“Classical music can not be a commercial project. People don’t make fortunes with classical music. And there is no interest from big companies or from advertising companies to invest because the market share is relatively small. But at the same time, it’s such an extremely difficult art to master.” – Edgardo Vertanessian, Prima Classic  CEO & Co-Founder

The interview with Edgardo Vertanessian, CEO & Co-Founder of Prima Classic Record Label delves into the significance of private support for culture, highlighting the emotional resonance of music and the importance of preserving artistic heritage. 

In a conversation with Mrs Maria Kikina Mr Vertanessian, reveals his family history connected to Armenia, and views on the importance of possibility to record for young artists, specifically in classical music.

The Primavera Foundation expresses sincere gratitude to Edgardo Vertanessian and Prima Classic label for our collaboration. We are thrilled to be able to design and run more initiatives in the coming years together!

Full interview here

“Private Support Is Fundamental For Culture”

– Edgardo Vertanessian, CEO & Co-Founder, Prima Classic Record Label 

On April 5, 2024, Prima Classic label released the first single from the History of Tango album with works for guitar and orchestra. The album features Artyom Dervoed (classical guitar), Yuri Medianik (button accordion), and Sergey Shamov (percussion) with the Russian National Orchestra under the baton of David Molard Soriano. The album tracklist includes works by Astor Piazzolla and Cacho Tirao, including the newly arranged works for guitar and orchestra: the world-premiere recordings of the new transcriptions of “Suite del Angel”, “Histoire du Tango”, and “Libertango”. 

50% of the History of Tango album streaming proceeds will be used to support the Primavera Foundation Armenia Classical Guitar educational program for young Armenian musicians. 

We asked Mr. Vertanessian about this project and his personal connection to Armenia. 

Primavera Foundation Armenia (PFA): What were your emotions when you listened to Artyom Dervoed’s History of Tango album for the first time?

Edgardo Vertanessian (EV): It was very emotional! I was born in Buenos Aires, I grew up there. It is my beloved city and when I listened to this album, I was flushed with memories and impressions of Buenos Aires. For us, Piazzola represents Buenos Aires and this album is so well performed!

PFA: But you are Armenian, and your family fled from the Armenian genocide… What do you remember about Armenia from your family history?

EV: Yes, I have Armenian blood from both of my parents’ sides. My mother’s and my father’s families came from the same small town in Türkiye called Bilecik. Now I can’t find it on the map… It was the Ottoman Empire, and the city name may have been changed since then. They were from well-established Armenians who lived in Türkiye. On my father’s side, they were very wealthy, they owned a silk factory. 

When Ataturk and his criminals came to power and started killing the Armenians they took everything from them. My ancestors lived in the countryside where the killings first started, as there was no press, no media, nothing. My family had connections, so some of them managed to escape to Istanbul, yet some of them were killed. 

After all, most of them ended up in France, and they still live there. My grandparents from my father’s side settled in Argentina. Their families arranged the marriage in advance via letters, and my grandmother took a ship to Buenos Aires to meet her husband, my grandfather. Although my grandfather died young of a stroke, they had a lovely marriage. He had studied in Italy and was a very well-educated man. They started a new life there… 

From my mother’s side, my grandfather arrived in Argentina as an orphan, and later married a Spanish woman (my grandmother) and they set up a metal-work factory in Buenos Aires. It still exists! 

Our story is like every Armenian family in the Diaspora around the world: after everything had been taken from them in Türkiye, they found peace and happiness elsewhere, in our case in Argentina, such a wonderful place! They all immediately fell in love with Argentina. I’m a second generation Argentinian. Unfortunately, we didn’t go to Armenian schools and we don’t speak the language. 

This is just a part of our family story. It is known that Turks were killing entire families, killing parents in front of their children’s eyes, and we have dark stories in our family too. I’m sad and frustrated that it is not coming to light, that Turks do not recognize it.

PFA: Primavera Foundation Armenia is a non-governmental organization. What is the role of private support for the culture?

EV: I think that private support for the fine arts is fundamental. It has always been. Even in the times of Beethoven, he had to find rich people to give him money for his compositions, Mozart was running around searching for sponsors, Vivaldi… We have seen it throughout history, it’s nothing new, and today it’s as important as it ever was. Apart from popular music, for example, classical music can not be a commercial project. People don’t make fortunes with classical music. And there is no interest from big companies or from advertising companies to invest because the market share is relatively small. But at the same time, it’s such an extremely difficult art to master. If you play, let’s say, flute, you have to practice for years before you can even apply for a job in an orchestra and you have to be really good at it! It’s a lifetime commitment from an artist. 

If there were no private individuals who appreciate and finance classical music, if we leave it to the market forces, there would be much less support and much less development. What Primavera Foundation does is extraordinary, because it not only supports performers, but the foundation supports musicians in a minor country like Armenia: a small yet significant country in terms of culture and religion. Its people are known to be active and entrepreneurial everywhere they go, but it’s a small country after all, so if someone takes an interest and supports the local culture I think it’s remarkable. 

PFA: You are a co-founder and CEO of Prima Classic record label. Is it important to teach musicians the basics of recording? Will this knowledge help their careers?

EV: Artists should have an idea of what it is to record. Maybe it should be taught in schools, very briefly though, because it is not a big subject from a musician’s point of view. But to be prepared to record is not the same as to be prepared to perform. When you are recording, you need the energy of the performance but at the same time, you need perfection. Even if there is a mistake in a single note you cannot leave it, as it will stay there forever. 

You have to take a more analytical approach when you record and make sure that the emotions and the technical perfection are there. If you make it too “clinical”, it could end up being a cold recording, but if you make it too emotional, it might have a lot of mistakes. You have to find a balance. During a recording usually, there are lots of repetitions, when musicians play the same part over and over again. 

There is also the studio time needed for it. To record an album of, say, one hour of duration, provided that you are a well-prepared instrumentalist, you will need anywhere between 12 and 24 studio hours, depending on the difficulty of the repertoire. You need to repeat and then select the best takes, and the engineer will put together all the pieces. Unlike in a performance, you never record from beginning to end. Well, some artists can do it, but it is not the norm. The norm is that you record, stop, listen, and repeat until everyone is happy, only then do you move to the next piece. 

Musicians also should know how to record themselves. Now it’s very easy to do with a computer at home, and with some microphones which are not very expensive. The cost of a home recording is very low, and with a few hundred euros you can make a demo recording, for example, and upload it for free to SoundCloud. To start recording themselves and putting the music out, it’s a good way to show their craft to the public, to agents, and to record labels as well.

Maria Kikina