Monday, August 31, 2015

Poetry Scores to premiere "Grandchilden of Genocide" Nov. 21 at Tap Room

Photo borrowed from Fedgeno.

Poetry Scores will premiere a new work "Grandchildren of Genocide" at The Schlafly Tap Room at 10 p.m. on Saturday, November 21. Old Time favorites Dugout Canoe will open at 9 p.m., and indie rockers Accelerando will close at 11 p.m. It is a free show.

"Grandchildren of Genocide" is a new score of modern poetry from Armenia co-produced by Robert Goetz and Chris King to coincide with the centennial of the 1915 onset of the genocide of the Armenians by the Ottoman Empire.

Composers of the scores include Nick Barbieri, Steve Carosello, Marc Chechik, Robert Goetz, Chris King, David Melson, Ann Hirschfeld, Tony Pupillo, Sherman S Sherman and Mark Stephens. The composers will perform the scores live with a little help from their friends.

Poets scored include Christopher Atamian, Peter Balakian, Gregory Djanikian, Adrian Oproiu, Marine Petrossian (self-translated from the Armenian) and Alan Semerdjian. The poets have all endorsed the project, including co-publication of the resulting songs through Hollywood Recording Studio.

Robert Goetz brought the project to Poetry Scores in an effort to honor a dear Armenian friend, the artist Gina Alvarez, born Gina Korakian. It so happens Chris King, Poetry Scores co-founder, had a best friend from high school, Monica Fanning, who was part of a large Armenian family in Granite City, the Takmajians. You could say the producers' hearts are in this project.

Robert started learning about Armenia out of love for an Armenian, but he came to focus on the genocide by reading "Black Dog of Fate: A Memoir" by Peter Balakian -- remarkably, one of the poets who ended up graciously contributing work for the project when Chris pitched him blindly.

Peter Balakian then suggested we invite the poet Gregory Djanikian and shared his contact information. On that sparkling recommendation Gregory sent us an entire book of his poetry on the genocide, "So I Will Till the Ground," with permission to score any or all of it.

Poetry Scores owes a special thanks to another one of the contributing poets, Christopher Atamian of New York. Contacted out of the blue on the recommendation of a mutual friend, the translator Susan Bernofsky, Christopher contributed poems by himself and his friend Alan Semerdjian (who is also a songwriter). Alan's poem "Grandchildren of Genocide" provided the evocative title for the Poetry Scores project.

Susan Bernofsky also put the producers on the trail that led to the other two participating poets, Marine Petrossian and Adrian Oproiu, who had work in "Trafika Europe 4: Armenian Rhapsody," an online publication that Susan suggested as a resource. Poetry Scores now plans a separate project devoted entirely to the work of Marine Petrossian.

As for Adrian Oproiu -- another musician -- he is the one featured poet not of Armenian descent. He is a Romanian who lives in Croatia. But Adrian liked the idea of the project and agreed with the producers that his poem "Woodcocks," which appeared in "Armenian Rhapsody," also belongs in "Grandchildren of Genocide."

The producers would like to note that not all of the Armenian poetry we are scoring is about the genocide. Not all of it is especially depressing. And the composers have not been directed to brood upon the tragedy, but rather to write the best songs in their own voices to the poems that speak to them. Obviously, the Armenian people survived, despite their terrible losses. It is their survival that we celebrate in song.

The Schlafly Tap Room (2100 Locust St. in St. Louis) makes tasty beers in many varieties, stocks a full bar, and serves delicious tavern (and beyond) food. Chef Andy is mulling over adding an Armenian lunch special the week of our show. Recipes welcome!

Poetry Scores is an international arts collective based in St. Louis, Missouri, that translates the poetry of the world into other media, including music, visual art, cinema, spirits, food, games and happenings.

The Poetry Scores blog will be updated with demos and finished scores as they emerge from the poems.

Borrowed from "Armenian Flag," Armenian genocide on Twitter
The other bands

Dugout Canoe rocking a square dance.

Accelerando live at Lemmons.

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