Friday, June 1, 2007


I sang a recital last Sunday at the Komitas Chamber Music Hall in downtown Yerevan. This is remarkable for two reasons:

First, my voice teacher Susanna tricked me into agreeing to the recital. She asked after my first one, in December, whether I could do another before I left Yerevan, and I said no. Then she got me to agree to sing in a joint recital with her other students, and I'd only have to prepare "two or three songs." That sounded manageable. As she kept throwing more music at me, I figured that we'd choose two or three out of the bunch. We got up to about a dozen. Finally, I said "I'm the only one singing, aren't I?" She admitted I was. "And I have to sing all these songs?" She admitted I did.

Second, the Komitas Chamber Music Hall is one of basically two professional performance spaces in Yerevan for small music groups. And they let me, a complete dilletante, sing there. No audition, no questions asked. They even made a poster. Unlike at my last recital, however, the TV cameras did not show up. That was a good thing, because my singing was much worse this time than the last time.

But although I and Susanna agreed I had sung better, I received nothing but praise from my loyal friends in the audience, and from the random Armenians who came in off the street. One guy reverse-heckled me while I was singing. I don't know what else you would call it - he called out loudly and somewhat obnoxiously while I was singing and in between pieces. Things like "I love America!" "Bravo!" And then after the concert, another of the audience members handed me a card, written in Armenian sufficiently poetic that I only understood about three words of it. Roughly translated by a friend, it is an anagram poem that talks about God singing through me. Very nice, but clearly this guy doesn't know that much about singing. Or maybe he was just impressed to hear an American sing in Armenian.

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