LOS ANGELES–Asbarez caught up with Viza band member and Oud player Antranig Kzirian to talk about the second annual Silence the Lies! Rock the Truth! concert set for April 24. Organized by a coalition of community organizations and artists, this social justice concert will be dedicated to raising awareness of the Armenian Genocide through music and activism. The groundbreaking concert will be held at the El Rey Theatre in the heart of Los Angeles on Saturday, April 24, 2010. We present the interview below:
Asbarez: Can you tell us about this upcoming concert?
Antranig Kzirian: The event is named “Silence the Lies! Rock the Truth” and it is the second annual concert put on together by community organizations like the ANC, AYF, UCLA AGA Sorority and AGBU along with musicians that are of course artists – but activists as well.
We wanted to help organize this event because we feel that this type of social justice concert helps to raise even more awareness of human rights issues that are important to Armenians, and also people from all backgrounds.
A: Where and When is the show?
A.K.: It’s on Saturday, April 24 at the El Rey in Los Angeles at 8 pm. The website www.silencethelies.com has lots of good information on the history of the Armenian Genocide, how individuals can contribute to the cause in general and other details.
A: What’s your take on how a concert can complement more conventional means of advocacy and education?
A.K.: For me this is very relevant as I am a human rights activist and also a passionate musician. The confluence of the two is apparent in the message of this show and is the objective of the concert – to bring the two together in a show of unity and understanding on something that has deeply affected all of us.
Nonetheless, reaching out to the younger generation can be a challenging endeavor at times – there are so many issues that are important to us both in our community and just simply as human beings. Because of that, it is essential that our youth – basically the leaders of tomorrow – develop an understanding for the weight of issues like the Armenian Genocide and similar political and human rights issues.
If anything – all of this is unfortunately quite relevant to our everyday lives because as Armenians our ancestors were either victims or survivors – and more currently because of genocide that is happening today in Darfur that is not acted upon by governments in any meaningful way. That’s why it’s so important to do something and take part in whatever way each of us can.
A: Can you elaborate on the significance of how organizations are working hand in hand with your band and the other artists performing?
A.K.: This reminds me of the feature the Los Angeles Times did last year on the first “Silence the Lies, Rock the Truth!” concert covering all the tremendous work of our community organizations and the uniqueness of the concert in helping generate awareness – especially with youth.
Serving as ANC-WR Executive Director a few years ago, I was able to work with various other organizations and benevolent projects which was a very rewarding experience. I also perform on the oud and am pretty active in music and have been for most of my life. I think having experienced both the government/advocacy side and supplementing that with my creative pursuits – I have a little bit of a different perspective on how to approach this issue.
To me, because politics and education sometimes tend to be grounded in statements and policies – which of course have their place in how things work in the real world – we wanted to also offer our action in a practical way.
The only way to advance any cause is through building will and support. That is how you become relevant and the key to making a difference. Impact is a critical concept. For generations our ancestors remained quiet regarding the genocide – a mix of reluctance, anxiety, fear and psychological taboo. Over time we have been deconstructing that taboo one piece at a time and we are become empowered – I believe that our youth must take ownership of important human rights issues like the Armenian Genocide. Our people lived through it – it is our responsibility to educate the world and stand up for what’s right.
A: I understand the concert is helping two orphanages – could you talk about these projects?
A.K.: The ARS has a very important initiative called “The Armenia-Artsakh Orphan Project” – also “The Bird’s Nest Orphanage” which is in Lebanon – both are receiving financial assistance from the proceeds of the show. These orphanages provide vital assistance and services to Armenian orphans that have nowhere to go and are living in pretty difficult times in their lives. Interestingly enough the second orphanage was founded by the great grandmother of one of our ANC-WR interns from a couple of years ago – Shant Karnikian. That shows the interconnectivity of the Armenian community. We really look forward to raising much needed funds for these important projects. It is a tradition that should be maintained by all artists in the future.
A: How much are tickets and where can our readers buy them?
A.K.: Tickets are $20 and can be purchased from the Silence the Lies website.