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Arthur (Artashes) Meschian (Armenian: Արթուր Մեսչյան, born March 3, 1949, Yerevan, Armenia) is an Armenian architect, musician, composer, poet, singer and painter. He is also known as one of the founders of Armenian rock. He was the founder and the lead singer of Apostles (1968 – 1979), the first rock band performing songs in their native language in the history of the Soviet Union.
Since childhood, Meschian has been interested in music and arts; singing songs in languages ranging from Hungarian to English. At the age of seven, he started taking violin and piano lessons at the A. Spendiaryan School of Music. It was during those years that he made his first steps in writing songs and joined the boy's chorus at the National Academic Theater for Opera and Ballet. In 1973, he briefly joined the chorus of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. Even though his stay there was short (less than a year), it had a profound influence on his subsequent musical creations. While still at school, Meschian wrote some of his early pieces including “Where were you, God?”, “The Will,” and “The Old Man.” In 1965, he first performed his acclaimed and widely controversial song “Where were you, God?” at the secondary school where he was a student at the time. In 1966, he was accepted to the department of architecture at the National Polytechnic University of Armenia.
In 1967, Meschian, along with his friends Levon Melikian and Gregory Nalbandian, founded a rock band which they initially did not name. The band was simply referred to as “The Band of the Department of Architecture.” After giving a series of concerts throughout 1967 and on, the band gained an immense deal of acclaim among the Armenian youth. By blending Armenian spiritual music with the thriving rock of the time, the band left a remarkable impression on its listeners and became a true revelation. As a result, the activists at the party Central Committee raised concerns about the band's prolific endeavors. The committee led an anti-Meschian campaign accusing him of anti-Soviet propaganda and calling the band members “Newly Ordained Apostles.” It was in large part due to that designation that the band was later named “The Apostles.” The remarkable success of the Apostles was not hindered by the anti-Meschian Communist efforts. In the early 1970s, Meschian composed the first Armenian rock opera, “The Insane Asylum” which vastly contributed to the band's popularity. Thereafter, the band started giving concerts in numerous universities and cities such as Gyumri, Moscow, Yerevan and Tallinn. In 1971, Meschian performed at the USSR festival for young musicians in Poland, where the band was only allowed to participate under the guidance of the Communist Committee Activists. Despite the fact that the Apostles found themselves performing in various republics throughout the Soviet Union, they always remained steadfast in performing in their native Armenian language.
In 1972, Meschian successfully graduated from university, but due to the anti-Meschian attitudes in the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic, it took him two years to find a job as an architect. In 1974, Meschian was employed by the Armenian Governmental Project where he participated in the development of Zvartnots Airport in Yerevan. In 1973, he briefly joined the chorus of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, where he made the acquaintance of Vazgen I, the Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church who commissioned him to write a requiem dedicated to the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide. With Moushegh Ishkhan’s permission, Meschian used some of his verses in writing the requiem. In 1975, Meschian performed his requiem at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, and with the support of the Catholicos, he later recorded this piece.
In the beginning of the next decade, the Apostles unexpectedly disappeared from the musical world. At the time of its existence, the band featured various musicians such as Ashot Adamyan, Gevorg Mangasaryan, Viguen Stepanyan, Gevorg Jangulyan, Movses Muradyan, Ashot Eghikyan, Stanislav Buniatyan, Rostom Ohanyan and Ashot Eghikyan. In 1984, Meschian started his own musical path with his students, Vahan Artsruni and Gourgen Melikyan. In the 1980s, he also performed leading roles in two motion pictures. He became a part of the film "The Glowing Fire of the Night", playing the role of Michael Nalbandian, which allowed him to include his own music in the soundtrack. The film allowed him to make a professional recording in the Melodiya Studio of Moscow. The film highlighted three of Meschian’s works, “Ancient Land,” “Epitaph” and “Resurrection.” The second film he performed in was "And, Everything will Recur," which came out in 1989, when Meschian had already moved to the United States.
In the early 1980s Meschian was the leader of the Armenian Industrial Project Studio of Architecture. At the time, he had supervised the reconstruction of Lazarian Seminary in Moscow (Later the Embassy of the Armenian Republic.) He also laid out the construction of the building of Admission for the Armenian government in Yerevan, the extension building to Matenadaran, the library of Manuscripts whose construction got delayed due to the 1988 earthquake and only resumed in 2007, when Meschian was back in Yerevan.
In 1989, Meschian, along with his family, moved to Boston, where he finally managed to properly record his songs. In 1990, he started performing in places such as the Armenian Church of Boston, the center of Armenian Relief Fund and The Wilshire Ebell Theatre. In 1990, he recorded his first album, "Catharisis". In addition, he formed a new band called Apostles 90 with Wayne Johnson on the guitar, John Leftwich on the bass and Art Rodrigues on the drums. In 1993, Meschian released yet another album called "The Monologue of the Insane Violinist", and gave a series of concerts with Apostles 90 in Pasadena, CA. In 1995, Meschian released two other albums; "Wander", which included a couple of songs from the Requiem and Communion which he deems the pinnacle of his musical career. In 1996 he first performed the Communion at the First Church of Nazarene in Pasadena. Later in the same year, his Communion was performed four days in a row at the National Academic Theater for Opera and Ballet in Yerevan.
In 2001, Meschian released his hit collection featuring four CDs encompassing “The monologue of a Crazy Violinist,” “Catharsis”, “Catharsis 2” and “Communion.” In 2003, he gave a concert at the Kodak Theater (now Dolby Theatre ) where he presented his new songs, and performed the Sayat Nova piece. In 2005, after living in the United States for 17 years, Meschian and his wife returned to Armenia. There, he gave a series of concerts which were highly esteemed and appreciated by both the general public and his long term fans who had been loyal to his art since the Soviet times.
In 1975, Apostles recorded the Requiem album, dedicated to the memory of the Armenian Genocide victims. The album was never released by the Soviet recording studio Melodiya.
* "The Monologue of an insane violinist" (Khent jutakahari menakhosutyunn), 1992 * "Catharsis", 1991 * "Wander" (Taparum), 1995 * "Communion" (Haghordutyun), 1996 * "Live At Aram Khachatryan Concert Hall", 2005 * "Arthur Meschian Live 2006"
- Arthur Meschian: The Voice of Conscience, by Emma Grigoryan, "Noev Kovcheg" newspaper, Moscow, #120, 2007, in Russian
Arthur Meschian's youtube channel OFFICIAL SITE Arthur Meschian: The Voice of Conscience, by Emma Grigoryan, "Noev Kovcheg" newspaper, Moscow, #120, 2007, in Russian Comeback (Arthur Meschian) (Blogspot) Rock in Armenia and Armenians in Rock Arthur Meschian and Apostles, by Simon Simonian, Razbirat
Text adapted from Wikipedia.