BY SAREEN SHATIKIAN
Growing up within the AYF, I had always been exposed to our heghapokhagan music. The sweet melodies, mixed with passionate lyrics rang through my head on a daily basis, and the meaningful words always made me so proud of my cultural background. Armenian music in general is also very passionate, and makes one feel very connected to their culture, no matter where they are in the world, even in Artsakh.
On our closing day of camp, we had been invited to a small concert hall just down the street from our school, where a local folk band wanted to perform for us and the kids. All the musicians and singers sang with so much heart and soul, it was no different than being at an AYF dinner dance with Karnig Sarkissian and Harout Pamboukjian performing.
By the end of the second song, almost all the kids and campers had got up and started to dance in the tight cramped spots between the chairs, not caring that there was no space to move, only caring to express the cultural connection between music and dance. Being there in that moment, I felt that we were all truly connected as Armenians, even though none of us lived in the Republic of Armenia or Artsakh.
Not only did these young kids show their cultural expressionism at this concert, but they did the same at our song competition at the end of the day. Each group had prepared a series of heghapokhagan songs for their groups to perform, and they all sang so beautifully it made you want to cry.
My group had a soloist that was going to lead the rest of the group in the songs “Karabakh eem” and “Hayastan Ashkhar.” This girl had an absolutely beautiful voice, and you couldn’t help getting goosebumps when she sang; not only because of the powerful effect of her voice, but also because you could see her getting lost in her own words.
Unfortunately, on the day of the song competition, this poor girl had gotten sick, lost her voice, and couldn’t sing at all. Our group leaders went into a panicked frenzy. She was supposed to lead all the songs we had prepared, and we didn’t know what we were going to do last minute.
As the kids were going up to perform, we still had no idea what to do. We told them to sing “Getashen” and “Karabakh Eem” hoping they would somehow remember all the lyrics from when we taught them earlier in the week.
By some miracle, not only were they able to remember the lyrics, but the judges even picked them as the winners! The passion that they sang with was amazing, and I think it’s a certain musical passion you can find in every Armenian, and I was glad to have been able to find it in these kids.