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2017 AYF Olympics: The Bands

2017 Armenian Youth Federation Senior Olympic Games, Hosted by the AYF-YOARF Racine “Armen Garo” Chapter, to Take Place in Downtown Milwaukee

The supreme aim (mission) of the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) is to aid the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) in the establishment of a united, free, and independent Armenia on the historical territories of the Armenian homeland.  The AYF could not accomplish their mission without financial support and the AYF Olympics provides 40% of that support through the souvenir ad book and the weekend dances.  And you can’t have dances without the bands!

This year’s Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) Olympic Games are here in Downtown Milwaukee and hosted once again by the AYF-YOARF Racine “Armen Garo” chapter, Aug. 31-Sept 4.

The weekend dances kick off Friday evening at 8 p.m. with the joint Alumni Reception and AYF Dance featuring Chicago’s own Hye Vibes. The Hye Vibes were founded in 2004 by original members John Paklaian on dumbeg and vocals and AYF Boston “Siamanto” alum John Harotian on clarinet.  Harotian named the band to reflect both the heritage and cool style of play of this group. AYF Detroit “Kopernik Tandourjian” alum Mark Gavoor on oud and vocals and Kraig Kuchukian on keyboards make up the rest of the band. The Hye Vibes perform mostly in the Chicago area and Southeastern Wisconsin. The Hye Vibes will be joined for this evening by Stepan Fronjian on kanun and vocals. Fronjian is a pillar in the St. Hagop Armenian Church community in Racine and an accomplished musician on a variety of instruments.  Fronjian was a member of the famous Five Fingers Band that played Armenian, continental, and rock music in Beirut during the 1970s.

Following in the footsteps of former AYF bands such as Masis, Michael Gostanian, and Aravod Ensembles is the reigning AYF band, Yerakouyn, who take over from the Hye Vibes at 12 midnight.  Brothers Shant and Raffi Massoyan from New Jersey have been friends with Raffi Rachdouni from Providence going back to their days as campers at Camp Haiastan.  However, it was not until the 2010 AYF Senior Seminar that the brothers realized that Raffi Rachdouni was also a musician and using a dumbeg, mini electric guitar, and keyboard, they had their first jam session.  The magic was immediate!  The trio combines ancient, authentic Armenian instruments with beloved songs and modern technologies to help broadcast sounds that might otherwise be forgotten.  Yerakouyn has played in Rhode Island, Detroit, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York, and Canada, and they are thrilled to play in Wisconsin for the first time.

The Saturday Night Spectacular starts at 9 p.m. featuring the amazing Kevork Artinian and Friends.  Anyone who was in New Jersey at last year’s AYF Olympics knows how spectacular Kevork Artinian and Friends are, as they blew the roof off the ballroom Saturday night and came back late Sunday night for an encore.  Although he has been singing for 15+ years throughout North America, including the ACAA Heritage Cruise, and the world, Kevork Artinian has become spectacular on the Saturday night of the AYF OIympics.  Originally from Lebanon and growing up in Montreal, love brought Kevork to Philadelphia to get married and, as fate would have it, meet drummer Jim Kzirian.  Kevork continues to work with one of the most amazing keyboardists, maestro George Tebrejian.  The three were later joined by Yerakouyn member Raffi Massoyan on saz and percussion and the legendary Steve Vosbikian on clarinet to create the unique ensemble that amazes audiences wherever they go.

The Saturday Night Spectacular continues after 2 a.m. with local DJ Angel Eyes.  Nationally and Internationally known for helping to coordinate the unofficial House Music meet up spot at the annual Winter Music Conference in Miami, DJ Angel Eyes’ niche is the Deep/Tech/Vocal side of House Music.  Her goal as a DJ is to play sets no matter what genre and she loves throwing down some DNB.  On this spectacular night, DJ Angel Eyes will mix in current radio hits to her House style.

The Sunday Night Grand Ball starts at 9 p.m. and featuring a new set of All Stars from Philadelphia led by vocalist Michael Gostanian.  Michael Gostanian and the Philadelphia All Stars includes some of this generation’s greatest musicians, coming together from various groups that have been entertaining audiences for 20+ years.  The band features…

…Michael Gostanian on vocals from New York

…Aram Hovagimian on keyboard and Jim Kzirian on dumbeg from Philadelphia’s Aravod Ensemble and Artzakh Band

…Antranig Kzirian on oud from the Aravod Ensemble and the Los Angeles rock band Viza

…David Hoplamazian on violin from the Michael Gostanian Ensemble and Philly Kef Band

…Christopher Vosbikian on dumbeg also from the Michael Gostanian Ensemble and third generation musician from The Fabulous Vosbikian Band

… Steve Vosbikian, Jr on clarinet from the Artzakh Band and also third generation musician from The Fabulous Vosbikian Band.

The Sunday Night Grand Ball continues after 2 a.m. with the return of DJ Angel Eyes.  On this final night, DJ Angel Eyes will debut mixing Armenian music into her House style for a once in a lifetime music experience.

The Sunday Night Grand Ball will be a special night of premiere performances and a night that you will not want to miss!

For more information, stay tuned to this column or go to www.ayfolympics.org, https://www.facebook.com/AYFOlympics/ or https://twitter.com/ayfolympics.

 

“Oor eh? Hos eh!”

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