Three decades after holding their legendary concert to support relief efforts in Armenia, Rock Aid Armenia’s initiator Jon Dee and two of its legendary performers returned “home” for a visit. June 6th was a real holiday at Octet Music School in Gyumri. Dee was joined by Ian Gillan of Deep Purple, Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath, and their respective families.
Invited to Armenia by Mediamax — the initiator of the Octet renovation — they came to celebrate 30 years of support to Armenia, specifically for Gyumri. The visit to Octet had a special place throughout the celebrations, as Gillan and Iommi first visited it 10 years ago as part of Mediamax’s Armenia Grateful 2 Rock project.
The school was all but destroyed during the 1988 earthquake and, until recently, students had to continue to carry out their lessons in temporary containers. After seeing these substandard conditions, Dee and his organization, Do Something, decided to join forces with the musicians to raise money and build a new school. They collaborated with Mediamax, FAR and the Mardigian Family Foundation, and opened a brand-new new school in 2013.
Octet Music School students prepared a lovely concert for the guests’ long-awaited visit, which opened with Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” and also included other hits like “Highway Star” and Black Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell.”
Octet graduate Nune Nazaryan, 26, who performed with Ian Gillan 10 years ago as a student, also rocked the stage with her band, By The Way. The room was so full that spectators spilled out into the hallway.
Tony Iommi toured the school, as he wasn’t able to attend its opening ceremony back in 2013. “Amazing,” he said of the improvements after noting that he felt proud for having contributed to the rebirth of Octet Music School.
“It was fantastic, just fantastic,” Gillan told Mediamax. “The spirit of music is here again. Music is the easiest way to unite people and to make them happy.”
See photos from the day below.