In a van leaving Noravank Monastery, we seven Young Professionals traveled in an hour from the 13th Century into the 21st. Greeting us outside our Yerevan hotel was a concert stage, a group of young Armenian rockers, and the bands performing for them. Charles Aznavour Square was transformed by the sounds of jazzy rock rhythms and saxophone expressions from the band Road Movie and the heavy metallic serenades of Dogma, whose lead singer Zara Gevorgyan entwined classic Armenian dance gestures and a silky Eastern voice around the deep Western-born beats energetically strummed off the bass guitar.
In the meantime, a young Armenian, in his 20s sporting a jean jacket quite like mine, turned and asked me if I was American. He quickly picked up that this was my first visit, as a Diaspora Armenian. Our equal participation in the concert brought us both a sense of pleasure, and through the booming sounds emitting from the speakers and amidst the passionate cheers of fans, he strained to hear my answers to his questions full of curiosity as to my experiences in Armenia. My smile seemed to tell him what he wanted (and was glad) to know. In an eagerness to return the favor with his own thoughts, he handed me a pamphlet on Armenian politics and urged me to take it, to learn more of what young people believe Armenia can achieve in the future.
Rock music is not heard as much in Armenia as other genres – classic Middle Eastern styles being a prominent flavor, both in pop and classical music. But just as rock music brought young people together in America decades ago, the modes of this music are doing the same for today’s young Armenians, looking for new ways to express hopes for the country, as a democracy self-sufficient amongst nations.
Take a look at the youtube video link from this festival and see how Armenians are adopting a Western genre to their own expressive needs. Hopefully, for a few minutes, you can feel the energy of having been there yourself.