- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
March 19, 2004

Sailing on Sound: Armenian Navy Band opens home base in Yerevan

On March 13 the Armenian Navy Band and its founder Arto Tuncboyaciyan opened the doors of their long-expected “Avant Garde Folk Song Club and announced the release of the Armenian Navy Band's second compact disc, “The Voice of Our Life”.
The Navy Band has launched a new club in Yerevan.

“This club will become such a place where even the bravest ideas will be realized, where the borders separating artists from the art will be erased and the new things or old things presented in new form will be created,” says Tuncboyaciyan.

Twenty reporters from Europe and USA visited Armenia to participate at the opening ceremony of the club and to see the ANB's homeland.

“Ambition was not our stimulus when we were gathering the band,” its founder says. “We created our band to present our way and fame just only as a method of presenting our country.”

Vocalist and percussionist Tuncboyaciyan started ANB in 1989.

The group is composed of 12 Armenian musicians, among the best that live in Armenia at the moment and range in age from 20 to 45. Their music is self-composed and features traditional instruments – duduk, zurna, kyamancha, kanon, complemented by trombone, alto sax, tenor, soprano sax, trumpet, bass, drums, keyboard and piano.

The unusual name reflects its founder's credo.

“Our ship sweeps the seas of faith, confidence and love. When a person steps over habitual bounds by force and demonstrates how one can become a part of the world without losing his personality and roots then his ideas and beliefs will sail his ship without water,” Tuncboyaciyan says.

“When I was thinking of Armenian Navy Band I was thinking about people who would understand each other and accept each other without any borders. We found each other and my confidence in them was stronger than their own confidence.”

Percussionist Tuncboyaciyan leads a band of 12

Arto Tuncboyaciyan was born in Turkey in 1957. One of the greatest influences on his music and life was his brother Onno, also a musician, who encouraged Arto to develop his character not just as a brother but as a friend and as a musician.

At the age of 11, he began his career playing and recording traditional music with his brother establishing himself as a professional musician throughout Turkey and Europe . In 1981 Arto moved to the United States to explore new creative influences and to add a new dimension to his own vision of life. Since then, he has given solo concerts of his own music throughout the world.

He created his art and sometimes creates musical instruments to perform it. Bottles, pans, anything that can produce a sound turns into an instrument in his hands.

“Many people ask me why I have chosen alternative musical instruments, why I don't play things that people created long ago. I have answers for these questions but at the same time I cannot give answers to them,” says Arto. “I grew up in the place where Armenians were even afraid to speak Armenian. Our parents used to gather in the basements of churches and secretly sing Armenian songs. I would have liked to play Armenian instruments but how could I? There were no instruments, there were no people who could teach you to play. Those days I realized my musical intentions with the help of percussion instruments and instruments made by me.

According to Armenia 's “godfather of jazz”, pianist Levon Malkhasyan, the art of Arto and his band is simply astonishing:

“It is jazz which is always in motion. Arto finds magnificient methods for changes and innovations and he manages to stay true to folk music at the same time.”

Click here to listen to an online sample track by "Armenian Navy Band".

"Armenian Navy Band" - according to Agnes.

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Fire and Rain and a Rain of Fire

Georgian President Mikael Saakhasvili braved rain for a visit to the Genocide Memorial in Yerevan last Saturday. The next day, his motorcade was fired upon as he tried to enter Ajaria, a contentiously contested autonomous republic on Georgia's Black Sea coast.



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