By Taleen Babayan
TORONTO — Ten bold, black letters of the Armenian alphabet are etched across Razmik Tchakmakian’s left upper arm, the letters comprising a powerful word that has been central to the plight of Armenians and significant to our endurance as a people. Veradznoont: rebirth. Above it rests a symbol of Armenian survival, Tsitsernakaberd, the Armenian Genocide Memorial, with a flame emerging from the steel slabs.
Though born thousands of miles away from the monument and his homeland, Tchakmakian and his two childhood friends, Sevag Titizian and Sevag Haroutunian’s submerged patriotism is not only skin-deep, but entrenched in their hearts. So much so that these former Armenian school classmates decided to parlay their individual passion for music and become part of an Armenian band to continue the musical traditions of our culturally rich past.
Pyunik, which means “phoenix” in Armenian, pays homage to the lineage of talented Armenian musicians and singers who have helped sustain the unique melodies and compositions of Armenian musical traditions.
“It was kind of like a young band rising out of the ashes of those artists before us,” said Tchakmakian.
Playing everything from covers of Harout Pamboukjian’s patriotic tunes to Tata’s crowd pleasers, Pyunik seeks to entertain and enliven the spirit of Armenian “kef,” no matter what the occasion.