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source of a sound connecting worlds
Classifying "Armenian Spirit" musically is a challenge, one would almost have to invent a category of its own to be able to aptly characterize this ensemble. Ethno-Jazz? World Music? Multi-cultural band? Possible paraphrases, which, however, would shorten the multi-faceted sound of the "Armenian Spirit". The point of departure is the soul of Armenian music, which for the mastermind of the ensemble, Karen Asatrian, is a never-ending source of surprising inspirations.
He is Armenian, but now lives in Austria. The singer, Rita Movsesian, has also Armenian roots as well as Juan Carlos Sungurlian, the Oud and Bouzouki player. Lastly, in such an ensemble the woodwind instrument Duduk, which is typical for Armenia, should not be missed. It is played by Emmanuel Hovhannissyan, who is apparently following the footsteps of Djivan Gasparyan, the famous Armenian Duduk-doyen. He is the only member of the ensemble who lives in Armenia, in the capital Yerevan.
They all have Armenian roots, yet have found their own ways (see profession profiles) of expression in dealing with the most diverse cultures. That's what makes this specific Spirit special: to be open to suggestions from other cultures and styles, to be inspired by them and to interpret your own musical tradition that has shaped you in a new and contemporary way. Especially in the context of the history of Armenia, which has driven many into the diaspora, this has an identity-building effect without excluding others. It goes without saying that this ensemble also includes non-Armenians like saxophonist Wolfgang Puschnig, bassist Ante Jurinovic and drummer Reinhardt Winkler. Thus, "Armenian Spirit" brings together people who share their enthusiasm for openness, transculturality and love of music.
They came together for the first time in 2003. Each and every one of the group can look back on their own musical careers and experiences inside and outside Armenia, which they bring into the ensemble, contributing to the specific sound of the ARMENIAN SPIRIT. It is fed by classical elements, often taking over the rhythm of jazz and is devoted to topics from the Armenian musical tradition, a.o. Folk songs, such as those collected by the famous Komitas. This leads to powerful yet tender explorations in faraway and nearby musical worlds, supported by melancholic and at the same time exciting harmonies, and conducted by the composer, pianist and singer Karen Asatrian, from whose "Feather" arise these cross-cultural masterpieces.
Karen Asatrian (Armenia/Austria)
The composer, jazz pianist and leader of the ensemble ARMENIAN SPIRIT Karen Asatrian was born in 1972 in Yerevan, Armenia. After graduating from the State Conservatory of Komitas in Yerevan, he left Armenia in 1995 to Klagenfurt in Carinthia/Austria and graduated there with honors in jazz-piano in 1999. His career till now was accompanied by various significant highlights. One of them was 2007, when he recieved the Armenian Music Award in the category of Best Jazz Album for his CD “Pathway”. From his creations to date, is in particular the PRAYER WHEEL, which was composed by him on the occasion of the centenary of the genocide against the Armenians, which was performed at the 2016 Salzburg Festival. In addition to his artistic activities and performances, Karen Asatrian is now a respected Jazz-Piano-Professor at the Gustav-Mahler-University at Klagenfurt/Carinthia as well as at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna. For further Information and discography please visit: www.asatrian.net
Rita Movsesian - vocals (Armenia/Iraq/Austria)
Rita committed herself to Armenian and Arabic music in Baghdad/Iraq, where she was born and raised. After her move to Austria music still remained the focus of the Armenian ex-patriot´s life. There she received intensive vocal training from a wide variety of renowned coaches and enriched her vocal-technique at the Salzburg Mozarteum in the fields of classical music and jazz. There followed a great number of stage appearances both in Austria and abroad, before Rita Movsesian struck upon several multifaceted projects and international collaborations. Rita uses music as an intercultural link in today's world and places her emphasis on the musical traditions of Armenia, as she descends from an Armenian family that left their ancestral homeland in Turkey due to the historical events in 1915 and consequently settled in Iraq. Her voice reflects the multifaceted soul of Iraq as well as the passionate spirit of Armenia.
Ante Jurinović - bass (Croatia/Austria)
Studied acoustic and electric bass at Klagenfurt conservatory. Performances with Joe Zawinul caused more publicity and where followed by several musical projects and jazz-recordings around Europe with prominent musicians like Tamara Obrovac, Oliver Dragojevic, Matija Dedic, Gail Anderson band, Wolfgang Puschnig, Galeria band, Waveform band, Jean Nolan, Karen Asatrian and Hamlet Fiorilli and his Latin Jazz Experience. Master degree in e-Bass.
Wolfgang Puschnig - sax (Austria)
One of the most prominent representatives of Austrian jazz music after Joe Zawinul. A multi-instrumentalist, perfectly familiar with flute and piccolo flute, alto and soprano saxophones, alto and bass clarinets, exotic shakuhachi and hojok. Active in wide range of traditional and classical to ethnic and avant-garde music. Elegiac intonations, melodious vocal expression of lines and astounding virtuosity distinguish Puschnig and contribute to his personal style.
Emmanuel Hovhannisyan - duduk & zurna (Yerevan, Armenia)
One of the most famous duduk players in Armenia and well on the way to replace the old famous Armenian Duduk-doyen Djivan Gasparyan. Education at the H. Danielyan Art School and the state Komitas Conservatory in Yerevan. Award winner at the Vienna Brass and Woodwind Music Instruments Festival (2002), the Edison Award Jazz / World, Netherlands (2012) and the Armenian National Music Award (2012). Greatly varied band engagements internationally and participations in several theatre and film productions.
Juan Carlos Sungurlian - oud & bouzouki (Uruguay/Austria)
Studied at the conservatories of Montevideo (Uruguay) and Yerevan (Armenia) and at the Music Academy Graz. Masterclasses in Fes (Morocco), Istanbul (Turkey) and Seville (Spain). International concerts in various formations and as a soloist. His own multicultural background (Spanish, Armenian, Greek, German, Portuguese, French) is probably the reason for his passionate interest in many different cultures and music traditions.
Reinhardt Winkler - drums & percussion (Austria/England)
Tours in Europe, USA and Asia. Cooperation with STS (Austro-Pop), Terry Myers, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, to name just a few of his collaborations with Star-Musicians on international basis. Since 1993 counts as one of the most demanded drum-teachers in Austria.