Program “Kamurj” (Bridge) with Karen Israyelyan


Editor of the program “Bridge”–Arpine Alaverdyan: Today the pavilion of the program “Bridge” has hosted Karen Israyelyan, a musician, who has recently participated in the festival “We Sing Komitas”. Karen lives and creates in Japan, a territory, where it seems Armenians have less trod since the old and ancient times. Before proceeding to the details of the festival, please tell as how it happened that you appeared in Japan and now you present yourself, as a musician, who has come from Japan.
Karen Israyelyan: Two factors have been combined in the result of which I appeared in Japan: the first factor is my profession, I am a musician and I received an invitation. For a long time I have taken interest in the Japanese arts, culture and psychology. And the second factor is my family, I have decided to connect my life with the representative of that nation.
Arpine Alaverdyan:Karen, you said that you loved the Japanese art, music and culture and have studied them. What have you found in common between the Armenian and the Japanese cultures?
Karen Israyelyan: The greatest generality of the Armenian and the Japanese cultures is their antiquity, which comes from millennia and this is the first generality that exists between the Armenian and the Japanese cultures, though the cultural philosophy of our two nations is different.
Arpine Alaverdyan. Karen, you took part in the festival also together with the Japanese representative.
Karen Israyelyan. Yes, my particiapation in the given festival has already become traditional. The festival organized by the Ministry of Diaspora of RA, is organized once in two years and is dedicated to Komitas. Two years ago, I participated with another participant–a Japanese. This year also I have participated with the Japanese, with harpist Urara Inoue.
Arpine Alaverdyan: Actually, we can say that in some sense you spread and propogate the Armenian music and culture in Japan.
Karen Israyelyan: Well, if I belittle myself I should say it is not the case, but if not, that’s true.
Arpine Alaverdyan: Karen, please tell us, is there an Armenian community in Japan and what is the number of Armenians in Japan?
Karen Israyelyan:As a community, the way we imagine the community to be, a classical community with churches, schools and many Armenians, of course, there is not such a community. It is not the country where many Armenians live. All of them are in Japan either by business or conditioned by family circumstances, that is they are married with the Japanese. Generally, the total number of Armenians in Japan makes 40 people. A great role has played the Embassy of Armenia in Japan, which was opened 4 years ago. It has become a place in Tokyo, in the center of Tokyo, where the Armenians always gather with great pleasure; we can say it is an Armenian home there. And of course a great role plays our ambassador.
Arpine Alaverdyan: Referring to your business success, what have you recorded during the past 7 years, while being away from your motherland.
Karen Israyelyan: It has been 7 years that I am in Japan, but unfortunately I have been abroad for much longer period. After graduating I studied in Europe, I worked in Spain for some time and then I moved to Japan. This is the life of a musician. I can compare the life of a musician only with the life of a diplomat: we don’t know borders and we don’t have a residence. The musician should always be open to accept the other’s culture; he should also be able to show his native culture and arts to the others.
Arpine Alaverdyan: Karen, within acceptable terms, if we look at the attitude of the Japanese towards the Armenian culture, what author and what music do they prefer more?
Karen Israyelyan:Generally, the Japanese are open to accept others’ culture. As I said, having a rich cultural heritage, they listen to and accept others with great pleasure. And of course, like the rest of the world, for them musical Armenia is our great composer Aram Khachatryan. All of them know Aram Khachatryan, because Aram Khachatryan is Aram Khachatryan.
I have decided during each of my solo concerts to perform works of Armenian compsers, especially the works of Komitas.
Arpine Alaverdyan: Karen, do you often have a chance to have solo concerts in a foreign country?
Karen Israyelyan:If you are talking about Japan, I am not counting the number of concerts, because I already cannot count them, but until the June of the next year my whole agenda is already full. You know, when they know that I am an Armenian, they want to hear the work of Armenian composers, because the Armenian music is not frequently performed in Japan.
Arpine Alaverdyan: Karen, again referring to the community life, you mentioned that the Armenian community in Japan is rather a young one.
Karen IsrayelyanYes.
Arpine Alaverdyan:Certainly there are children too. Here we have a language problem; in fact, there is no school.
Karen Israyelyan:Yes, yes. I have the same problem. I have a four-year-old son and we must already start to study the Armenian language deeper. Unfortunately, the problem is very up-to-date in Japan. Something must be done, that in such countries, where there are no churches, no schools adjacent to those churches, where the teaching of the Armenian language for our children can be organized.
Arpine Alaverdyan: Relations become closer, when there are diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Karen Israyelyan: Of course.
Arpine Alaverdyan:  That’s what you have stated, Karen. Your visit had another goal. Let’s speak about it.
Karen Israyelyan:Yes, except the festival, here we participated in another concert, which was dedicated to the opening of the Embassy of Japan in Armenia. We were pleased to learn that this year finally the Embassy of Japan has been opened in Armenia and we decided that as we come to Armenia to participate in the festival, with the help of the Japanese “Hikari” cultural center functioning in Armenia we organized another concert. The concert took place in the newly opened Komitas Museum-Institute and it gave a chance to present to the Armenian listener the Japanese culture, the Japanese music.
Arpine Alaverdyan: Let’s hope that the diplomatic relations between the two countries will contribute to the opening of some training center for the children of Armenians in Japan or the organization of some courses.
Karen Israyelyan: Yes, yes, because in my opinion, as the two countries begin their diplomatic relations newly and we can say that the biggest and the shortest way to those diplomatic realations is through culture. And the more are the cultural relations between our two countries, the easier it will be to develop both economical and other issues.
Arpine Alaverdyan: Let’s remind that today the pavilion of the program “Bridge” hosted the laureate of international contests Karen Israyelyan, who has recently participated in the festival “We Sing Komitas”, which was organized by the Ministry of Diaspora. We spoke about the life of the Armenian community in Japan, as well as about Karen’s individual success and generally, about the way, which is characteristic for an artist and which Karen is walking today far from the motherland Armenia.

the material is taken from

translated from Armenian into English by M.Vardanyan