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At the end of January and at the beginning of February we have been privileged to attend the amazing festival La Folle Journee in Nantes! It has been our comeback to the festival after the edition in 2015. As the theme of the festival this year was “Voyages” we deciced to present versatile program of works from J.S.Bach, A. Ginastera, L. Bernstein, C. Corea.

First we have played two concerts in La Folle Journee en Region(Savenay, La Lude) and after 4 concerts in Nantes!

They were many remarkable moments in a week there, but to name two, it would be big opening of the festival on 28th(we played Ginastera and Corea) and two visits at hospitals where we have given charity concerts.

On many many years La Folle Journee!


Travelling is one of the most recurrent activities of a musician who is playing in concerts. Packing suitcases and finding your ways in new airports and unknowns train stations is an everyday challenge but also a matter of course. Being a citizen of Armenia, I also need to check for each country if I need a special visa or not. Usually it is the case for Armenia.



But it happens again and again that the journey does not go according to my schedule.
It may be a delayed train, sometimes a traffic jam or – as it has happened once – the plane cannot take off at all because of the weather. All this has happened to me several times and that are actually quite normal reasons for a non scheduled trip.
Now there were also other cases where I was not on time or where I arrived with considerable delays
I remember an incident in April 2010 during the volcanic eruption “Eyjafjallajökull”. Back then, I was in Italy and on my schedule I had a concert in East Germany the next day. After havingI understood that I don’t have any chance to travel by plane because they were all cancelled
and there were no more tickets for the trains from Italy to Germany, I took ´the decision , around midnight, to take a taxi from Rome to Munich. Yes a taxi, 7 hours drive and 1000 EUR
cost. From Munich I got into an ICE and drove on, at the end the concert took place.
and everyone was happy.

Unfortunately I didn’t have as much luck during my journey a few days ago as at that time. All started with a flight from Mauritius to Dubai: at first, everything went according to plan. After a four hour stay in Dubai I was supposed to take the next flight to Munich. According to my plan I should arrive at 7 am in Munich.
and at 7.30 pm at the same day I was supposed to interpret within a concert in Polling with the SIGNUM Saxophone Quartet.
After having landed n Dubai, I came to Terminal A, Gate A18 in order to get from there
to board the plane to Munich. “Flight EK050 to Munich is ready for Boarding”, announced an artificial, but friendly voice.
I held my passport and boarding pass in my hands and waited in line.
until it’ was my turn. Now the time had come: I showed it and expected that I will be able to get back my documents with a friendly smile and the usual answer: “Have a nice flight” from the airline employee. But everything turns out to be different and unexpected: “Your Visa has expired!”, she replies instead. Friendly and calm, I point out to the employee that it has been extended and that perhaps she has not seen the extention.

Then she tells me to take a seat and wait. Now I wait, and observe the other passengers cross the checkpoint one by one .Then I see someone taking my passport and going somewhere. The person
comes back after five minutes and gives the passport to the employee who stopped me.
I wait another 10 minutes, but then I loose my patience, stand up and go to the person and ask,
what’s going to happen now. Without looking at me she just says, ” You cannot go to Germany”.
“What?” – I say. I can’t go to Germany? To my home, the place where I have been living and working already for 12 years
I try to stay calm and ask what it is, I am being ignored and told
to sit quietly and wait. Now all the passengers are through and finally I am told that indeed, my
Residence permit for Germany had been extended; though, the permit only allows me to stay there but not enter the country. „How ist that possible“, i protest. „I have traveled to Korea last month, and without hurdles entered again, and that was already with the same extension. I am trying to
explain, also I declare that I am a musician, that I travel very often and that I am playing an important concert in Germany. My voice this time is certainly louder than before and I notice how it makes me feel warm. The employee calls someone, in this moment I imagine the worst
Case Scenario:,I may not go to Germany, will be deported to my home country, the concert
can’t take place. A horror!!!

Suddenly a gentleman arrives. From his acting, I deduce that it is the superior of the employee, he is nice and friendly but explaines to me that on the page where the stamp of the extension is located has he read the word “Duldung.” And says, you can stay in Germany but you are not allowed to leave and reenter the country. And therefore your residence title is not valid…. Such a shame that the word „Duldung“ (“acquiescence”) seems the only word the gentleman reads instead of reading the whole page since it says .”Supplement to the residence permit”. And in fact, the authorities use one and the same supplementary sheet for these both different forms of residence permit in Germany.
While reexplaining this in all details again, I see that the plane I was supposed to take is already taking off. The gentleman makes me a suggestion. His idea is to contact the German authorities and if they approuve it, I can take the next flight to Munich. I check this suggestion and find out that the next airplain takes off in six hours. I would be arriving, in this case, in Munich at 1pm wich might work out to be in time for the rehearsal at 4.
I am reassured and glad that my horror scenario will finally not become reality.
I am accompanied into a room and given there my passport, get a voucher with which I
can buy a menu at McDonald’s and I’m asked to come in three hours. Until then
the request should be answered by the German authorities, and if everything is right, then they will call me on to rebook the next flight.

Meanwhile it is 4 am and I feel the tiredness. I sit down, try to
come down a little. At some point the 3 hours of hard work will be over, I’ll go back to the
Immigration Office with a good feeling, because I am sure it will be answered positively.
But now the gentleman tells me that there is no answer from Munich until now. He claims that today is a holiday in Germany, and nobody answeres the phones (since the offices are closed).. Though I know that the 17.11.2018 is not a holiday.

Hence I decide tocall Germany myself, I google the number of the federal police at the Munich Airport and dial the number.
A nice police officer answeres the phone, he understands exactly what is at stake, and checks all requests received in the last few months, but he can’t find any request from the Emirates or with my name on it.
I feel that he wants to help me but that he is not able to and that this makes him almost as sad as me.
I go back to the Immigration Office and say that there was no request in Munich. As a reply, they explain me to stay calm and that they are trying to help me; though, more is not possible and the next flight to Munich will take off without me. That destroys all my hopes. My concert seems less realistc than ever. I almost cry thinking about the amount of time and energy I had invested in the concert, the motivation and the joy I felt in every minute I practised. I prepare myself to send a message to my colleages and tell them that I cannot come. But how should I write it?
How to put it right.?. I struggle for the words. It’s a shocking fact that seems impossible to convey beautifully.
After a short time there are the first reactions, despite the bad news, my ensemble partners try to
to calm me down and stand by me at this difficult moment.
I notice that my fatigue reaches its limits, I can no longer sit, go into microsleep again and again. I am powerless, I can only wait, so I decide to book an hourly hotel to get some sleep. It costs me100 Euros for three hours of sleep but it’s worth it for me.
I was totally exhausted, physically and morally. After the three hours of sleep I feel
better and stronger. My hope has come back. So I go back to the office again; the officer claims that there are no messages out
The Munich authorities have still not responded.

Afterwards I am told that someone from the German embassy in Dubai is supposed to come and talk to me in order to examine my case.and take a look on my Visa. Under the circumstances, it is really good news, because at least
I know that I don’t have to fly to my home and from there one more way.
to Germany and besides I am simply happy that I will soon be able to enter the plane to Germany.
Suddenly I am told that I can take off for Germany. I get a boarding pass. Boarding in two hours.
At this time I feel a clear hunger, and I remember the voucher, hich I had received 10 hours ago by now.
After small reinforcement , the time has finally come. The boarding begins: Instead of A 10 it is Gate  A18 this time – but I do not care; the importance for me now is finally leave this country. Since I was tolt that there
will be someone from the German embassy, I scan thourgh the fuel for a person that I can’t find.
I imagine the ambassy worker a cultivated man in a suit. But I can’t find anyone. Boarding starts, I am standing in the line.

I’ve got another employee standing in front of me checking the documents. He
is informed about my case, and says it will probably work this time. I ask for
the whereabouts of the embassy employee, but I don’t get an answer to that. My
passport is carefully examined, he hands it over to a colleague who uses a magnifying glass with light.
and holds it under different viewing angles. I have the feeling she’s unsure what to do.
and how to act. She hesitates and after 5 seconds of hesitation, she gives me my passport and the boarding pass, smiles and wishes me the following:
“Have a nice Flight.” On the one hand I am overjoyed that I am now allowed to fly to Germany,
but on the other hand, I wonder how it can be possible that I am allowed to fly now if there was neither a confirmation from Munich and nor other message
Why am I allowed to fly now, but was not 12 hours ago? And I ask the employee who answers: “I am not permitted to answer this question”.

I don’t think we’ll ever exactly know the reason for my longer stay in Dubai. But right now I am finally sitting in the plane and will be in Munich at 7.30 pm German time. Landing time is the hour of the concert….
Thoutgh not everything is lost; we postponed the concert. It will take place on 11.04.2019 .
But one thing is sure, I won’t come back to Dubai that soon. Thanks to all those who supported me in this cruel situation,
to all SIGNUMs, to my family, and to my dear girlfriend who
stayed in Dubai with me all this time, although she wasn’t stopped.


Last week we have been invited to play a concert at Rostropovich festival in Baku/ Azeirbaijan. Absolutely a dream invitation for me, as he is my hero and ispiration since I can remember. Happiness!
Only one day later we’ve got a message from presenter (great one!!) and our office that we are not allowed to enter the land of Azeirbaijan since someone of us is from Armenia and has armenian passport. Not only this.- in case of trying to enter the land to play the concert, he has to go directly to the police.- in worst case to prison. I know political problem beetwen countries which is 100 years old but what a shame.- 21st century. So we had to cancel the concert. And it is not about the concert…! At the moment I am writing this, I am having italian food with a glass of german wine; listening french music from american artist on a japanese telephone!
What the f**k? Let us just do music and think about what is happening! For democracy and human rights! What kind of world will stay after us?!!

KRITIK DRESDNER MUSIKFESTPIELE: Wenn wenig Holz viel Holz ersetzt

Ist in der Instrumentalmusik von einem Quartett die Rede, so geht es fast immer um Streicher. Aber da gibt es noch mehr, wie ein Konzert der Dresdner Musifestspiele zeigte.

Von Torsten Kohlschein erschienen am 29.05.2018 in “FREIE PRESSE”

Dresden. Warum gilt das Saxofon eigentlich als Holzblasinstrument? Sieht doch jeder, dass das Ding aus Blech ist! – So berechtigt die Frage, so einfach die Antwort. Es geht in diesem Fall nicht darum, woraus das Instrument ist, sondern was den Ton erzeugt. Und das ist beim Saxofon ein ins Mundstück gespanntes angeschliffenes Blatt aus Schilfrohr, für dessen beim Anblasen entstehende Schwingungen die “Blechkanne” nur den Resonanzkörper bildet.

Dass indes ein solches Instrument gleich vierfach auf dem Podium
erscheint, ist in Deutschland, noch dazu in der Klassik, selten.
Anders als im Geburtsland Frankreich, ist das Saxofon hierzulande
in diesem Genre eher ein geduldeter Exot. Wieso eigentlich? Das
fragt man sich um so mehr nach dem Konzert des Signum
Saxophone Quartet am Sonntagabend zu den Dresdner
Musikfestspielen im ausverkauften Atrium der Sparkassen-
Versicherung Sachsen im Stadtteil Mickten. Zumal ein Haydn-
Streichquartett das Programm eröffnete, das für Sopran- (Blaž
Kemperle), Alt- (HayrapetArakelyan), Tenor- (Alan Luzar) und
Baritonsaxofon (Guerino Bellarosa) arrangiert war. Wenig Holz statt viel Holz also, das dieser vor Entstehung ihrer Instrumente gesetzten Musik neue Aspekte entlockte. Mehr Kontraste von Laut und Leise etwa. Andere Klangfarben sowieso.
Aber das war bei Weitem nicht alles an diesem Abend. Bei einem Arrangement von Modest Mussorgskis Klavierwerk “Bilder einer Ausstellung” zeigten die vier jungen Männer in Schwarz, welcher Farbreichtum in ihren Instrumenten steckt. Das klingt mal nach Flöte, mal nach Horn, ja, mit spezieller Anblastechnik entlockte Guerino Bellarosa seinem Bariton, dem unterschätztesten Mitglied der Familie Sax, gar Töne, die wie tiefe Pizzicati klangen. Perfekt aufeinander eingespielt und die vielen heiklen Passagen des Stücks scheinbar mühelos meisternd, erweckte das Quartett den Eindruck, als seien die “Bilder” extra für diese Besetzung geschrieben worden.
Das Publikum war aus dem Häuschen – und konnte gleich draußen bleiben, als die Vier nach der Pause eine Suite aus Leonard Bernsteins “West Side Story” spielten, die in Sachen Rhythmik, Effektreichtum, perkussiver Klänge etcetera noch eine Schippe draufpackte.
Der zwei kurzen, hochvirtuosen Stücke “Four For Tango” von Astor Piazzolla und “Spain”, einer “Aranjuez”-Variation nach Joaquín Rodrigo von Chick Corea, hätte es fast nicht mehr bedurft. Denn beweisen mussten die Musiker da schon längst nichts mehr.