GLENDALE–Hamazkayin’s highly anticipated Mosaic II Concert took place on January 26, 2008 at the Alex Theatre in Glendale, with tickets selling until minutes before the show. Mosaic II was definitely a “celebration of sound.” All in attendance were treated to five mini concerts of extremely talented musicians of varying styles of music.
Hamazkayin Mosaic Concert Committee had been planning this event since June 2007. Aligned with Hamazkayin’s mission to educate and instill cultural appreciation, the goal of the concert was to introduce and promote the musical talents of young Armenia’s. The organizers felt that the concert would foster appreciation for the progression and evolution of Armenian music in current times. The concert would bring to light how Armenian musicians incorporate and blend Armenian music with that of other cultures and modern influences. A long and arduous selection process determined the five finalists to partake in this year’s concert. The committee considered bringing experimental bands from other countries such as Argentina and France. However due to budgetary constraints, the decision was made to once again extend the opportunity to local and national musicians. The committee wanted to cover a broad range of musical styles to meet the diverse palates of the all-ages audience that would attend the concert. Highly acclaimed and outstanding performers from Mosaic I, Zulal and Visa were selected for an encore participation. In addition, the following new performers were chosen: Cantus Capella, Areni & Ochion, and Sonya Varoujian.
The concert was hosted by actress/comedienne, Lory Tatoulian and stand-up comedian, Ara Basil. The two entertained the audience between acts with comedic relief. Lory Tatoulian’s famous Dandeegeen character was of course a favorite for many.
Cantus Capella opened the show with songs influenced by classic and progressive rock to punk and indie. With the harmonious guitar work of Albert Babanian, the unique vocal register of Armen Nadjarian and solid, eclectic beats, Cantus Capella projected a fusion of moving melodies and pulsing rhythms.
Visa’s eight piece ensemble captivated the audience with its powerful instrumentation and the riveting voice of the lead singer, K’noup. The fusion of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean beats with the soulful drifts of the duduk revealed the old soul that the band carries forward. The duduk was played by the world famous Djivan Gasparyan’s gran’son, Jivan Gasparyan Jr. who improvised and skillfully adapted the duduk with Visa’s sonorities.
The incredibly talented a capella trio, Zulal, mesmerized the crowd with the purity of their voices. At the beginning of each song, the lovely ladies gave a vivid description of the origin and meaning of the song. The folk songs came to life on stage and the audience was transported to ancient Armenian villages. Zulal, once again, captured the hearts and soul of traditional Armenian folk music.
With Areni Agbabian on piano and vocals and Ochion on saxophone, the duo performed improvised pieces of free jazz. Areni and Ochion combined contemporary classical music with Armenian traditions to deliver an intriguing performance.
Sonya Varoujian performed several delightful ballads in Armenian which were inspired by her trip to Armenia. With a guitar in hand, she enchanted her audience with songs celebrating, life, love, and the motherland. Sonya was accompanied by an extraordinary group of hand picked musicians: Mher Vahakn on percussion, John Bilezikjian on oud, Greg Hosharian on keyboard and Artyom Manoukian on cello. Sonya closed the show with her up tempo song %u218Dzor’ which was received with cheers and applause.
Mosaic II Concert celebrated the diversity of sound, the evolution of melodies, and the musical interests of young Armenia’s in far away lands. The audience also celebrated the complex talents, refreshing creativity and musical accomplishmen’s of the current generation of Armenian musicians. Inspired by the success of the two concerts, the Hamazkayin Mosaic Committee will begin exploring an entirely new lineup of artists from around the world for Mosaic III, planned for early 2009.