Helen Ispirian: ‘I feel strong ties to Armenian culture’

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Recently we performed a song by Komitas Alagyaz with OrgaVoce and I also taught a piece to my amateur choirs. Since I don’t speak or read Armenian, it takes more time and concerts with Armenian music, and it also needs context. If I could choose, I would like to sing more Armenian music. Last year I was invited by the Armenian community to sing Krunk by Komitas during the official commemorative celebrations in Berlin.

For Diaspora Armenians, it is unusual to live in Russia – how was this experience?

It was a pleasant moment. I came as a student to Moscow and started my band. Then I decided to stay longer. In Germany, I’m not really considered an Armenian, because German is my mother tongue and people don’t know much about Armenia. In Russia it is and generally Russians would appreciate my dual ethnicity. And it was also nice to meet Germans or Armenians in Russia.

I have the impression that wherever you live, in Germany or in Russia, you are always in contact with Armenian art professionals.

Yes, that’s right — earlier I was lucky enough to have photos of Armenian artist Zara Manucharyan, which we used for our poster to announce upcoming concerts with OrgaVoce.

Last year, you presented your first film “Hear Us Sweet Freedom!” at the KIN International Festival of Female Directors in Yerevan, winning the first prize. I was impressed with the bold experimental approach to the crazy covid moments you have in your genre of anti-utopian musical film.

Thank you very much, it was a big surprise that my film won – it’s such a great honor. In fact, the film is an ensemble work – the right story at the right time with a lot of heart from great international artists, like Timothy Sedgwick (director of photography, Germany), Evangelia Papadopoulos (choreographer, Greece), Karolina Juodelyte ( organist/actress, Lithuania) and many more. Recently, the film premiered in New York at the Socially Relevant Film Festival and can also be viewed online for a limited time.

In March, you were part of the OrgaVoce concerts, dedicated to all the Ukrainian, Armenian, Russian mothers and all the other mothers in this world who are suffering incredibly. I’m sure it’s thanks to you that Armenian mothers are also remembered. As we see, the civilized world hardly cared about the war in Artsakh, unlike the one in Ukraine.

Yes, it’s true. As I do most of the organization and PR for OrgaVoce, I posted the dedication as you mentioned. We perform Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater. And it seemed like a fitting occasion to remember apart from the holy mother of all mothers who suffer horribly. Of course, Armenians or those related to this people again suffer from ignorance of the world. The incredible attention and solidarity that the world gives exclusively to Ukraine is intensifying the feeling of Armenians that they are left alone and forgotten in their fight against David against Goliath. Where was the world in 2020 and why doesn’t it even now pay attention to the aggression of Aliyev and Erdogan – why they don’t care about Armenians? I guess it’s not just because Ukraine is bigger, but because it’s much closer to Germany than Armenia, and this war has huge effects on our personal lives. But the main reasons are the media and politics. After two years of permanent covid information, we now have 24 hour reports on the war in Ukraine. It is much more comfortable to paint in black and white. As for Armenia, people don’t know much and unfortunately it has no geopolitical significance for Europe…

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