Burbank: Giving it all for their art

Burbank Leader , CA
Aug 11 2004

Giving it all for their art

Contestants go for the gold at the World Championships of Performing
Arts this week at Hilton Burbank.
By Jackie Conley, The Leader

MEDIA DISTRICT NORTH – Scattered around the Hilton Burbank Airport
and Convention Center on Tuesday morning, vocal competitors and
aspiring actors patiently sat waiting for their turn to represent
their country and impress the judges in the second day of the
competition at the World Championships of Performing Arts.

“The primary thing to do is to develop competitive material,” said
CSM Words and Music producer Shele Sondheim, a judge for the
competition. “The highest high is to come prepared and be really on
top of your game.”

Sondheim said he hopes this competition will spark international
interest in the arts and encourage people to embrace performers like
they do the athletes in the Olympics.

“Music and art is an international language,” Sondheim said.

Ilhama Gulkiyeva has participated in more than 200 competitions
internationally and is a popular singer in her native Azerbaijan,
located between Iran and Russia. But for her, the World Championships
of Performing Arts could bring a significant change in the way the
arts are perceived in her country.

“My president said if we do well here, he will have big prizes
waiting for us when we return,” she said.

Gulkiyeva said the president of her country encourages the performing
arts, and she hopes this will reflect a positive change in the way
artists are viewed around the world.

“It seems like everything is done for athletes and not enough for
performers,” said Griff O’Neil, founder and director of the World
Championships of Performing Arts.

Gospel rap artist Emmanuel Edili, of Nigeria, said out of all the
competitions he’s been in, this one is important because it’s global.

“It helps you to appreciate different artistic styles,” he said.

Edili, 29, said the hardest thing for him in competition is the few
moments before going on stage.

“Because it’s in that moment there that you make a decision whether
or not you’re going to go out there and get through it,” he said.
“But you realize this is the opportunity to show them what you’re
made of.”

Singer Andrey Hovnanyan knows all about these types of opportunities.
At 25, he said he has already performed in several international
competitions in Germany, Japan and Belgium, and has performed in
front of crowds of 8,000 people.

This is the first time the Armenian singer will compete in the World
Championships, and he said he hopes to break into the American

“There’s something special about America,” Hovnanyan said. “It has a
strong influence around the world.”

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS