WOMEX Release–The WOMEX (World Music Expo)–the annual world-wide rendezvous of World Music professionals–will take place October 24-27 in Essen–a town in the Ruhr region of Germany. Festival organizers–tour agencies–journalists and specialized record labels will be meeting–exchanging ideas and looking to clinch deals.
Needless to say–the artists are at the very heart of the event. A dozen or so showcases will be presented each day–totaling forty odd acts from around the globe for the festival-goers to discover or re-discover.
One of the WOMEX’s customs is to reward an artist who has contributed to popular music. The 2002 Award will be given to the Armenian duduk player Djivan Gasparyan during the closing ceremony.
AWARD 2002: JIVAN GASPARYAN (ARMENIA)
Beautiful Melancholy by Jaana-Maria Jukkara
Located at a geopolitical crossroads between Europe and the Middle East–Armenia has frequently found itself the scene and subject of fierce disputes–often leaving the inhabitants only an unfaltering faith as their sole protection against conquerors from the East and West alike. While this can account for all the various influences in Armenian music–with Turkish–Kurdish–Persian–and Gypsy straits freely intermingling–there is one instrument as unique to the country as is its sound: the duduk–a double reed flute. It is said that the warm–slightly melancholic timbre perfectly reflects the soul of Armenia–torn between sorrow and hope.
The most renowned duduk master now is Jivan Gasparyan–born 74 years ago near Yerevan. As a boy–he became attracted to this instrument by listening to musicians accompanying silent films in the pre-talkies era. He was fascinated by the musicians’ infallible ability to express a range of moods from romance to the extreme upbeat. In this way–his life as a musician started – and his musical life has carried on uninterruptedly ever since–leading to collaborations with such prominent figures on the international music scene as the Kronos Quartet–Brian Eno–Peter Gabriel and a number of film soundtrack composers. Gasparyan–both as an artist and a living legend–reflects the society he lives in and has fulfilled his responsibility to his people by preserving the Armenian musical heritage and–in decades of teaching–passing it on to the young. In his performances–recordings and collaborations cutting across all musical styles–the spirit of his duduk speaks to us all–proving that the Caucasus has more to offer than just news of ferment–turmoil and catastrophes.