LOS ANGELES–Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society is hosting its fourth Mosaic concert taking place on Saturday, February 5 at the beautiful San Gabriel Mission Playhouse.
Hamazkayin’s Mosaic concert celebrates the diverse sounds of Armenian culture and its progression today by introducing and promoting the broad range of musical talents of young Armenians. The evening will prove to be a mosaic of musical genre and style, in both Armenian and English. Within the framework of a single concert, the audience will hear voices echoing from the distant past through the postmodern future.
Concert-goers can be expected to be taken on a journey with global rockers, Viza. Armenian Space Station will give the audience an epic performance of compositions incorporating Aram Khatchadourian’s stylings adapted by Greg Hosharian on keyboard with the metal drum beats of Barrett Yeretsian. Echocell will fuse the organic with the electronic to produce a riveting Armenian soul experience. A Splinter will guide guests on a journey through the humorous stories of our Armenian realities, while Armenian Public Radio will connect the audience to their roots through an acoustic revival of Armenian folk melodies performed by Saro Koujakian, Ryan Demirjian and Mher Ajamian.
The evening’s master of ceremonies, Lory Tatoulian, will present the bands through a narrative of comedic introductions. Meanwhile, in the orchestra and in the courtyard, DJ Bei Ru will be spinning his tunes of funk and soul during intermission. Guests will also have access to cocktails and Middle Eastern eats provided by the Hungry Nomad gourmet food truck, a contemporary spin off of the family-owned and operated Sasoun Bakery.
The historic San Gabriel Mission Playhouse was built in 1927, the magnificent and opulent theater has genteel side boxes and chandeliers that replicate the lanterns used on Spanish galleons which sailed around the tip of South America en route to California in the 1800s. This impressive space promises to complement the musically rich program with a truly majestic ambiance.
For tickets to the show please visit www.itsmyseat.com or contact 818.935.3555. The San Gabriel Mission Playhouse is located at 320 S. Mission Dr., San Gabriel, CA 91776. Starting at 7 p.m., the night will be headed off with a cocktail hour full of novelty.
Proceeds from the event will benefit a scholarship program for students pursuing music and art education.
The annual “Mosaic” concert is part of Hamazkayin’s goal to develop programs that will pique the interest of young Armenians and encourage their participation, while instilling in them a cultural identity.
Since 1928, Hamazkayin has made significant strides in promoting educational and cultural advancement within the Armenian community. Hamazkayin believes that the Armenian culture’s openness to evolving world dynamics and its ability to embrace change while holding onto its roots has allowed it to adapt and survive.
We interviewed Lory Tatoulian, Bei Ru, and the Hungry Nomad to give our readers a glimpse at the three new additions to the Mosaic lineup. Last year we spoke to Mosaic IV organizers Tamar Abkarian and Lori Tatoulian (no relation), and performers VIZA, Echocell and A Spliner, Armenian Public Radio, Armenian Space Station. The interviews, presented in two parts, are available here and here.
An interview with Lory Tatoulian: actress and playwright
Asbarez: Tell us about your creative process. What kind of environment inspires you?
Lory Tatoulian: Real life inspires me, Ralphs Supermarket inspires me, Armenian banquets inspire me, a good book inspires me , lovers inspire me, the gas station inspires me, family stories inspire me, Los Angeles inspires me, culture inspires me, the park across the street inspires me. People’s contradictions and motives inspire me, Politicians inspire me, children inspire me, Science inspires me, my dad trying to figure out how to use his blue tooth he just purchased inspires me. Oh, yes and GOOD MUSIC inspires me! I like to exaggerate reality and find the funny or magic in the placid everyday minutia of our lives.
Asbarez: When did you realize that acting was going to be a career for you? Give us insight on how you made it happen?
L. T.: I realized acting was the career for me after I played Mrs. Santa Clause in the 3rd grade at Lincoln Elementary School and I got in trouble for upstaging Santa Clause. But on a serious level, when I was in college, I was a Theater Major. It was then that I put on my first one-woman show. The feeling of fulfillment to be able to tell stories, create a whole world on stage and to be able to share that with an audience was very powerful. That is when i realized that this is what I want to do with my life. I don’t know if it’s a conscious choice, it’s just something that has always been inside of me.
Asbarez: Who has inspired you? Who inspires you now?
L. T.: My dramatic family has inspired me. Acting wise, I have always looked up to Eric Boghosian, Gilda Radner, Woody Allen and Robin Williams.
Asbarez: Tell us about your first Mosaic performance with your unique rendition of characters. How did you feel?
L. T.: My first performance at Mosaic was with Voki kalfayan and we both had a blast. I would have to say it was that performance where Dandeegeen fully came into bloom, which is her obnoxious self. It was an audience interactive show and I love improvising and coming up with material on the spot. Armenian audiences are very inspiring, there is no fourth wall, that concept does not exist.
Asbarez: You’ve written and performed in many shows, mostly comedy…why comedy?
L. T.: Comedy is something I hold dear to my heart. I think it may stem from a fundamental way of looking at all that is around us – we live in an absurd world and it is hard for me not to make fun of it all, maybe it is a way to cope, maybe it’s a way to celebrate, whatever it is, a sense of humor is distinctly human and I think we need comedy to deal with our half developed half conscious brains.
Asbarez: It seems that you’ve been the constant link at the past three Mosaic concerts, and we will have the pleasure to have you entertain us again at the upcoming Mosaic IV. How does Lory Tatoulian fit into the Mosaic objective?
L. T.: I love music. I am always blasting my stereo in my house or in my car or on my iPod, so it’s a pleasure for me to host an event where good music is featured…and these bands ROCK. With all the music and lyrics and virtuosity flying around, I guess my little vignettes provide a comic relief for the audience.
Asbarez: What is next for Lory Tatoulian?
L. T.: Next up is the third installment for the Big Bad Armo Shows. The upcoming show is titled Big Bad Armo Show: World Domination.
Asbarez: What should the Mosaic IV Concert goers look forward to from the host, Lory Tatoulian? Will it be more of what they’ve experienced from the previous years or something unexpected?
L. T.: Dandeegeen is taking a break, she is going through menopause and needs to tend to her hot flashes. So this year, Lory Tatoulian will be playing a slew of characters that will weave themselves in and out of the show. All I have to say is tap dancing and the art of shadow puppetry…just kidding.
An interview with Bei Ru: up-and-coming producer and DJ
Asbarez: How did the name Beir Ru come about?
Bei Ru: I got the nickname “Beirut” when I was in High School, since my parents are from Lebanon, and Baruir – my real name – isn’t the easiest name to pronounce. After a while, friends just started calling me “Bei.” “Ru” was another nickname some people would use – I guess because it was an easier alternative to “Baruir.” I just put the two names together.
Asbarez: How would you describe the sound of DJ Bei Ru’s unique music fusion?
Bei Ru: My taste in music is really eclectic and I think the influences tend to creep into my own work. I try to blend it all with elements of Armenian music – melodies, style, instrumentation, etc. – to try and create something fresh and completely different, but with a vintage, familiar vibe to it.
Asbarez: Tell us about your creative process. What kind of environment inspires you?
Bei Ru: I usually find myself working best at night, into the early morning. It’s something about the quiet calm during those hours that sparks the most ideas and creativity.
Asbarez: When did you realize that spinning/mixing music was going to be a career for you? Inspire the readers and give us insight on how you made it happen?
Bei Ru: I’ve been playing music since I was 6, and throughout my life it was always present in different stages. I started playing classical piano until I was 15, at which point I got my first set of turntables and started DJ’ing regularly. Around the same time, I started to record little demos on a keyboard and a dual cassette deck, and realized that I had a knack for it. Once I got some better production equipment, I started working with various local artists, producing and arranging songs for their own projects. I fell in love with the process of making music and was getting a lot of great responses and support from people, so it just kind of happened organically.
Asbarez: In your search of the ultimate vintage Armenian albums, which is “the one” for you?
Bei Ru: It’s really hard for me to narrow it down to one single album but if I absolutely had to, it would be a record I randomly came across from a band called Zartong.
Zartong was a 4-piece band comprised of Armenians living in France, who released their only album on a small independent label in 1978. I started asking around about them and no one seemed to have heard of them, which is surprising because their music is an incredible blend of Armenian folk melodies and progressive rock. It is totally unique and beautiful and definitely one of my favorites.
Asbarez: You’ve released a new album, “Little Armenia” – what should our readers who haven’t sampled it yet expect from the record?
Bei Ru: Little Armenia is a blend of vintage Armenian melodies and sounds from the 1960’s and 1970’s with Funk, Hip Hop, Soul and Rock. I edited and rearranged bits and pieces from traditional Armenian songs and played and recorded additional instruments over them, to recreate them in a way that gives them a whole new light.
Asbarez: Tell us about your first DJ performance spinning this unique rendition of Armenian music. How did you feel? How did they, the listeners, feel?
Bei Ru: I debuted my first set playing this music at the album release party I had the day the album came out. The place was packed with Armenians and non-Armenians alike, so I was a bit nervous about what the crowd’s reaction would be. After I finished playing, I was overwhelmed by the positive responses I got from people. It just goes to show that you don’t have to speak the language or be familiar with the melodies in order to appreciate it.
Asbarez: What is next for Bei Ru?
Bei Ru: I’m currently working on a not-yet-titled sequel to Little Armenia which is going to be even more experimental and adventurous, and will hopefully be completed by the end of this year. In addition, I’m planning on working on a project with a female vocalist, as well as collaborations with some live bands. I’ve also been working on scoring music for television and film, which is something I plan or pursuing even more so in the near future.
Asbarez: What should the Mosaic IV Concert goers look forward to from DJ Bei Ru?
Bei Ru: I’m going to be playing a special set for the Mosiac IV show, featuring songs from my Little Armenia album, unreleased songs and remixes, new material that I’ll be premiering for the first time as well as some other surprises that I’ll save for the show…
Hungry Nomad Creator Tina Yeretsian Discusses Gourmet Armenian food on the go
Asbarez: How did the name Hungry Nomad emerge?
Tina Yeretsian: Our truck is a symbolic representation of the Armenian people, who have become somewhat nomadic due to the unstable situation in our country. We were forced out of Armenia during the Genocide and had to disperse all around the world. My family went from Sasoun in historic Armenia, present-day Turkey, to Syria, Lebanon, and, for the time being, the United States. We are truly nomadic, traveling from one country to the other and picking up hints from the different cuisines along our way. Our food is a reflection of our travels and exposures to different cultures.
Asbarez: When did you realize that spinning off a mobile restaurant/bakery from a family owned and operated bakery was going to be a business for you? Inspire the readers and give us insight on how you made it happen?
T.Y.: My fiancé, Mike Mikhail, was inspired by the Buttermilk Truck and suggested that we serve our own unique and authentic foods. My father, David Yeretsian, opened three Sasoun bakeries in Syria and Lebanon, and when he moved his family to the States in 1985, he left the bakeries in his siblings’ hands. He now owns six locations of Sasoun Bakery in Los Angeles. Our main goal with this project was to introduce our products to the American market. We are very well known among Armenians, but we have not been able to penetrate the mainstream clientele.
The biggest hurdle in realizing this project was getting my dad to become comfortable with an idea so foreign. In the end, given that I was unsure about the outcome of the project, I decided that I would not use the Sasoun name. Also, I decided not to sell Sasoun products just as is. I have basically Tina-fied Sasoun. I’m serving everything just as I would eat my Sasoun, with my personally added touches. Also, I have also added certain items to my menu that we specialize in, but we do not offer at the bakery.
Asbarez: In your exploration for recipes of the ultimate eclectic Armenian food, which is the most delectable for you?
T.Y.: The signature item is undoubtedly the Torpedo, a multi-cheese flatbread accented with parsley, onion and red pepper. The spicy, elongated cheese beoreg was my father’s creation. It started in Lebanon and was referred to as “saroukh,” which means missile or torpedo due to its shape and spicy kick.
Asbarez: You’ve unleashed from Little Armenia’s own Sasoun bakery an original cuisine that will travel for our palate’s delight– what should our readers who haven’t sampled it yet expect from the new twist on the food we all so love and have grown up with?
T.Y.: The core menu includes the ground beef flatbread known as a lahmajune, which forms the base of a Minced Beef Wrap; a Za’atar Feta Wrap (Maneishe), with a base of wild Mediterranean thyme, sesame seeds and vegetable oil; and a Spinach Trilogy (Beorek) drizzled with secret yogurt sauce. Sides include Armenian potato salad, hummus, French fries and crispy Za’atar chips with yogurt sauce.
Asbarez: How does Hungry Nomad fit into Mosaic? Do you see yourself as an up-and-coming performer that renditions traditional Armenian food (as opposed to music) into edgy and innovative cuisine?
T.Y.: I think the Hungry Nomad fits Mosaic perfectly, in the culinary sense. The last three Mosaic concerts have done an excellent job of introducing contemporary Armenian music with international and experimental elements or, conversely, music in English, with Armenian elements. In the same way, the Hungry Nomad has modernized the traditional Armenian bakery, by making it mobile and highlighting its menu as a mixture of various international cuisines.
Asbarez: What should Mosaic IV Concert goers look forward to from the ingenious and scrumptious Hungry Nomad gourmet flavors?
T.Y.: New & adventurous flavors for your taste buds!