For the Record: Music, art, improv, a conversation with Ahmed Amer and Vladimir Kurumilian

Their performance consists of Kurumilian playing his own piano composed pieces while Amer improvises sketches using different canvas, surfaces, paper, and pens to the live music played.
by Chiri Choucair

31 August 2019 | 15:40

Source: by Annahar Staff

  • by Chiri Choucair
  • Source: Annahar Staff
  • Last update: 31 August 2019 | 15:40

File photo shows, Ahmed Amer and Vladimir during their second performance in Salon Beirut

BEIRUT: Away from crowded spaces with loud music, flashing lights, and a BPM of 120 or higher, a project that combined two different artists fusing music and art has been taking place in Beirut.

Starting a few months ago in Bardo Beirut, Ahmed Amer, who is a fashion designer and artist, and Vladimir Kurumilian, architect, musician, and composer, decided to take the stage to showcase their live piano and improvised sketching for the first time. Kurumilian having already two albums released and Amer being a fashion designer, the duo came together to create something new and exciting.

Their performance consists of Kurumilian playing his own piano composed pieces while Amer improvises sketches using different canvas, surfaces, paper, and pens to the live music played.

Initially, Kurumilian graduated as an architect, and although he still practices it as a profession, he explained that music is not a secondary choice for him, “When I have a concert, I start preparing a month or two in advance. When I have to make an album, it takes a year off work to put it out there.”

Although being described as niche artists as their performance is raw and expressionist, their aspirations include making their art accessible to everyone and their message reaching a larger audience.

Amer explained to Annahar how the two came to collaborate after he started sketching to the album “Dopamine” by Kurumilian. “He saw the drawings, we started talking and decided why don’t we throw an event together? I already used to do live sketching, and Vladimir already had a vast knowledge of live music.”

Kurumilian is a classically trained pianist, who has been playing music ever since he was a child going through fifteen years of music school teachings. Having started composing in 2017, he already has two albums out, one of which he released earlier this year “Brume”.

“Ahmed never sketched on this album, and suddenly we went into the performance and I had a different image of what Ahmed was gonna draw.” He explained to Annahar the dynamic collaboration and how it occurs on stage.

“When I was playing my second track of the album which is completely melancholic piano and with no electronic features or sounds whatsoever, I looked back to see him done with a black sketch with one beautiful white line across it.” He added.

From sketching using two hands to sketching powerful messages and concepts, Amer has no preparation for his performances as they are a form of “pure improvised expression”. He explained that sketching starts within the person as a child, and from there it either improves, evolves, and develops as an art form or it’s left as it is.

As for music, composing comes to Kurumilian as a personal experience, a need to express, and a message that needs to be delivered.

“You either do art for the sake of making art so you do something beautiful, or you do art for the sake of getting a message out of it, which is something more society-based and interactive. This is something very important, an artist needs to criticize what’s wrong with the society which he does through his art in a smart way.” He added.

With many challenges to handle and being relatively new to performing together, the duo explained the critical planning, hard work, and detail it takes to combine their very diverse and well-developed styles and performances together, as they meet every day to plan and practice.

"Every project is a very personal experience, even when Ahmed and I collaborate he’s inspired from what I’m playing but at the same time, I’m looking at what he’s doing and I know his style, I know his sketches, and what direction he might go in knowing the combination that we have," Kurumilian told Annahar

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