YEREVAN—In Armenia’s capital city, ten musicians are gearing up to travel over 3,000 miles to Scotland, to perform together for the first time at the biggest cultural event on the planet, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Their event, A Long Way From Armenia, was a late addition to the Fringe line-up, with registration only finalized in mid-June.
“We want to be the first delegation of Armenian musicians to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the world’s largest arts festival,” said Raffi Joe, one of the four acts in the line-up.
The group, comprised of four separate and very diverse musical acts, ranging from hard rock to folk, aim to finance their journey to Scotland using the popular crowd-funding website Indiegogo. Currently, their campaign has only seven days left to reach their target of 7,706 British pounds (11,831 dollars).
The line-up of the all-Armenian event will be The Bambir, Raffi Joe, Hrach Mackoushian and Carahunge.
“What’s quite special about these bands and these people is that they were the ones willing to take the risk,” said Hrach Mackoushian, one of the artists to perform, “and what unites all of them is their passion and motivation.”
The youngest members of the group, both in the folk band Carahunge, are Harut Panosyan and Anna Harutyunyan. They are 19 and 24 years old respectively, don’t speak English and have never left Armenia before.
“It’s a leap of faith,” says Hrach Mackoushian, “Those musicians are really devoted … People have faith in their music and that’s what’s going to take them to Scotland.”
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world. Since its inception in 1947, the festival has taken place every August for three weeks in Scotland’s capital city. It is an “open access” festival, meaning anyone with a show can take part. Every year, thousands of performers take to a multitude of stages all over Edinburgh to present shows for every taste. From big names in the world of entertainment to unknown artists looking to build their careers, the festival caters for everyone and includes a diverse range of music and theater. The 2012 Festival Fringe spanned 25 days, totaling over 2,695 shows from 47 countries in 279 venues. An estimated 1,857,202 tickets were sold.
The Bambir is a music collective spanning four decades. With more than fifty musicians having passed through its ranks, the band is now in its second generation, with sons of the original members forming the current line-up. The Bambir returned to Armenia in November 2012, after 11 months touring Ireland, including playing at some of the bigger festivals like Electric Picnic to wild acclaim. They currently reside in Yerevan, working on their new album ArmBeton and Index, a new EP, due out this August.
Raffi Joe was born and grew up in the Armenian Diaspora community of Baltimore, Maryland. Since re-locating to Yerevan in late August 2012, Raffi has involved himself in a range of projects, using CD sales to support a women’s shelter and an environmental campaign. He also toured the often neglected regions of Armenia, visiting 12 different villages and towns, performing in different schools and community centers. Raffi is currently working on his second album.
Hrach Mackoushian grew up in the Armenian Diaspora community of currently war-torn Aleppo, Syria. Hrach moved to Yerevan four years ago, where he currently lives and works as a musician, playing with a variety of bands and working on his own songs, combining influences from jazz, blues and rock with elements of traditional Middle-Eastern and Armenian music.
Carahunge are a four-piece folk project from Yerevan, who take their name from the “Armenian Stonehenge” near the city of Sisian in the Syunik province of Armenia. Carahunge play traditional Armenian folk music.
You can support the project and learn more about the musicians at the project’s website, www.alongwayfromarmenia.com.