From The Bambir to Vishup
The musical life and journey of Arik Grigoryan
January 28, 2018 | by Creative Armenia
Creative Armenia - AGBU Fellow Arik Grigoryan started his career at a very young age, storming stages in Armenia and abroad. Now, having founded three bands — and established himself as a musician, teacher, and choir conductor — he aspires to new innovations in Armenian music.
CA: You started your music career at a very young age. How did that come about?
AG: My musical career started when I was 8 years old and I met Narek and Arman. We created what is now considered the second generation of The Bambir band. We started to practice together, create songs, perform concerts in and out of Armenia. Our first concert out of Armenia was in New York City, in 1999.
CA: What have you learned from teaching music, in addition to creating it?
AG: The most important thing I learned is the ability to share my knowledge and experience with people who need it. That is a kind of energy which you give and receive. You learn to be more responsible and disciplined, which is really important in every kind of work.
CA: Vishup Ensemble, which you founded, explores and performs old Armenian folk songs. Can you tell us about how you discover and reanimate these songs?
AG: It is very similar to the work of archeologists, who explore and discover old things. In my case, the materials have already been discovered and published by folklorists, but are neglected. So they need to be rediscovered — and more importantly, recreated — in order to come back to life.
CA: When reviving medieval spiritual and folk songs, how do you create balance between retaining the original and adding new layers?
AG: Everything depends on how deep you go and how much you understand about the piece. For example, while choosing a medieval song, you should know about life of the time period and the location of its origin, what people were doing, how they related to people in neighbouring countries, the overall aura. Every historical detail helps. Add your own ideas and feelings — that are the fruit of our own time — and it results in a balanced mix of old and new.
CA: You have founded or co-founded three musical bands. Do they derive from each other or they are separate projects for you?
AG: They are all totally different bands for me, because each of them has its style, philosophy, practice, and sound. The Bambir, for which I play flute and write songs, is like a family to me. TmbaTa, which was created at Tumo Center for Creative Technologies for educational purpose, is more experimental because there I work with young students and together we learn about Armenian music and its uniqueness. Through teaching I learn and discover a lot. The third one is Vishup, which is more of a research project about exploring folk and spiritual music and performing it with different musicians.
CA: What other nations’ folk music inspires you?
AG: Too many to count but I’ve been especially inspired by Scandinavian, Persian, African, and Eastern music.
CA: What is your long-term vision for your creative career?
AG: This kind of work is scientific for me. It can be discovered endlessly.
CA: Who or what is your creative inspiration?
AG: The working process itself inspires me most. Our rich heritage, materials, nature, uniqueness, and history. People who I work with or learn from — all of these inspires and influences me.
CA: What kind of art do you enjoy beyond music?
AG: I love painting. I studied at an art school for a long time. I’m enamored with color and form. My painter friends really inspire me.
Also literature, poetry, theatre. I always think that music and theatre are good workmates. One day I will create a modern musical performing theatre of old times.