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The Armenian Minister of Foreign Affairs was present at the concert dedicated to the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide in Jerusalem

March 6, 2015 Armenia, Business, Music No Comments
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10:39, March 6, 2015

On March 5 Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian was present at the special concert of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra dedicated to the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide bearing the title “With You, Armenia.”

During the concert of the fully-packed prestigious hall the compositions of Komitas, Aram Khachatryan, Beethoven and Stepan Rostomyan were performed.

Having a speech before the concert Edward Nalbandian said:

“I have been in the Holy city of Jerusalem several times, always feeling very special about it. Today’s symbolism is particular. The Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra is dedicating its concert to the Centenary of the Armenian Genocide, and I would like to thank all those who worked hard for creating this opportunity.

New Artists for Peace Music Video with Ken Davitian Kicks Off Stop Racism Campaign

February 23, 2015 Armenia, Business, Europe, Music, Video No Comments
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11:42, February 23, 2015

A new music video featuring an impressive line-up of celebrities hits YouTube this week, hoping to go viral in the hope of stopping racism around the world. Created by FMS Media, in association with Artists for Peace, The Final Game is the first in a series of Stop Racism campaign music videos, aiming to change global perceptions.  

The music video features vocals from Devon T, Rina Cervantes and Kantana, the latter who has worked with dancehall sensation Beenie Man. Also appearing in the tongue-in-cheek video is US actor Ken Davitian who is well known for big screen roles in Borat, The Artist and Meet The Spartans . Artists from a range of different backgrounds and nationalities have come together in the making of The Final Game to highlight intolerance and racism around the world.

Komitas Conservatory Instructor: Young Composers are Basically Forced to Leave Armenia

February 14, 2015 Armenia, Arts, Film, Music No Comments
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14:21, February 14, 2015

Hetq talks to Artur Avanesov, a pianist and instructor at Yerevan’s Komitas State Conservatory, regarding teh challenges faced by young composers in Armenia.

We have young composers who mainly perform overseas rather than here in Armenia. Is this a result of the general tendency to leave the country or are there other reasons?

I fully agree that we have very good composers. Of course, most live abroad. The question is whether or not we call them ‘our’ composers?

Yes, the link is maintained and their music is periodically performed here. Let’s specify what expectations we have from such composers. For me, it’s enough that they are professionals and that their music is interesting.

Contemporary Genocide Play to Debut in New York City in April

February 10, 2015 Armenia, Diaspora, Karabakh, Music No Comments
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15:28, February 10, 2015

While the Armenian Genocide occurred a century ago, descendants of victims are still grappling with the consequences of this historic calamity and what the hundred year mark means to them and to the future of the Armenian nation and diaspora.

These issues are explored in the play, “From Sacred Wrath,” which will be performed on April 18, 2015 and April 19, 2015 at The Davenport Theatre in New York City.

The story centers around the Armenian-American Khatchadourian family, who shares mixed emotions as the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide approaches: a grandmother who is unable to share her story of survival, as she is still traumatized by her escape; a young woman who forges ties to a Turkish journalist much to the chagrin of her patriotic father, and a brother, who vows to fight for the future of his homeland by enlisting in the Nagorno Karabakh Defense Army.

Challenges for Art in Armenia: View from Three Contemporary Artists and an Art Curator

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11:16, January 27, 2015

By Karine Aghajanyan 

“Art can have both aesthetical meaning as well as the potential for social impact”, according to Misha Badasyan, Manan Torosyan and Petra Hultman; the three artists I talked to regarding the contemporary art scene in Armenia.

I recently sat down with them to discuss their thoughts on the challenges they face regarding art in the Armenian context as well as the impact they believe art can have on Armenian society.

They all noted the lack of gallery space, divisions among different artists, as well as a shortage of finances and attention from the government as complex challenges for art in Armenia. This lack of space and resources to grow and become more visible as an artist contributes to a situation where artists often feel stuck, both creatively as well as physically.

13 Fun and Cool Things to Do In Yerevan

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13:01, January 12, 2015

By Karine Aghajanyan

Watch Yerevan from atop the Cascade Complex

Yerevan is a beautiful city with nice buildings, but sometimes stress and annoying routine can make you ignorant of its vibrations. Thus, you need to look at its panorama so you can feel the spirit of the city. Enjoy the peace and quiet. Small cities can be maddening and stressful at times, but the peacefulness they harbor on a frosty winter night is pretty fantastic.

Explore Yerevan’s architecture: walk around places where you have never been

You can find amazing old and new buildings that you have never seen before. Yerevan is a small city, but there are lots of buildings that are removed from the immediate reach of the streets or bus stops. This is especially true now, when there are construction projects going on here and there and you can’t recognize the neighborhood you knew before.

A Voice from the Homeland: A Message of Despair and Hope

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17:25, December 13, 2014

By Andranik Michaelian

While on my way to buy some milk and madzoon from Aparan, I greeted a neighbor with the local “vonc es?”  (how are you) to which he replied, holding a few pills in his hand, “You see these? I wish these pills were poison, then I could be done with all this. This is no country…”

He said this with all seriousness. A day earlier, when asked how I was doing, I answered that I was in the same condition as the country, to which my friend said, “I’m in worse shape than the country.” Although said with a smile, he was just as serious as the neighbor with the pills. Another neighbor, when I asked how he was doing,  replied saying, “I’m waiting…” When I asked what he was waiting for, he said, “for things to get worse, which they will…”

Pope Francis to meet autistic kids to end stigma

November 18, 2014 Diaspora, Music No Comments
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Pope Francis will meet with autistic children and their families in a bid to help raise awareness and end the stigma and isolation of people living with autism spectrum disorders, the AP reported.The Saturday audience will cap an international conference on autism being hosted this week by the Vatican’s health care office. Organizers said Tuesday it was the biggest medical conference of its kind on autism, gathering more than 650 experts from 57 countries.
The Rev. P. Augusto Chendi of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers told reporters the aim of the conference and the papal audience is to “help break the isolation, and in many cases the stigma, that surrounds people affected by autistic spectrum disorders.”
While autism is increasingly diagnosed in places like the United States, where about 1 in 68 children are said to be on the spectrum, it is still largely unknown and undiagnosed elsewhere, including in the Vatican’s own backyard of Italy, said Dr. Stefano Vicari, head of pediatric neuropsychiatry at the Vatican-owned Bambin Gesu hospital in Rome.
Francis, who has shown great ease around children with special needs, will deliver a speech to the hundreds gathered in the Vatican audience hall. The session will be punctuated by music and movement for the children.

Strictly Come Dancing: BBC apologizes for judge swearing

November 16, 2014 Diaspora, Music No Comments
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The BBC apologized after Strictly Come Dancing judge Len Goodman swore during Saturday’s live show.The head judge appeared to mutter a curse word while praising the performance of Blue star Simon Webbe and his partner Kristina Rihanoff.Strictly presenter Zoe Ball said: “Len got a little bit carried away with the excitement of the dance and I’m very sorry for the bad language.”The BBC One show was broadcast live from Blackpool’s Tower Ballroom.Webbe scored 38 points out of a possible 40 for an Argentine Tango and received plaudits from all four judges.His score was later matched by pop star Pixie Lott who took on the Paso Doble with her dance partner Trent Whiddon.There are nine celebrities left on the show, including television presenter Caroline Flack, reality TV star Mark Wright and Judy Murray, mother of British tennis star Andy Murray.Murray’s performances have been popular with audiences but not the judges.On Saturday’s show, Murray and her partner Anton du Beke danced the Viennese Waltz to Let’s Go Fly a Kite from the musical Mary Poppins. They scored the lowest points of the night.Judge Craig Revel Horwood told her she had “appalling” posture and there was only “a good 15 seconds” in the whole routine.Another contestant will be eliminated following a dance-off on Sunday night’s show.

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Featured Books

Book Reviews

John Balian’s “Novel Approach” Brings the Armenian Saga to the Masses – An interview with John Balian by Lucine Kasbarian

Gray Wolves and White Doves cover art

Armenians often wish for a tale about the Armenian Genocide and its aftermath that would make a blockbuster film and draw attention to their cause. John Balian’s new book, Gray Wolves and White Doves (CreateSpace/Amazon.com), may be that tale.

 Largely autobiographical, this atmospheric novel is presented through the eyes of an innocent young boy trying to make sense of the world as he grows up amid repressive conditions in Western Armenia/Eastern Turkey during the 1960s and 70s.

 This fast-paced, multi-layered narrative takes readers from Hanna Ibelin’s (a.k.a. Jonah Ibelinian’s) close-knit family life in the perilous Asia Minor region of Palu to terror and tragedy while en route to Syria’s Kamishli, to a bleak existence on the mean streets of Istanbul.

New Children’s Picture Book From Armenian Folklore

Teaneck, N.J. and Belmont, Mass. –  An Armenian folktale retold by Armenian-American writer Lucine Kasbarian and illustrated by Moscow-based artist Maria Zaikina debuts with Marshall Cavendish Children’s Publishers in April 2011.

The Greedy Sparrow: An Armenian Tale is from the ancient Armenian oral tradition and culture, which was nearly obliterated during the Turkish genocide of the Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks in 1915. The author learned the tale from her father, editor and columnist C.K. Garabed, who would recite it to her at bedtime. He had learned it from his own grandmother, a celebrated storyteller from the Old Country.  The tale was first put to paper by Armenian poet Hovhannes Toumanian at the turn of the 20th century.

“We Need To Lift The Armenian Taboo”

Turkish writer and publicist Ahmet Insel labels the initiative of the Turkish Nationalist Movement Party to pray namaz on the ruins of Ani as provocation.

In an interview with “A1+,” the publicist said the initiative was supported only by a small percentage of Turks.

“They offered namaz in Ani in protest against Christian rites carried out in Trabzon and Akhtamar. The leader of the Nationalist Movement Party, Devlet Bahceli said if Christians are allowed to pray inside museums, similarly he can pray namaz in Armenian churches,” said Ahmet Insel.

The Turkish writer arrived in Armenia to participate in a book festival. Presentation of Armenian version of Dialogue sur le tabou arménien (Dialogue about the Armenian Tabou) co-authored by Ahmet Insel and Michel Marian was held during the festival.

US Media Discusses The Armenian Genocide

BURBANK, CALIFORNIA –  KFI 640, a popular news/talk radio station hosted by Bill Handel on September 23 aired a live interview with Michael Bobelian, the writer of a new book titled  Children of Armenia: A Forgotten Genocide and the Century-long Struggle for Justice

The book chronicles the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide of 1915, and recounts a people’s struggle for justice in the face of a century of silence and denial.

During the interview, which was aired during the prime morning time slot, Bill Handel addressed both the efforts within the United States to ensure that the US government appropriately acknowledges the Armenian Genocide and Turkey’s ongoing denial.

Handel, a well known and nationally syndicated radio talk show host, has discussed the Armenian Genocide during past shows.

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Capitalism Run Amok Is Just Plain Capitalism

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16:37, January 17, 2015

By Markar Melkonian

The source of Armenia’s misery and humiliation, we often hear, is not capitalism per se, but rather “gangster capitalism,” “a broken system,” “capitalism run amok.”

The goal for the future, then, is to “fix the system,” to reform capitalism, to make it more like regular, pure, genuine Free Enterprise, the kind of capitalism that works. But what if Armenia’s actually existing capitalism already is genuine capitalism?

An economist once observed that the only existential meaning of “enterprise” in the term free enterprise is “whatever capitalists happen to be doing at the time”–and “free” is the accompanying demand that they be allowed to do it.

Ukraine: Cops Go After Casinos, Suggest Yanukovych Connection

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21:45, December 15, 2014

Ukraine’s ministry of internal affairs has launched a campaign against illegal casinos amid fears that a large network of underground gambling dens could be providing an income source for the son of the country’s disgraced former president Viktor Yanukovych.

The new crackdown on unlawful casinos – an ongoing scourge for law enforcement agencies in Ukraine since regulation was made stiffer with a 2009 law – was launched on Dec. 8 after an announcement on Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov’s official Facebook page.

Avakov, who keeps a lively and occasionally angry Facebook commentary on current affairs, pledged to put a complete stop to the establishments within ten days; first in the capital of Kyiv, then the rest of the nation.

Yerevan Calling: A Weekly Roundup of Random Musings from Armenia

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13:05, October 3, 2014

Here it is dear readers, the debut of a weekly column I hope to maintain on a regular basis.

It’s sort of a catch-all of news snippets, irreverent commentary, and personal observations on what’s happened during the week here in Yerevan, and throughout Armenia.. Hopefully, you’ll find it interesting, if not slightly diverting.

Your comments and suggestions are welcomed.

Regards – Hrant

Oct. 2 – Protests Throughout Armenia: A Game of Numbers & Solidarity

Three separate protest rallies took place in Armenia today.

As Hetq reported earlier, business owners in the town of Sevan kept their stores and factories shut to protest changes to the so-called volume (sales) tax. Local residents flocked to the bread factory to wait on line for a loaf or two.

China: President Takes Action Against High Ranking Corrupt Officials

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21:31, July 30, 2014

Zhou Yongkang, one of China’s most powerful former leaders, is under investigation in the highest-level corruption inquiry since the Communist Party came into power in 1949.

Under current president Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign, the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection is investigating Zhou for “serious disciplinary violations,” as the officialXinhua news agency reports. Media has not yet, however, specified the allegations against him.

The probe is an attempt to show the length to which Xi and the party will go in order to combat abuse of power reportsThe Wall Street Journal. 

A commentary published in the officialPeoples Daily makes the point that regardless of  an official’s rank or supporters, punishment will result for violating laws or the party’s discipline. 

Armenian Gangs: Caught between an Archetype and a Cliché

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19:15, July 12, 2014

By Marineh Khachadour

“The whole thing started with a scene straight out of a mobster movie. It was around 6 p.m. when more than a dozen men from two organized crime groups opened fire on each other in a North Hollywood parking lot. Witnesses say nearly everyone was armed, and the shootout quickly went mobile. The men took off in cars, exchanging fire as they weaved through the Whitsett Avenue traffic.”

Stories such as this are not unique to Armenians in the American press, but this investigative report recently published in the LA Weekly is about Armenian Power, the Los Angeles based Armenian gang that operates in the heavily Armenian populated communities of Glendale, Burbank, and North Hollywood.