A Young Artist’s Review of the George Kazazian Concert in Cairo

This following article by Kegham Djeghalian was posted on AGBU Egypt, it has been edited for clarity:

In the tiny Armenian auditorium of Belekdanian Serah, I found myself sitting witnessing what seemed like a tech rehearsal of a band.  It was the White Lotus Project headed by our favorite Georges Kazazian in the process of adjusting their lights, sounds and instruments. The White Lotus, formed of Swiss, Armenian and Egyptian musicians, totally contrasted with the habitual Armeno-centric audience – a typically Armenian cultural setting with an international fusion of artists on its stage.

The music starts …

The first morceau evokes a typically Parisian tune that one hears in one’s stereotypically dreamy “nuit Parisienne.” This recognizable tune gradually melts into a new genre as it mingles with the oud. The second piece is introduced by fusing sounds, vocals, and improvised solos that eventually progresses into a familiar melodic tune which becomes a recurrent theme in that piece; a medley of melodic and rhythmic experiments set to invigorate its audience with this peculiar stimulating energy. They move into the third piece that sounds like a variation on a gypsy dance. The Balkan Klezmer streak in and it is quite prominent.

Nothing was direct, nothing was dull, nothing was prevu … every piece was full of surprises so far. My body and guts were constantly moving yearning for a more physical reaction to the music; stand up and dance … but alas the setting did not allow it!

The fourth piece, Samarkand, rendered a very expressionist musical agenda. It is like Ravel meets Gershwin but with Eastern percussions. They move into the fifth piece that is a beautifully rhythmic tune merging the likes of Celtic and Nubian dances. This Mazurka like piece is separated with an interlude of dreamy airs.

Kazazian knows his audience and he concludes his concert with a piece entitled Armenia. It is just a wittingly subtle play on different Armenian themes but of course with the usual unexpected twist and accent. Kazazian has not fallen into the easy romantic/nostalgic take on one’s national folklore which even makes this piece a much greater and impressive one.

This constant successful flirtation with different genres and different world music only made this concert not only an enjoyable musical soiree but also an anthropologically engaging experience. I was so moved and challenged by the music that even the relentlessly undisciplined noisy audience did not bother me.

Cheers to White Lotus …

To view a video of the concert, click here.


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