A Day Later …

I actually started to compose this post in the evening of April 24. Anticipating already the sentiment that the days following when Armenians commemorate the Genocide, everyone’s social media posts and online news would go back to “regularly scheduled programming”.

Then I stopped for a moment began to ponder about the possibilities of continued posts and articles that talk about the Armenian genocide, as well as the current blockade in Artsakh. Perhaps this year might be different than the past. Maybe we would continue to at least the end of April talking about the Genocide. 

Like a child awaiting gifts on their birthday or awaiting to see a loved one come home from a long trip – the hope I had was that the gas pedal would still be pressed and I would continue to read posts or news items focused on the Genocide and Artsakh. 

I paused on April 24 to finish writing this post…

On May 16, I picked up where I left off. What I feared came true. We all but stopped posting stories, personal anecdotes, pictures, etc by April 25th. Some postings still lingered, but the news outlets moved on to other news and just like that – sadly, we wont see these types of posts until next April. 

Of course the first question that comes to my mind is (and has always been) Why has the commemoration of the Armenian Genocide turned into a one or two day event throughout the United States? When I read social media posts what I see is one lecture/educational event hosted by an Armenian organization for Armenians, and then a church service.  Why is our focus on one day a year? 

When the world commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide a few years ago, I was (pleasantly) amazed by the amount of events and creativity surrounding commemorating this important anniversary. Throughout the year, I thought, maybe we have finally understood the magnitude of how to get the worlds attention. We certainly had shown we have the talent and creativity to promote awareness of the Genocide. 

However, we have now reverted back to years prior to the 100th anniversary and subsequent years. 

There is more that could be written, but this was meant for us to reflect and I welcome your comments as to how we can do better….

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Is anyone listening to us?

Every year I feel the strong obligation to publish a post surrounding the events of the Armenian Genocide which occurred on April 24, 1915. With each passing year, it becomes harder and harder to find the appropriate words due to an immense amount of frustration as I feel no one cares about what happens to the Armenian people. I am tired. I wary from the sense that I feel a continued sense of commitment to try and educate and have people listen to us as Armenians. I feel no one hears us.

The flag of the Republic of Artsakh

As of publishing this post, I am sure in the coming days and months the Armenians in Artsakh (who are suffering by the hands of the Azeri Turkish government) will face continued horrific fates. A blockade which began in December, 2022 is currently killing our people. Plain and simple. Once again, the world sits back and ignores the Armenian people while supporting the Republic of Turkey and Azerbaijan.

Check out Wikipedia (not an extremely valid source for information – but I found this interesting) that I think accurately captures the sentiment from the non-Armenian community as it pertains to Artsakh: “It is widely suspected that the blockade is being orchestrated by the Azerbaijani government as a form of hybrid warfare“.  Widely suspected...really?! Its more than suspected when it is absolute truth and reality that they are holding a race of people with the intent purpose of suffocating the life from them and eliminate the race from (once again) ancient Armenian lands.

I am such a loss for words. In the past I have let music or quotations speak about feelings surrounding ‘mans inhumanity to man’ with the hope that the message get’s heard but I feel that there is little we as Armenians can do to get anyone to listen and react to help our people. Sorry, but a handful of political proclamations and and speeches simply doesn’t cut it.

However, I wont stop trying. I cant, not in the name of my family (and those that perished at the hands of the Turkish government) or those that have died over the centuries and continue to die to this day.

If you are reading this and whether or not you are Armenian doesn’t matter – please forward this to someone and pass the word along. Don’t do it for me, do it for Artsakh.

Some of my other posts that no one listened to:

The Genocide defines who I am as an Armenian

One year later, what’s next?

Our Home to Artsakh – Virtual Concert Fundraiser, March 25

Importance is recognized this 100th Year

100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide

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Zilan Tigris, Armenian Singer Killed in Earthquake

Recently, Syria and Turkey suffered a devasting 7.8 magnitude earthquake, the largest in over a century for this region.  At the time of this post, over 12,000 have been confirmed dead and I am sure this number will increase over time. Many innocent lives have been lost, including many Armenians.

The devastation in viewing the photos and videos online are reminiscent of the time Armenia suffered a massive 6.8 magnitude earthquake in 1988 killing tens of thousands of Armenians. Viewing such images is extremely difficult. I saw one photo of a father holding his daughters hand as she was dead under the rubble. No real words.

In recent days, we have learned that the musical community lost a well-known Armenian/Kurdish singer, Zilan Tigris along with her husband, Çağdaş Çankaya due to the destruction of their Diyarbakir home and becoming trapped in the ruble. Their bodies were finally recovered. As one news agency reported “..stating that the voice of the artist and his wife could be heard from under the rubble, but they could not do anything.” Simply heartbreaking.

Too be honest, I was not overly familiar with Zilan or her music.  As I write this piece, I am listening to her music and it amplifies what a beautiful voice and soul we have all lost. It is heartbreaking to hear such a sweet voice and think the world will no longer have an opportunity to listen to her music. She released one album just three year ago called Geliver and it demonstrates the dynamic range she had as a vocalist.

Not much is written about Zilan, however I have read several social media posts by those that either knew her or had an opportunity to meet her. “I am writing with shaky hands. unfortunately we lost our beautiful sister Zilan Tigris and her husband” said Udi Yervant, an oudist and one of Zilan’s friends.

May her soul rest in peace and her music live on forever.

Their is a fundraiser to assist the Armenians suffering in Aleppo, Syria.  has collected over $32.000.00. due to the generosity of many community members and friends, individuals, and families. Please consider to support this fundraiser, for the need is tremendous and every donation is needed and much appreciated. CLICK TO DONATE >>

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Michigan Arts and Culture Council Members Highlight 2022

Recently, council members (for which I am one of them) of the Michigan Arts & Culture Council (MACC) reflected on 2022 and shared their memorable highlights that occurred in Michigan.

I have often blogged about the work of MACC and more importantly, the team led by Alison Watson that deploy help around the state in creating opportunity for arts and culture to be available and accessible to our various communities. I wanted to include what some of the council and team members reflected on with the following posts that appeared on several of the MACC social media channels including Facebook.


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A New Year that comes with…

We rung out 2022 and rung in 2023 and like many of us do, we either really loved the previous year and look forward to the new year, or we say “good riddens” to the previous year and pray for a better one.

Articles and social media postings will focus on either end of the spectrum as well as provide resolutions for the new year. When I thought about commenting on this with my bloggy bit, I first said “Well, I wrote about this before – I am no different than the other postings!” However, upon a little digging into my bloggy pasts, I did not see anything that even resembled a post like this. Huzzah!

I must agree that with any new year, its hard not to reflect and grade the previous year with aspirations of the new and fresh year. The resolution thing…I dunno….seems overkill and a short lived goal session (I know…bah humbug)

Having aspirations and goals for a new year is a good thing, but lets keep those realistic and obtainable. The last thing you want is to get towards the end of the year and get upset that you didn’t hit your resolution on winning the lottery.

Too be honest, I am probably behind the eight ball a bit because I have goals swirling in my head that need to be put on paper. As a visual guy, I like to see what my path is and check those off as accomplished. Instead, I am writing about what I want to do – seems backwards or I am just trying to get into the groove to put pen to paper, metaphorically speaking.

A goal I never wrote down was to make sure I blogged at least once a month. I’m off to a good start…this is my second post within the same month (actually…2 in one day!!)

Happy new year to all of you and I hope your goals are obtained in 2023!

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Public Domain Day was January 1st

January 1st of each year marks Public Domain Day. I have to be honest and tell you that I had never paid attention to this annual “holiday”, but this year there seems to be some additional buzz surrounding the different creative works which are now public domain. (Keep reading to learn why)

Public domain is when a creative work’s copyright expires and essentially is up for grabs after a period of 70 years. (Realizing, I am over simplifying the definition) There was a 20-year freeze back in 1998 (thanks to Sonny Bono) that was federally established, so we are now seeing many creative works fall under public domain.

What caught my eye this year was an article by Jennifer Jenkins, Director of Duke’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain. In this article she not only lists many books, soundtracks and movies that now fall under public domain but she discusses why we should celebrate Public Domain Day. Before reading her full article, I didn’t fully appreciate how a creative piece entering public domain was a benefit to the greater community. As a musician, I have always viewed public domain from the standpoint of protection/ownership of a creative work. However, after reading Jenkin’s article/guide, I can appreciate the notion of something entering public domain which allows greater access. As she puts it – “where future authors can legally build on the past—reimagining the books, making them into films, adapting the songs and movies”. Read her article, it provides some fascinating information on both copyright issues and public domain.

As I said earlier, what drew my attention to this topic were the actual creative works which fell under public domain this year. Many well known authors like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Ernest Hemingway have works which now qualify under public domain as well as several soundtracks by jazz legends “Fats” Waller and Louis Armstrong. As a old movie buff, especially some of the great silent movies, there are several classics which now fall under public domain. Notably, Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927) and the lost film featuring Lon Chaney, London After Midnight (1927). A pivotal year in movie creation as the talkies emerged with the Al Jolson’s The Jazz Singer.

Next year…will be interesting. As an avid admirer of Charlie Chaplin’s work, The Circus (1928) will enter public domain. A footnote though, the version that falls under public domain (like other movie titles) is the silent version only, not when this was re-released including music composed and added by Chaplin.

Wow, we could talk more about all of this!

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The Magic and Sustainability of the Silver Screen

Photo Courtesy: Emagine Theater (Michigan) https://www.emagine-entertainment.com/

We all can relate to the fact that the pandemic halted or altered our lives for over two years. As we seem to have returned to a new norm of a ‘normal life’, on occasion, certain thoughts attract my attention. This time I was captivated by the thought of returning to the movie theater more often. 

Truth be told, I haven’t stayed away due to fear of COVID, there just hasn’t been an abundant amount of movies I wish to see over the last few years. 

Several months back, I went to our local theater with the family and the theater quickly filled up with eager patrons. This blog really didn’t dawn on me until the opening studio credits appeared on screen and the music began in all of its glory. At that moment, it felt like it had been a hundred years since I last saw movie. I didn’t care what the movie was about to be honest, I just wanted to see something on the big screen. 

What is remarkable is the staying power the cinema has had since the early 20th century. Even in an age of streaming movies at home, there is still something magical about going to the theater. Similar comments like mine have been repeated often, there is nothing unique about it, but when you are facing a massive screen and you are about to watch a movie, you can’t help but think of what has come and gone over many lifetimes – but the enjoyment of heading to a theater to watch a movie hasn’t diminished.

We all know that the streaming business grew exponentially during the pandemic with everyone hunkered in their homes. It certainly made its place these last few years and in many cases – saved families from going cuckoo at home. This industry will never go away and it will be part of our lives moving forward. However, I challenge anyone that is reading this blog to tell me it is the perfect substitute for going to the movie theater. Yes, you are paying for the experience and it’s cheaper to stay at home and watch – but unless you have a mansion and a 100 seat theater with a 100 ft screen – you won’t have the same feeling as to heading to your local theater.

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Building my YouTube channel

Not too long ago, I decided that I wanted to grow my video music YouTube channel. Currently I have over 100 videos that I have posted over the last several years. In the past, I didn’t put much effort into this channel, it was a space where I would “park” performance clips so that when potential event organizers needed video clips (aka demo reel) I could direct them to my channel. However, since the pandemic portion of COVID seems to have ended and an influx of performances, I have noticed many new viewers of my channel. So, I decided to focus on this channel for awhile.

Image from a recent TikTok ad I posted promoting a performance.

The journey has been fun and interesting especially as I found some new methods of promoting and growing the channel.

  • I am on TikTok. Yep, you heard me right. Just one post alone has created over 1200 views in a week. I am no Kardashian, but I am happy with the early results! (The video is above) Also created this one, click here.
  • I have created mini videos and placed them on my musical Facebook and Instagram pages asking folks to help me reach 1,000 subscribers on my YouTube channel.
  • At a recent performance, I gave away musical CDs as an incentive for people to subscriber to my channel. We all like free things and this went over well.

So…if you are a fan of my playing or the music itself and want to help me out..I would love for you to help me reach 1,000 subscribers.

Please subscribe to my channel at https://www.youtube.com/@atopouzian 

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A Cultural Experience Performing at The Hawk

In the last few years, I have tried to avoid writing blog posts about my performances as I am really looking to create content in these postings which may be more thought provoking or promotional of other topics. However, I would like to make an exception for a performance I did a few weeks ago that needs some attention. Not because I performed, but for the work that went behind the scenes to create this event.

(Photo courtesy: City of Farmington Hills) Lobby of The Hawk

The Hawk is a marvelous venue. It is the former Harrison High School that was purchased by the City of Farmington Hills, Michigan a few years ago. The city transformed the school into a multi useful venue (community center) that includes a fitness center, multiple theater opportunities, sports arenas and much more. Through my affiliation with the Michigan Arts and Culture Council, I was even invited to their Makerspace unveiling which is a great opportunity for all ages that wish to make something and provide them the technical resources to do so.

I have had a long and enjoyable affiliation with the City of Farmington Hills, especially their Special Services Department which includes their robust arts and culture efforts. This is a dynamic team led by Rachel Timlin that provides some of the finest events and ideas I have seen in our region. All of her team are rockstars and they know I am major fans of all of them. For this event, I worked with their Program Coordinator Lindsay Janoch.

Our performance at The Hawk

Last year we discussed putting on a small concert highlighting Armenian music at The Hawk. That quickly turned into discussing how we could incorporate Armenian cultural components. However, I really didn’t realize to what extent the city department would go for this event and I was really blown away by the work and effort (and care!) they took in putting this event together.

Here is what Lindsay and her team helped put together for this event:

  • We utilized The Hawk BlackBox which was the schools old band room. A perfect smaller room that was ideal for this entire event.
  • They decorated the stage and room with artifacts and oriental rugs that were provided by sponsor Hagopian Rugs.
  • They had several stations focused on Armenian culture:
    • You could help weave a rug.
    • Children could color in the Armenian flag or the Republic of Armenia emblem.
    • Children could even make a crown or part of an Armenian costume!
    • They had a map of Armenia and individuals could place a pin on the map where they were from along with post a index card about their family history and what brought them to this country.

During the workshop, participants got the ability to play some music with us!

Drums! We had a ton of different percussion instruments for anyone to play. Prior to the concert, we (George Nigosian & Jerry Gerjekian as well) taught a short workshop where we demonstrated and talked about the instruments. I gave the participants an easy rhythm to learn, a 2/4 tempo, and we played a song together. The song was Karoun, Karoun, a song that Armenians identify with but is also performed by other ethnicities. At the end of our performance, we surprised the audience by having the workshop participants grab a percussion instrument and played along with us.

Kudos to Lindsay and the entire team that took great care in creating more than just a musical event, but a cultural experience that continues to make me proud to be an Armenian. In the meantime…check out the Hawk and their other cultural performances, you will be a better person for it. 🙂

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Musicians Reunite, No Missing Beats

This morning I was thinking about a musical gig I did the other night. Luckily now that the pandemic part of COVID seems to be behind us, playing music has picked up once again and we are seeing live music return in full force.

Last night I was reunited with two musical friends that I have had a long association with and have enjoyed immensely playing music with them. Doug Shimmin is a musician that is part of the legendary Detroit band, Immigrant Suns (amongst other great Detroit-based groups) Doug and I connected many years back and at one point, not only were we playing a lot of music together, we formed a group called Eastern Winds and made an album together. Doug played acoustic guitar last night and it was such a delight to be on stage with him again.

His nephew, Michael Shimmin is an extraordinary percussionist. Mike plays in too many groups to mention in this short group – but he is a working musician always on the go! He played with Doug and I on darbuka at this gig. He is flawless drummer  that provides high energy and excitement to his performances.

The three of us performed at TechCity Jam, an event sponsored by Bank of Ann Arbor that consists of musicians that by day, work in the Michigan entrepreneurial ecosystem. Its event that I was introduced to over three years ago and performed it with Doug & Mike. We had fun in 2019 and we had fun in 2022.

Ironically, the last time I performed with Doug & Mike was this exact event – but you wouldn’t have known it. We performed only one set for about twenty minutes, but the music was tight and rocked. I don’t think any of us missed a beat. That was what got me thinking about this gig and the musicians I have had the good fortune to play with over the years. Some you click with and others you do not. There are times you get reunited with musicians and you may wonder “Gee, why did I ever play with that person?!” Well, with Doug & Mike, that isn’t the case. Good job guys, such a fun gig!

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