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Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

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Hye Sharzhoom is a supplement of The Collegian and the newspaper of the Fresno State Armenian Students Organization and the Armenian Studies Program and is funded by the Associated Students. Articles may be reprinted provided Hye Sharzhoom is acknowledged. Hye Sharzhoom welcomes prose, poetry, articles and other material from its student readers.

For further information concerning the newspaper or the Armenian Studies Program:

Armenian Studies Program
5245 N. Backer Ave. PB4
Fresno, CA 93740-8001
Telephone (559) 278-2669

Current issue
Hye Shrzhoom

Kef Time Legacy Band Presents Kef Time III-Third Year of Traditional Armenian Music

Left to right: Jim Karagozian, Michael Kamalian, Phillip Hagopian, Andrew Hagopian, and Mal Barsamian.

A new generation with ancient tunes, a fusion of fresh and familiar faces, an alluring ambiance – Kef Time Fresno re-turned for its third consecutive year on Saturday, January 27, at Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church.

With an astonishing sellout of tickets in one day, Kef Time serves as a testament to the strength of the Armenian people, and more so the Armenian youth, whose motivation and pride is to keep the legacy of their ancestors alive. This next generation of Armenians presents the community with an opportunity for the emergence of new leaders carrying on old traditions, thus demonstrating a profound respect to the history and future of the Armenian people.

“Today, the younger generation has taken over, which makes me very happy. It makes my heart feel good to see the younger generation take an interest in this music and that this music is going to be around for a while,” said Richard Hagopian.

The dance floor was full all evening as a new generation enjoyed the lively music. (Meher Kourouyan)

“It is important to know and remember the history of our Armenian ancestors, and to share those same stories and history with the young generation, who will eventually share it with the next generation. Kef Time gives us a sense of how our ancestors used to celebrate,” said Armand Karkazian, Vice President of the Armenian Students Organization.

Besides a joyous night of long-lasting entertainment and a hearty meal provided by the Holy Trinity Men’s Society, the overarching theme of cultural preservation through song and dance dominated all other aspects of the evening.

The reality is that traditional Armenian music is dwindling in modern society. Richard Hagopian recalls that when he “used to play, there were close to 7,000 or 8,000 people at Kef Times. Today, we have been replaced by DJ’s. This music is actually not live anymore.”

The revitalization of Kef Time Fresno thus serves to invigorate traditional music in a world seemingly accustomed to technological methods of entertainment.

“Kef Time is important for the next generation of Armenians because it helps preserve our rich Armenian culture with our collective participation in song and dance. It is the youths’ role to never forget our past, and look forward to a bright future,” said ASO President Alec Karayan.

The Kef Time Legacy Band consists of a mesh of generations, united by their love for performing and desire to play the music of their forefathers: Phillip Hagopian on the oud and vocals, Michael Kamalian on clarinet, Andrew Hagopian on percussion, Mal Barsamian on bass, and Jim Karagozian on kanun. The proceeds of the evening were donated to the Fresno State Armenian Studies Program.

“It’s our responsibility as musicians and for the dancers to not let this music go extinct. Seeing the revival from the past three Kef Time Fresno’s has been great,” said Michael Kamalian.

With a newer generation of musicians performing, it is exciting for the younger crowd to see us out there working together to create this music.”

Not only does the band repre-sent the hope of a continued legacy, but so do the young adults attending the events and learning the music and dances alongside their teachers, families, friends, sponsors, attendees, and volunteers.

Kef Time can “bridge the generations, fostering unity and preservation within our community and provide a platform for young Armenians in our community to connect and build relationships that will contribute to the prosperity of Armenian heritage,” remarked Andrew Hagopian.

“Encouragement and being inclusive is exactly how we can expose the next generation. At Kef Time this year, I loved watching people learn the steps for the first time and seeing the experienced Kefgees encourage them and help them learn. That is what kef is all about,” Kamalian observed. For some Armenians of the current generation, exposure to these traditions may occur once a year, but blossom into an aspect of daily life, and thus, a deeper appreciation for the culture of our ancestors.

“My appreciation for our music grew exponentially as I began learning oud and occasionally performing with Andrew Hagopian on the guitar,” recalls student musician Jonathan Chardukian. “I feel that it is incredibly important for events like Kef Time to take place because it allows young and old Armenians in the community to come together and enjoy the music that was nearly destroyed. The community value that our music adds to the diaspora ensures that we will not forget our history and that we will persevere.”

There are many resources for the newer generation to learn from, such as a local project to preserve the traditional dances that are often seen at Kef Times. “The Arax Dancers of Fresno started a project to preserve these dances through video tutorials. You can find these videos on YouTube by searching ‘Arax Dancers of Fresno.’ There are step-by-step instructions on how to do each dance, as well as a portion where you can dance with us. By learning the dances, not only are we preserving an important piece of our culture, but we enable our community to pass them down to the generations to come,” said Ariana Garabedian, a former member of the Arax Dancers. “Go to that Kef Time, attend that picnic, listen to the music, and join the dancing (even if you don’t know how to do it)!”

“I extend my heartfelt gratitude to the entire Fresno community for their unwavering support of Kef Time. As we move forward, I eagerly anticipate the coming years, committed to further expanding the event and delivering consistent excellence, all while ensuring affordability remains paramount,” said Andrew Hagopian.

Keep an eye out for upcoming events with the Kef Time Legacy Band by following them on Instagram @keftimefresno, Kef Time Fresno on Facebook, and

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