Tuesday, April 21, 2009
John Berberian Concert - Sunday, April 19, 2009
For those of you who have been wondering why I've been remiss in my posting duties, I have a good excuse. I just got back from a long weekend in Massachusetts. My girlfriend and I were in Boston on Saturday and were the only visitors not in town to see or participate in the city's marathon. We did, however, have some wonderful seafood at Atlantic Fish. The real reason we went back east was to travel to Worcester the next day. When we got there on Sunday, we were the only visitors not in town to see the Dead concert. No, we were there to experience some far more interesting music: the legendary oud master John Berberian and Ensemble.
I was fortunate enough to find out about For You, Armenia, a concert organized by the Armenian Students' Association at College of the Holy Cross where he was slated to perform. Berberian and his group - consisting of Mal Barsamian on clarinet and guitar, Harry Bedrosian on keyboards, and Bruce Gigarjian on dumbeg (hand drum) - did not disappoint in the slightest.
I consider this man to be a giant in music, as important for the oud as Hendrix was for the electric guitar and Coltrane was for the saxophone, and I just could not pass up this opportunity to see him live. Berberian and his group played two sets of astounding traditional Armenian material, split between tranquil pieces and intense polyrhythmic numbers intended for belly dancing. And of course, John unleashed some jaw-dropping solos on his oud that sent chills up and down my spine.
I think they did about a dozen pieces in total. The concert also featured Ani and Fr. Untzag Nalbandian, a talented daughter and father musical combo whose performances were more on the classical side of things, but still definitely entertaining. She helped me get tickets for the show, and for that I'm eternally grateful.
It's still sinking in that I actually got to see one of my musical idols perform live, in a very intimate 200-seat theater no less. The icing on the cake was that I got to interview him at his home for nearly two hours after the show. I'm happy to say that he's a gracious host and a truly nice guy. My real-life alter ego will be publishing our discussion in at least one publication in the near future.
Nothing to download here, but I thought some of you might want to see the photos.
I'm gonna do my darnedest to post some music tomorrow. Honest.