25 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE: FROM FOREIGN AFAIRS TO SPORTS
ARMENIAN INDPENDENCE

25 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE: FROM FOREIGN AFAIRS TO SPORTS

Sergey Smbatyan: Artistic director of The State Youth Orchestra of Armenia (SYOA) on CULTURE

Summarizing results of the first quarter century of Armenia's independence in various spheres.

Text: Sergey Smbatyan / Photos: Pan Photo


Armenia has always been a country with a rich and quite difficult history. And the fact it gained independence is nothing but a matter of pride. I have studied abroad for a certain period and it was really a great feeling for me to have a chance to represent my small independent nation. During the years I have spent outside Armenia I have realized that the value is the strongest thing in a person`s life. The values of your country and the nation are the most important bricks of building your own values. Saying small I mean the quantity, because there are so many heroes that make Armenia recognizable. I just want to compare the feelings of being inside the country and being abroad. The feeling of pride towards your homeland is much stronger, when you are outside the country, far away from your home. People always tend to compare themselves, their own homeland with the biggest and the most successful countries, but in our case it is not very honest to do so. We should understand that the quantity also matters and it is not fair to compare ourselves with, for instance, a country with a multiethnic population of 56 million. We are a mono-ethnic country with a common heritage, same targets. Taking into account the historical background of our country and the mentality we have, I can surely say that I am a proud person to live in an independent country, which celebrates its 25th anniversary.

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We always speak about some three million of Armenians meaning those who live in Armenia, but you can surely find Armenians everywhere in the world. This is another proof that we can implement our talents in other societies as well. And this becomes possible due to the consciousness of coming and representing an independent country. I can speak for my Armenian friends of my generation, leaving abroad and tell you that it is great to have an opportunity to build our own country. The State Youth Orchestra of Armenia has been performing for over ten years. This means that we have a state, a country, a nation, a government, which can take care of young professionals. And I think this means a lot for the country. Again, comparing Armenia with other countries, I can surely state that there is a number of foreign countries, which still do not have a state youth orchestra. April 24 1915 was the day of annihilation of the representatives of Armenian intellectuals. And now, a century later, a younger generation has a chance to show the rebirth of Armenian intellectual heritage. I am not speaking only from the political point of view. All this is very important for a modern society. I try to communicate with our audience, people can just come up to me in the streets and say that they attend our concerts. I am so happy that we managed to associate the classical music with success. There used to be a misunderstanding of this sphere, as we had a heritage of Soviet Union concerning the term “state”. And what we have now is a huge success for a small country like Armenia.

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 When one has got a certain amount of money, he can decide what they wants to spend it for. It also depends on the person`s intellect and values. If one has values, it means we will have future. I studied in London when I was young. The orchestras in London use private money. So if the sponsors decide to stop funding, everything will end in a second. In our case the budget we get from our government is not that much, we cannot have a tour in Europe or in the USA only with this money, but the presence of the term “state” is so important for us. The success of the orchestra during these ten years shows that we are the children, the product of an independent country. During the Soviet times there was a saying that when a young family wanted to set up their own apartment the first thing they bought was a table, a chair and a piano. It meant a lot for us. Notes were the second alphabet for Armenian children. When I meet a person, who knows nothing about classical music, anyway there is a deep respect towards music and art in total. This is truth and this is amazing. Now I consider the talented people among the Armenian youth as real champions, I mean the quantity of the populations and so many achievements in different spheres that we have. Of course, our country has got so many economic, political and social issues. Each issue in every sphere is of great importance. This is a complex issue, it’s like a child, which has to be raised. All these is about the process of building.

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 We have accumulated an extraordinary quantity of knowledge here in Armenia, but the problem is that we fail to make branding here. There are so many talents here, just phenomenal people, but we do not even realize this fact and we know nothing about their branding. Probably there is less quantity of talents in Europe, but they manage to make a perfect packaging and we want to buy that ready packaging instead of producing our own. Our success story is based on the knowledge, coming from the old generation, the enthusiasm we possess and the vision. My vision is that we have a great country and a nation, knowing what the real values are. Education is the basic and the main tool for us. All these are the components for the great future of our country. There is a huge difference before and after gaining independence. The most important change is the independent and free way of thinking. Although we keep speaking about past, I am sure, we will have a great future. I will give you just a few names of the musicians, the representatives of young independence generation, who can make a change in the world. They are Sergey Khachatryan, Narek Hakhnazaryan, Gevorg Hakobyan and Tigran Hamasyan. That is it. The most important thing is that they are either based in or have a very close connection with Armenia.

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 We are celebrating the 25th anniversary of independence this year and I have an idea to show what a real independent country is. “Independence Generation” project is kind of a storytelling about the generation of 25 year olds, I mean the “children” of independence. Saying Armenia we always mean only Yerevan, the main of this project is to show that whole Armenia, including all the cities and regions, have this huge heritage of culture. So five hundred musicians of the orchestra and another five hundreds musicians from all the regions of Armenia will get together on September 21 in the Republic Square. The maximum age of the musicians is 25. Imagine, one thousand young musicians are given a stage to perform classical music. These are the voices and the sounds of independence.

 Our orchestra is really unique; you will not find its parallel in the world. We are one nation, the representatives of one generation, we are the only art team where each member was born in independent Armenia, all of us have graduated from the State Conservatory, mentally we are on the same wave and you can hear this in our sound. Armenia has a great culture of performing art. And that is our mission and responsibility to show that and to continue presenting the classical heritage of great composers.