Armenian-American musicians speak, perform in Watertown

Belmont Citizen-Herald, MA
Feb 11 2005

Armenian-American musicians speak, perform in Watertown
Friday, February 11, 2005

Leon Janikian, John Baboian, Sarine Balian, and Raffi Meneshian will
participate in a roundtable discussion on contemporary thinking in
the Armenian-American music world, on Sunday, Feb. 20 at 3 p.m. at
the Armenian Library and Museum of America, 65 Main St., Watertown.

Illustrating their comments with their own live and recorded
music and drawing from their own experience, they will confront some
of the major issues for Armenians in the diaspora in the music world
of today.

Belmont resident John Baboian, the moderator of this event, is
an associate professor of guitar at the Berklee College of Music in
Boston. He has been on the faculty since 1980, teaching all guitar
styles but focusing mainly on mainstream jazz. His performances have
taken him throughout the U.S. as well as to Japan, Russia, Central
America, Canada, Europe, Africa and Armenia. A composer and arranger
as well, his music has been heard on such television shows as “The
Sopranos,” “Walker, Texas Ranger,” and “All My Children.” His “Be-Bop
Guitars” group features an all-Berklee faculty band with five guitars
and a rhythm section.

Leon Janikian, associate professor of music and coordinator of
music industry at Northeastern University, has been an academician,
professional musician and recording engineer for over 40 years. Well
known in the Armenian community as a performer, Janikian was the
primary engineer/producer for over 150 records in all musical genres,
and for numerous multi-media and commercial productions. He is one of
the most sought-after musicians in the United States as a performer
of the traditional music of Armenia, Greece and the Middle East.
Janikian has been instrumental in the creation of the Archive of
Armenian Music in America.

Raffi Meneshian, founder and CEO of Pomegranate Music, has
produced four albums which have achieved popularity in the Armenian
community: Yeraz and Godfather Tom (Gor Mkhitarian), Quake: Avant
Garde Armenian Folk Music (Bambir), and, just issued, Shoror:
Armenian folk music for guitar (Iakovos Kolanian). In addition,
Menehsian has been the executive producer on three other CDs for his
music label, Pomegranate Music. He is known for the live concerts he
has produced, most notably the Armenstock Festival and the Lilit
Pipoyan U.S. tour. He is a member of the Recording Academy, where he
holds a vote for the Grammy Awards, and is a contributor to Global
Rhythm Magazine and the Armenian Weekly.

Though relatively new to the San Francisco music scene, vocalist
Sarine Balian, after performing with numerous Bay Area groups, has
made her mark as a soloist. Specializing in jazz and world music, she
performs haunting music reflective of her textured cultural
background and spirituality. She performs with a jazz trio, and on
occasion doumbek. She was raised in Lebanon and the U.S., and
performs traditional ethnic songs and American standards. Balian
teaches instrumental music at Krouzian Zekarian Vasbouragan Armenian
School in San Francisco.

The conversation among the musicians will be followed by an open
discussion with the audience.

“Armenian Music/ians in the Diaspora” will be videotaped by
Roger Hagopian and aired on local cable television.

Immediately following this event, the newly published book,
“Armenians of New England,” will be available for purchase and
signing by Leon Janigian. Armenian music CDs by the participating
musicians will also be available, and a reception will follow.

This is the third in a series of presentations held at the
Armenian Library and Museum of America celebrating the opening of the
Mesrob Boyajian Library, a facility designed for use by scholars at
all levels engaged in research on topics related to the Armenian
people, as well as to the general public wishing to peruse scholarly
or popular works of history and literature relating to Armenia and
the Armenians.

ALMA is the only independent Armenian museum in the Diaspora
funded solely through contributions of individual supporters. Founded
in 1971, ALMA’s mission is to present and preserve the culture,
history, art and contributions of the Armenian people to Americans
and Armenians alike. Since its inception, ALMA’s collection has grown
to over 18,000 books and 20,000 artifacts, making it perhaps the
largest and most diverse holding of Armenian cultural artifacts
outside of Armenia. As a repository for heirlooms, the collection now
represents a major resource not only for Armenian studies research,
but as well as for preservation and illustration of the Armenian
heritage. In 1988, ALMA acquired a 30,000 square foot facility in
Watertown – one of North America’s oldest and most active Armenian
communities. The facility includes exhibition galleries, library,
administrative offices, function hall, climate-controlled vaults and
conservation lab.

For further information, call the Armenian Library and Museum of
America, 617-926-2562, ext. 3.