“This may be Air France, but…”
“… but it feels like Aeroflot”, CP muttered to me on board our flight from Paris to Yerevan, Armenia. The staff had an unnerving way of making announcements in French and then English, both of which were fairly indecipherable, as well as somewhat nonsensical.
“For reasons of safety, please ensure your seatbelt is unfastened for the duration of the flight,” we were told in dulcet tones as the plane eased its way up the runway.
“We are looking after your safety and comfort… [pause] … and your flight to Yerevan”, they informed us reassuringly. Good that the latter was part of the deal, we thought.
And as the seatbelt light was switched off upon arrival in Yerevan, and everyone bounded out of their seats to retrieve luggage from the lockers, we were asked to remain seated ‘until all passengers had left the plane’. No-one was paying any attention by that stage.
There were some equally baffling moments of bureaucracy at Yerevan’s airport where we had to fill out a visa application form. At the bottom of the page was a multiple choice section, where we had to (presumably) nominate the most appropriate response. The choices were:
- The purpose of apple (to make)
- To provide entry visa
- To expansion of
I kid you not. We both left that section blank. Still puzzling over it yesterday, we employed our best lateral thinking, and decided that ‘apple’ really meant ‘apply’, and ‘expansion of’ was for a visa extension. We felt tremendously pleased with ourselves to have figured this out!
So here we are in Yerevan. Dear friends abound. Anna is a captivating, charming singer, well-known in Armenia for her performances of tradional and sacred music. She is often on television, performing, or commenting on local arts issues. She has organised our concert in The Club, and throughout yesterday afternoon was fielding phone calls from television producers interested in interviewing us on the local version of ‘Sunrise’ with Mel and Kochie. CP and I are secretly quite excited about this possibility and hope to be able to take home DVD footage of our Armenian television debuts. Margarit is a pianist of phenomenal ability and musicianship, eccentric in many ways but with the warmest smile in the world.
Anna and CP enjoying a cognac in the The Club, first day there…
Yerevan is, like Paris, experiencing a mild winter so far. It is fairly grey and overcast here, but also quite foggy. Or is it smoggy? It is hard to tell. Around midday, when the sun is highest in the sky, we can sea the tips of the mountains that ring the city, that are snow-topped and imposing. At other times of the day, we can barely see the tops of the tallest buildings.
The architecture seems to be largely Stalinist, or modern with neo-traditional overtones. There is a phenomenal amount of construction taking place. I can imagine that in warmer months, the wide streets are filled with cafes, there would be an abundance of green in the various city squares and boulevards, and the grace and charm of the city would shine through. In winter, it is less immediately attractive, but there is a kind of dilapidated grandeur in the buildings that I like.
We have seen the posters for our concert. Yesterday we had lunch at the venue and Anna talked with the staff about projecting images from our concerts ten years ago behind us while we are performing. I think it could be very effective. My nearly-finished arrangement of Piazzolla’s Oblivion has worked pretty well, but most of all, it will be lovely to play our old repertoire – Khatchturian, Spohr, Komitas – together once again.
Here is the poster for our concert outside the front of the Opera House:
CP in the snow at Kaputan: