- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
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 September 19, 2003 

Sights and Sounds: Autumn becomes the festive season

This year's "Kenats" festival poster is especially inviting.

Festive week is a correct description for these seven days of beautiful Armenian autumn. Three significant occasions, "Kenats" annual festival, "Sayat Nova" All-Armenian Best Song Award and Swiss - Armenian cultural events are taking place in Yerevan.

Sayat Nova is touching, "Kenats" is expected to become an exciting extravaganza of music, dance, performing and visual art that will attract everyone passing along Mashtots and Moscovyan streets on September 19-21.

The Swiss- Armenian cultural week (September 17-20) presents real opportunities for fans of classic and contemporary music and poetry as well as cinema. The purpose of this project is to introduce Armenian and Swiss art to the public in both countries, increasing their awareness of the nations' cultural heritage. The program consists of three concerts, each representing one generation of composers from each country.
The participation of the Armenian-Swiss poet Vahe Godel, as a binding link between them, serves as a pivot of the festival, which will be continued in Switzerland (dates will be defined at the end of September.)

The Sayat Nova jury has been working since May to select semifinalists from an original entry of 136 participants. It was not that easy as "everyone who knew musical notes decided to participate and present their compositions," says jury member David Ghazaryan, a professor of Yerevan State Conservatory.

"Two years ago participation was tougher than now. Musicians had to present compositions recorded in professional studios with all the necessary instrumental arrangements. However, this year we have even met such cases when the song was sung without any accompaniment, recorded on a very ordinary recorder at home," says another jury member, musician and producer Armen Manukyan. "In such conditions we just can't value the quality of the song."

The Sayat Nova All Armenian Best Song Annual Award was founded in 2000 and the first competition was between well-known Armenian composers such as Robert Amirkhanyan and Robert Petrosyan. With each year, however, the level of competition is declining and the reason lies mainly in participants' lack of professionalism.

Despite this, the second stage of "Sayat Nova 4" to find Armenia's best song will be taking place at Paronyan Theatre from September 18 to 21 as well as the "Vahagn 2" Arts Award. The ''Vahagn'' Arts Award includes 8 nominations: Best Film, Best Performance, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Reporting, Best Book, Best Dance Performance, and Best Visual Art Work.

"Kenats" festival is an exciting mixture of music, dance, visual art and performance.

Songs presented at the Sayat Nova contest and written during last year are divided into the following genres: contemporary song; children's song; and Ashugh's (Armenian folk bard) song accompanied by folk instruments
The first prize in each category is $2,500, with prizes of $1,500 and $1,000 for second and third place. There are also additional prizes for the best singers: $1,500 for first place, $1,000 for second, and $500 for third.

The total prize budget for The Sayat Nova All Armenian Best Song Award and ''Vahagn'' Arts Award financed by businessman Vahagn Hovnanyan, in total makes $55,000. Meanwhile the budget for organizing the festival is sponsored by different businessmen.

This year's contest will involve 71 composers who will be judged by 15 members of the jury, whose identities are supposed to be kept secret before the contest. But in general, despite some changes, every year the members are the same people.

"Our country is not so big and we can't change members of jury every year, so we can make only partial changes," says executive director of the Sayat Nova Foundation Samvel Mesropyan.

Contestant David Amalyan, who won the first prize at Sayat Nova 2001, thinks that for him it doesn't matter who is going to judge his art, in any case, if the song is written using professional skills and soul it will be appreciated.

Another Yerevan festival hasn't got such competitive problems. It will create just a joyful and funny time, where there won't be any winners or losers. It's the second year that the "Kenats" festival is taking place. Three days are filled with fun and excitement, great music and dining, arts and crafts, as well as Armenia's rich wine and brandy making traditions.

"The goal of this festival is to highlight Armenia's culture, agriculture and historic treasures, to revive and celebrate Armenia's rich harvest, customs and traditions," says Angela Sax-Aslanyan, head of the Armenian Tourism Development Agency, which organizes the "Kenats" festival.

This year, since Republic Square is under reconstruction, the Festival as well as the celebration of Armenia's Independence Day will be taking place at the Mashtots - Moscovyan crossroad and in the neighboring parks.

The festival starts with the concert "Parliament for the People" on the majestic grounds of the National Assembly. The concert includes participation by the National Opera and Ballet Theatre Symphonic orchestra and singer Gegham Grigoryan.

Since September 17, pavilions have been set up at the Mashtots - Moscovyan crossroad. Different Armenian companies present their products, surrounded with various exhibitions of sculptures, paintings, ancient carpets and handcrafts. During the whole three days delicious ethnic Armenian cuisine will be on sale.

Performances will go on at small stages in the parks to introduce audiences to our old national customs, traditional ceremonies of marriage and christening, lavash and wine making. Among passers-by one can meet even legendary inhabitants of Old Yerevan, such as the boy selling water, Karabala, Mad Kolya…

Throughout the weekend, the festival will be bursting with energy, brightly costumed dancers and singers, displays of arts and crafts, and showcases of traditional costumes. In addition it will turn Yerevan into an urban fairground with sidewalk sales and horse carriages.

On September 21 at 1.30pm a carnival parade will start off from the Matenadaran with 14 dance groups, six carriages and four orchestras to mark the 12th anniversary of Armenia's independence. A spectacular fireworks display will conclude what is sure to be a memorable celebration of life.

According to Agnes
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September 15, Progressive Youth Union of Armenia demonstrated its attitude towards ArmenTel by protesting in front of the buiding of the telecommunication company with posters saying, "We demand quality communication". People passing by joined the protesters trampling down telephones. No connection, no need in phones.



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