Armenian President and d&b attend the Republic Day concert.

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While some nations still struggle to throw off the legacy of the Iron Curtain, others like Armenia are only too happy to celebrate the rebirth of independent nationhood. The celebrations this year were especially poignant; rather than rubbing their former masters noses in the ordure, Armenia chose instead to promote its own rich cultural heritage, contemporary and traditional. The Day of the Republic concert, arranged by Hayasa Productions, was attended by the country’s President (Serzh Sargsyan), featured the Kohar orchestra, a choir of over one hundred voices with thirteen soloists and many of Armenia’s leading popular artists from the world of light entertainment. To cap it all the orchestra also included several traditional Armenian instrumentalists, not least the Duduk, a flute like instrument made from apricot wood with an extremely large double reed duck bill assembly from where the instrument gets its name, as well as the Dehol, Kobal and the venerable Kanoun, a folkish Zither from the mountain people of the Lesser Caucasus.

Although Armenia is a relatively small nation and is only now beginning to establish something of a revivalist financial system, it is blessed with a highly talented and economically prosperous diaspora; among them a discrete gentleman from the Lebanon who funded the entire event and contracted Hayasa to produce it. They in turn, appointed Ralph Kessler from Pinguin as Technical Director. Production resources were brought in from all over Europe, including a comprehensive d&b audiotechnik J-Series system from Germany. “The sort of technical resources we take for granted aren’t yet readily available in the capital Yerevan,” explained Wolfram Kolb from Neumann & Mueller who provided all PA and monitoring audio services. “When we were first approached by Hayasa Productions from Lebanon we did consider sub hiring a system from Turkey and talked to Display Sound and Light System, the d&b Distributor in Istanbul, but none was available. Instead we shipped in a complete J based system with Q-Series elements for fill duty and delay, with Q and B2-SUBs from our Munich office.”

A week was spent on site rehearsing the show, “Hayasa proved to be a very professional operation,” said Kolb. “They shipped in lighting services direct from the Lebanon, and a full video package including OB van and a twenty two camera PPU from the UK.” Recorded for DVD release and broadcast live, the audio side presented its own unique issues, “Fortunately FOH engineer Khalil Chahine was familiar with the more exotic instruments so microphone selection and placement was solved quickly and easily. Staged in front of the National Assembly building the outdoor environment was largely benign, though we did need to take special care to keep sound reinforcement energy off the buildings to the far side of the square.”

The equipment is now back in Germany, but it seems the relationship forged between Hayasa and Neumann & Mueller is only just beginning. “It’s always the case,” concluded Kolb, “If you work on a well produced event and enjoy working alongside fellow professionals, then inevitably that experience is repeated when the opportunity arises.”

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