Our Repats: Hasmik Movsisian
29 January 2020
“Music of Armenia brought me back to Armenia, but it was Armenia and Armenians that kept me here.”
Despite her Armenian roots, Hasmik Movsisian grew up decidedly Czech - her family driven to Central Europe from Yerevan during the dark and cold years. “Home” was Prague, and later, London, where she worked at the US Embassy as a Czech-English interpreter. Raised in Soviet-era Armenia, she didn’t feel that her experiences were reflected among diasporans she encountered. It wasn’t until much later in life that her interest in “being Armenian” was reinvigorated, after finding community in the Armenian Cause and raising awareness surrounding the genocide.
Music was always Hasmik’s preferred medium of expression. In 2008, she combined her passion for business management and the arts to create “Music of Armenia,” an NGO committed to preserving and celebrating the legacy of Armenian music. Over a decade later, the organization has established several festivals celebrating Armenian musical heritage and continues to empower artists moving that tradition forward.
After deciding to base MoA out of Yerevan in 2016, Hasmik experienced a profound paradigm shift: for most of her life, she never believed that living in her country of birth was an option. Now, she can hardly tolerate being away. In her eyes, to live in Armenia is to be apart of its history: “there is so much change needed that regardless of what you do, you will be making a pivotal contribution.” This, for her, made the reality of living abroad seem trivial. She couldn’t go back to her life as it was.“Everything we think we know about Armenia as diasporans is a complete and utter myth,” Movsisian asserts. Far from backwards and destitute, she discovered that the opportunities afforded in the present-day country are abound; providing the foundation for an incredible quality of life and community. Sure, she’s often frustrated by certain local conventions, but her advice to anyone thinking of coming to Armenia is this: rely on your own personal opinions and experiences, not those of others. Some may find life in Armenia more challenging, but it is impossible to know without discovering it for yourself.
Movsisian is in the midst of planning Yerevan Music Week | 11 - 17 May 2020 this Spring, a hybrid conference-showcase-festival that aims to utilize MoA’s extensive international networks to explore and develop both the cultural and business aspects of the music industry in Armenia. Her ultimate goal? To help establish a more prosperous environment for musicians by developing the infrastructure necessary for their success.
In an increasingly divisive world, Hasmik believes in the “limitless power” of music to unite people. To stay updated on upcoming events and projects, follow Music of Armenia and support their endeavor to “breathe new life” into the legacy of Armenian music.