Musaner, Awakening, Komitas, Inspiration

Ara Sarkissian and MUSANER
Ara Sarkissian and MUSANER

Last Saturday night we were at an interesting and special concert. Despite all of the efforts of the organizers to advertise to the local Armenian communities, only about sixty to seventy people came and most of them seemed non-Armenian.  I was very disappointed in the Armenian turnout but was very happy that my beautiful wife did not let me miss it. Ara Sarkissian had done a fantastic job organizing the folk-jazz ensemble. To sample some of the most beautiful Armenian sounds you can visit his Komitas Project page. The project is named after the great Armenian composer Soghomon Soghomonyan named Komitas after a poet and author of sharakans from VII century. Some of Komitas’ works can be freely downloaded from here.

Ara Sarkissian’s ensemble with majority non-Armenian musicians played a different kind of jazz, one that intertwined the classical with the modern, the Armenian with the non-Armenian, the simple with the complex, resulting in an absolutely great evening. Of these, the ratio of Armenian to non-Armenian sounds and the contrast between the two reflected life for me. We speak Armenian and English in roughly the same proportion and attend Armenian events and participate in the Armenian culture in a similar mix. The Armenian culture, with a smaller footprint in this country, in the world, and in his concert, nonetheless is very close to heart, special, and necessary for me as it was for his music. Also, Armenian culture can be understood, appreciated and celebrated by many non-Armenians the same way that the melodies were played and celebrated by his non-Armenian musicians. Just as some amount of reality is required in humor, some amount of life is required in art. The concert had a great amount of life and represented a welcome encounter with art.


  1. LD:
    Last night, we visited a restaurant which specializes in “global soul food.”

    We sampled many different ethnic dishes, but our stand-out favorite was the “Manti in Yogurt Sauce.” This was the first time I’ve tried Manti, and (even if it wasn’t authentic) the unique blend of herbs and spices were a festival for the taste buds.

    It’s striking that there are no Armenian restaurants — virtually every other important (and obscure) culture/nationality is represented in the cuisine where we live — but not Armenian. I wonder why that is?

  2. Rocky – This one requires some research. I don’t know the answer and don’t want to find or make reasons (yet). For a people who consider food such an important part of ethnic identity, I too find it very strange that there are no decent Armenian restaurants around here.

    Regarding Manti, my beautiful wife of Western Armenian descent likes it as much as I (of Eastern Armenian descent) like Khinkali and Pelmeni. I don’t think any of these are strictly Armenian dishes which are as difficult to define as American dishes. I still find it fascinating that so many cultures share the types of food with various alterations (dumplings in this case) with each having great pride in its particular variation. How billions can be made by multinationals that have nothing like Manti on their lists of value meals is beyond me. 🙂

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