WASHINGTON, D.C. – The 2018 Smithsonian Folklife Festival featuring Armenia: Creating Home opened yesterday with a reception for an audience of international guests and dignitaries. The Festival showcases Armenia’s culture, music, art, food and wine. Last night’s opening reception was sponsored by the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) and the Armenia Tree Project (ATP). Guests from across the globe gathered at the National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Smithsonian Folklife Festival Director Sabrina Lynn Motley and Assembly President Carolyn Mugar acknowledged guests and welcomed them to the opening reception. Mugar thanked the Smithsonian for this monumental Festival, highlighted the accomplishments of Armenia, and welcomed The Honorable Dr. Armen Sarkissian for his first official visit to the United States of America as President of the Republic of Armenia.
“Armenia is celebrating a milestone this year: 100 Years since a modern nation was formed and a quarter century of democracy and independence as a young nation,” Mugar said. “As we celebrate ‘Armenia: Creating Home,’ we celebrate Armenia’s music, art, food, wine and culture through the centuries. We are actually celebrating Armenia’s people, spirit, and genuine hospitality at home. In the life of the new nation, this is an exciting and important time for America and Americans to engage with Armenia and Armenians. I believe in direct tangible investment in Armenia, actually putting a shovel in the good earth. I believe in Armenia’s people, their many talents, their need to grow fruit and to make wine, and to promote a healthy environment abundant in trees and clean water. Please join me in this unique time to engage with Armenia’s most valuable resources, its hospitality, its home and its people,” she concluded.
President Sarkissian addressed the crowd, thanking everyone for a successful Folklife Festival and their devotion to “creating home” – the theme of the Festival. He spoke about the Armenian Diaspora in the United States, dating back to Martin the Armenian who settled in Jamestown, Virginia 400 years ago, and how the survivors of the Armenian Genocide created a home in America and are today proud U.S. citizens. President Sarkissian was given a standing ovation for his remarks.
Guests in attendance included U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Richard Mills, Jr., former U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Heffern U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission Director to Armenia Deborah Grieser, Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues Co-Chair Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA), Armenian Minister of Culture Lilit Makunts, and Armenian Ambassador to the U.S. Grigor Hovhannissian, among others.
The crowd enjoyed a special performance by Miqayel Voskanyan & Friends, which is an ethno-jazz and folk band based in Yerevan, Armenia. The band was formed in 2011 with the goal of introducing jazz to the tar, immediately standing out as a fresh, modern sound in world music. Although historically heard in traditional Armenian folk music, Voskanyan’s band has given the tar a new identity and, as a result, has created a new genre of music that fuses old and new to produce something wholly unique – an alluring concoction of jazz, folk and rock, all inspired by classical Armenian melodies!
In addition to the Armenian culture features at this year’s Folklife Festival, Catalonia: Tradition and Creativity from the Mediterranean is also being showcased.
The Festival runs from June 27 to July 1 and then from July 4 to July 8. More than 1 million people are expected to visit the exhibition and festival, and more than 8 million people worldwide to access the Smithsonian Folklife’s website and learn about Armenia.
For more information about the schedule of events, click here.