On June 5 Mediamax and Rock Aid Armenia celebrated the 30th anniversary of the charitable project, created to support the survivors of Spitak Earthquake, at Aram Khachatryan Concert Hall in Yerevan.
The gala was hosted by Rock Aid Armenia founder, Managing Director of Do Something (Australia) Jon Dee and Director of Mediamax Media Company Ara Tadevosyan.
The gala was supported by general sponsor IDBank and sponsor Koor Wines.
In the beginning of the gala, the audience welcomed to the stage rock legends Ian Gillan (Deep Purple) and Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath), who played a significant role in foundation of Rock Aid Armenia.
Jon Dee told the story of the re-recording of “Smoke on the Water” by members of Queen, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Rush, Yes, Iron Maiden, ELP and Free at Metropolis Studios in London in the summer of 1989.
Another episode he shared was about the live broadcast, organized by the BBC Russian Service for the USSR. Ian Gillan, David Gilmour and Bruce Dickinson were the members of Rock Aid Armenia who attended the live broadcast.
Ara Tadevosyan rose to speak and told how Mediamax became involved: in 2009, Tadevosyan realized it was the 20th anniversary of Rock Aid Armenia and decided to invite Jon Dee and the rock legends to Armenia to express the gratitude of the Armenian people. That is how Armenia Grateful 2 Rock project came to life.
Tadevosyan singled out three people who plaid crucial part in implementation of the project: Vigen Sargsyan, who served as Deputy Chief of Armenian President’s Staff at that time, Karen Karapetyan, then CEO of ArmRosGazprom, and then UK Ambassador to Armenia Charles Lonsdale. Ara Tadevosyan thanked Vigen Sargsyan for believing in the project and supporting it, Karen Karapetyan for taking the role of general sponsor, and Ambassador Lonsdale for providing incredible support.
“All three of them are not in Armenia currently, but I am certain they would love to be here tonight and share our joy,” said the Director of Mediamax.
When Jon Dee, Ian Gillan and Tony Iommi visited Armenia in 2009 and saw the poor conditions in Gyumri Music School N6, Armenia Grateful 2 Rock/Rock Aid Armenia acquired a new purpose: renovation of the school.
The first step towards that goal was made in March of 2010, when Gillan gave two charity concerts in Yerevan with the Armenian Orchestra, which were sponsored by VivaCell-MTS.
Jon Dee told that the same year Ian Gillan and Tony Iommi started WhoCares project and recorded two new songs to raise funds for the renovation of the school.
Ara Tadevosyan was present for the recording of ‘Out of My Mind’ at Sarm Studios in October of 2010 and told the audience it was real joy and privilege for him to meet Jon Lord, the legendary Deep Purple pianist.
Jon Dee paid tribute to Lord as well, noticing that unfortunately, three members of Rock Aid Armenia project are no longer with us. Dee invited the audience to join him and pay respects to Jon Lord, Chris Squire and Keith Emerson.
During the gala, Brian May from Queen and Geoff Downes from Yes addressed the audience via video messages.
Ara Tadevosyan presented the fundraising campaign held for the Gyumri music school and thanked the Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR) for performing as the main supporter of the project. In 2012, long-time FAR donors, the Mardigian family tripled the amount that had been collected for the school as of that moment. As soon as in September of 2013, the new building of the school opened with a solemn ceremony, with Ian Gillan and Jon Dee in attendance.
Ara Tadevosyan expressed special gratitude to Shant TV Company, which celebrates the 25th anniversary in 2019. Over the last ten years Shant has been a solid supporter of Armenia Grateful 2 Rock/Rock Aid Armenia. Tadevosyan announced that company recorded the gala night on June 5 and Shant viewers would be able to watch the televised version of the event very soon.
Later, Jon Dee revealed that Armenian musicians Vahan Artsruni and Hasmik Baghdasaryan donated their album of Mesrop Mashtots psalms to Rock Aid Armenia. The album will be soon available online, and Jon Dee encouraged everyone to buy it, as the profits from the sale will be allocated to purchase of musical instruments for the Gyumri school.
Ian Gillan and Ara Tadevosyan pointed out that in 2013, the school received instruments from owner of Millbank Music (Canada) Tim Irving, and thanked him for the generous donation.
During the event, the organizers awarded the winner of the Iommi_Gibson_Mediamax contest, Khoren Mikaelyan. Iommi declared his performance to be the best and gifted Mikaelyan a Gibson guitar with his autograph.
In the second part of the gala, Ian Gillan and Tony Iommi held a short Q&A with the fans.
The gala concluded with the footage of the concert that Gillan gave in that same hall back in 2010.
You can read about less known, but no less interesting episodes of Rock Aid Armenia in the special project by Mediamax, supported by the British Council.
Photos by Emin Aristakesyan