Armenians From Around the World to Celebrate a Vibrant, Living Armenian Culture
LOS ANGELES, Calif. –What will happen on Sunday, December 13, 2009, at the new Nokia Theater in the heart of Los Angeles, has never happened before. Call it an awards show. Call it a concert. Call it what you will, but you must also call it an extravaganza. A blockbuster.
This unprecedented music awards show will stand as a testament that Armenian culture continues its prolific journey into the 4,110th year of its existence. The spectacle will be proof that the Armenian nation’s artists are following in the footsteps of its troubadours or gusans like Sayat Nova.
This night of a 101 Armenian stars will show that the musical tradition brought to life by Komitas continues to be relished and honored. This one evening at the Nokia will affirm that Armenians continue to enjoy, consume, and encourage their musicians, artists, and culture makers.
Never before in the history of the Armenian world have so many popular entertainers, personalities, musicians, and stars come together to celebrate Armenian culture. Never before have 620 professionals invested so many weeks to help produce the show. Never before have nearly 100 Armenian musicians from Armenia, North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, and Russia, have come together to perform, encourage, and celebrate the wide array and different genres of classical, contemporary, and popular Armenian music.
20th Century Music At-A-Glance
When Adiss Harmandian and Levon Katrjian were entertaining the Middle East and the Americas in the 70s and 80s, Raysa Mugerdichian and Roupen Matevosyan were touring the world as the Soviet Republic of Armenia’s Ambassadors of Song. These four were among the role models of the current generation of Armenian musicians who are creating Armenian music around the world in the 21st century. They were the ones who gave birth to the artists who will be honored and who will perform on Sunday night.
Adiss, Levon, Raysa, and Roupik were among the popular voices that sprang up after the greatest catastrophe to challenge the Armenian culture. As the sons and daughters of Armenian Genocide survivors, the contemporaries of those modern-day minstrels celebrated the untouched classical music of the Armenian people while infusing the modern sounds of the world to Armenian pop.
The post-independence Armenia in the late 20th century also saw a rise of a new generation of musicians. Groups including contestants of the popular Armenian Public TV show “Ayo” included the likes of Nune Yesayan, Aramo, Emma, and Arthur Ispirian. Under the direction of pop producer and composer Arthur Grigorian, Yesayan and her peers were able to bridge the trans-Atlantic gap in the Armenian music world and reach a new generation of Diaspora Armenians through their music videos that aired on Horizon TV, through their concerts and CD’s.
With the Information Age and the availability of the Internet, Armenian music experienced an even greater global presence with the sharing of music and music videos through Internet radio stations, CD and DVD stores on the web, and satellite and Internet television bridging the broadcasting worlds of Armenia and the Diaspora.
Post-Soviet Armenian media also witnesses even more genres of Armenian music including the embracing of rap by a new generation of musicians. Like their forebears had embraced jazz and electronica, Armenians around the world are enjoying their favorite sounds in a diverse world of music.
The culmination of Armenian music today includes not only the traditional Armenian sounds, religious music, children’s music, choir and acapella, but the creations of musicians of Armenian descent that are writing, composing, and creating a variety of Armenian-language or foreign-language lyrics and sounds that embrace the ancient and foreign, while staying up to par with their non-Armenian contemporaries.
These musicians often perform for Armenian audiences in the Homeland or the Diaspora. They include the likes of Armen Movsisyan, who has performed around the world with the great musicians of our time and has also shared his talents with Hollywood. Movsisyan is the music award show’s musical director and has been working with the three-dozen acts that are scheduled to perform at the Nokia on December 13.
Just who is scheduled to appear at the Nokia this Sunday?
The names range from the Armenian pop scene like Armenchik, who has a loyal following around the world. Names like Nune Yesayan and Shushan Petrosyan are household names in the Armenian world for nearly two decades. The others are newcomers whose voices are easily recognized and whose videos have been the most requested throughout 2009.
Add to these musicians the names of Emmi, Sofi Mkheyan, Karnig Sarkissian, Deleyaman, and Silva Hakobyan – the latter was a top award winner in a BBC music competition. Other include Armenia’s representatives at the Eurovision contests including top ten winners over the past three years – Andre, Sirusho, and Hayko.
If that’s not enough. Let’s drop some more names: Mihran, Apeh Jan, the Armenoids, VISA, Element Band, Hovhanness Shahbazyan, Arto Tunchboyadjian, Misho, and Reincarnation. And how about another special and original treat? A performance by Russian superstar Irina Allegrova, who is one of the top acts in Russia and Eastern Europe, their own Cher, and half-Armenian.
Add to this list one of the greatest singers, prolific poets and musicians of our time, legendary, award-winning, globally renowned star Charles Aznavour. One of the greatest performers of the modern Armenian world will appear with his daughter Seda at the Nokia. Health-permitting, he is also willing to perform.
For Generation X’ers and Generation Y, the MTV Generation and all others that have followed, one rock act resonates in their mind as the biggest. System of a Down or SOAD has sold more than 25 million albums, earned dozens of awards including a Grammy, and has played around the world. It’s lead singer, Serj Tankian, who has since released his debut solo album, will be among the who’s who at the Nokia. Serj and his father Khachadour will perform together from Khachadour’s debut album.
If those names weren’t enough, add to them international glam girl Kim Kardashian and American television icon Mike Connors (Mannix). However, as always, those who attend the M Club and Armenian Music Awards as audience members are the flashiest dressers in the building, often taking away the limelight from the musicians and artists on stage. So, what will you be wearing?
M Club Music Video Awards
And who is at the helm of this awards show? Two men are bringing this blockbuster together. December 13 will mark the coming together of the decade-old Armenian Music Awards and the five-year-old M Club Music Video Awards.
Arthur Kokozian is the producer, and he has joined forced with the M Club, a Horizon TV, weekly music video countdown program hosted by Tatevik Ekezian. M Club is produced by Sevak Petrosyan and the Meridian Studios in Burbank. Joining forces with Meridian, Kokozian’s Pipeline Films, and Horizon TV are H1 – the Republic of Armenia’s public television channel, Armenian-Russian Television Network (ARTN), and ARTN’s Republic of Armenia partner, Shant TV.
Only through the synergy of all these players can a spectacle blockbuster like the event at the Nokia on December 13 be possible.
Meridian Studios was founded ten years ago as a production company that produced local talk shows, entertainment programs, and music videos. After producing popular television programming and lots of high-end music videos, Sevak Petrosyan realized there needed to be a television program that played the top-quality music videos that his company and other filmmakers were producing in Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora.
That’s how the M Club was born; and since its inception, it has been the focal point of music fans who want to see the latest and hottest music videos on the air. Each week, M Club plays the most requested music videos and also introduces new music by featuring newly released videos and interviews with the artists.
“About four years ago, I realized that there were so many great videos on the show throughout the year, that we really needed a way to showcase and award the best videos of the year,” says Sevak Petrosyan. “We organized the first M Club Music Video Awards at Alex Theatre in Glendale, and we were surprised ourselves about how entertaining and fun the event was. Evern more were the artists we brought from Armenia to participate in the show. We knew right away this would become a tradition in our community.”
The second annual M Club Music Video Awards at the Kodak Theatre in 2006 offered even more surprises. The 20 most popular videos of the year were awarded, all based on viewer requests, and the show a live, interactive voting where those at the Kodak used their cell phones to vote on a few categories. The show was broadcast live in Armenia and featured hosts via a live feed from Yerevan. The sold-out event was broadcast live locally and on international Armenian satellite stations. Its success also indicated to the producers that the 3,500-seat Kodak was too small for an awards show like theirs, and plans were made to hold the next show at a larger venue.
The third annual M Club Music Video Awards Show and the 10th annual Armenian Music Awards Show at the Nokia this Sunday promises even more than audiences have ever seen in the Armenian entertainment world.
Armenian Music Awards
The Armenian Music Awards was created in 1998 as a way to promote and help Armenian musicians. The idea behind it was to acknowledge the achievements of Armenian artists and to showcase their work to mainstream America. The show has drawn international media attention and has been broadcast globally via satellite.
“Any Armenian artist can participate by entering an album released the previous year,” says the Armenian Music Award’s new producer Arthur Kokozian. “Even non-Armenians are allowed to enter if their work is considered Armenian or Armenian-themed. Judging the entries is a changing group of musicians, composers, artists, critics, and recording-industry executives.
Kokozian is taking the show’s rich history, improving it and hoping to reach bigger audiences by working in concert with Petrosyan and the M Club Music Video Awards.
Tickets for this year’s double-wow, star-studded night of music and glamor range from $50 to $200, and they are available through Ticketmaster or ARTNticket.com. Phone orders are also available by calling 800-533-3386.
In addition to the stars, majestic backdrops and sets, producers are promising unexpected special effects and surprise performances, bigger-than-lifesize video screens, a laser show, and the most entertaining Armenian music, awards show, and concert to date. More than 620 people have been working and will work on the production this week.
The M Club Music Video Awards and the Armenian Music Awards program is the most taunting, expensive event and largest entertainment undertaking in the history of the Armenian entertainment world until now.
All that’s left to say is that you’ll be audience to a show everyone will be talking about for weeks, months, and years to come.