A few months ago, you could barely find a street musician in Kentron (downtown) Yerevan. Only two old patriots in the North Avenue held their corner playing Accordion and singing nationalist pieces and folk songs about Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh Republic). This year has been a tough time for a nation whose identity is interwoven with music, from Sayat Nova and Komitas to contemporary musicians Arthur Meschian and Serj Tankian.
Armenians were involved in a war (27 Sep. – 10 Nov. 2020), not the first one, but the worst one in the past three decades, with more than 3000 lives lost. Many did not even celebrate the new year (2021), many spent their new year midnight in Yerablur (Military cemetery located on a hilltop in the outskirts of Yerevan), and none of the customary celebrations were held in Republic Square.
In past weeks street musicians are again occupying the urban fabric and filling the space with memorable melodies, like this young man sitting just beside the Opera (Freedom) Square on a bench in the freezing weather, his keyboard piano and amplifier. Making sure that the people ice skating in the park pool temporarily turned skating rink, seen further in the background, do not miss the rhythm.
When I arrived, he played the melody of an internationally famous Russian pop song called “Million Roses,” originally performed by Alla Pugacheva in the Soviet era, which has been covered in many languages like French, Italian, English, Persian, Spanish, Korean, etc.
— Shokraan Rahiminezhad, Environmental Psychology, GC CUNY