In this moment, at the risk of seeming opportunistic, I want to tell you about a special concert coming up that has everything to do with immigration and the power of cultural synergy.
The Either/Orchestra has been playing the music of Nerses Nalbandian for six years. Our CD, "Ethiopiques 32: Nalbandian the Ethiopian," will be coming out in March, and on February 19 we'll be celebrating Nalbandian at the Mosesian Theater of the Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown MA.
Over several decades Nerses rose to become the first music director at Selassie's national theater, and among other things wrote the original anthem for the Organization of African States (now the African Union).
He brought knowledge of European music, Armenian church music, and his wide open ears to Ethiopia. Incorporating American jazz, pop and Latin music into the Ethiopian sound he helped set the stage for the phenomenal Ethiopian music of the 1960's and 70's.
He was a refugee and an immigrant.
Our concert will include music by Nalbandian which has remained mostly unplayed for decades, except by us. As an added feature, we will feature music by three of his major inspirations: the Armenian composer Komitas, the first big Latin star in the US, Xavier Cugat, and Ray Charles.
Our ten-piece band will be augmented by four wonderful singers: Bruck Tesfaye of Debo Band, Serena Tchorbajian, Manolo Mairena and Ronald Murphy, singing in Amharic, Armenian, Spanish and English, respectively.
A pre-concert talk will be delivered by French-Armenian scholar Boris Adjemian.
When I say this will be a unique event, I'm not exaggerating. It will be a celebration of what happens when people cross borders of every kind: geographic, political, ethnic, cultural. This process is the story of the advancement of humanity.
The theater is small, so I recommend buying tickets well in advance - and the concert is only three weeks away.
Hoping to see you there...
Presented by the Friends of Armenian Culture Society