Notes From Hairenik
June 22, 2009

On Saturday night about 600 people turned out for a surprise performance by the legend of Russian rock music, Andrei Makarevich. Early that afternoon a rumor was spreading via Facebook that the musician was in town to help promote the erecting of a museum to house the stellar Kilikia ship, which was built in 2002 and made a fantastic voyage of the “Seven Seas.” Being a devout lover of scuba and deep-sea diving he felt inclined to show his support for the safe harbor of the magnificent wooden vessel. It’s still not clear however where exactly the museum will end up being constructed and how it will be financed.

Makarevich was one of the founders of Russian rock when the just-budding song form was underground in the 1960s. When he approached the stage I recognized him from a cooking show that he used to host on Russian television until recently. Although I am not a fan of Russian Rock by any means, his songs, which were all sung solo as he plucked away at an acoustic guitar, were quite nice. In between songs he fielded questions written on notes from the audience that were read by the local radio personality Egor Glumov sitting beside him. Unfortunately, after nearly five years of living in Armenia I’ve made very little headway in learning Russian so I didn’t understand what he was talking about, although some words were translated for me, but everyone around me seemed very impressed. The intimate show lasted for about 90 minutes.

Sunday was the Féte de la Musique, when several concerts were being given across the city center. At 8:00 pm a rock concert held in front of Cinema Moscow featuring performances by several local bands, among them the newly formed Road Movie and the legendary Empyray, which incidentally is arguably the best rock act in Armenia at the moment. There were only a couple hundred kids in attendance, some of whom were head-banging, a first sighting for me here. Just as rock was underground in the Soviet Union a few decades back, it has a near cult following in Armenia today. If you're a teenager and you listen to rock music, you are a very special person indeed--this concert was proof-positive of that. 

Across town starting at 10:30 pm was a classical concert. The entire program was music sung by several choirs, including Hover, which has gained distinction over the last several years. The concert was given in the park across from the Opera House where the Gomitas statue is located (I think that green space is known as “Lovers Park”).

Anyway, that presentation was simply lovely, and I wish they put on more of such free public performances. Yerevan has become stale of late with boring, bad pop music pseudo concerts in wide-open spaces showcasing singers lip syncing to the crap they supposedly genuinely recorded. Bring on the classics, and throw in some jazz concerts one in a while, too.

Photos by Anush

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