#TUMOspotlight on Gugo the Shvi Master

We’d like to preface this article by stating that TUMO’s active, talented, and hilarious student Gurgen Avetisyan will henceforth be referred to simply as Gugo. This term of affection didn’t come about by accident; it’s safe to say that Gugo is kind of a celebrity. Everyone knows him, he’s somehow always in the vicinity and the sound of his flute is one of TUMO’s most pleasant soundtracks.

Though it’s only been a year since 16-year-old Gugo started coming to TUMO, he’s already done quite a bit. He first caught our attention during Artyom Manukyan’s music learning lab and from there, began participating in any and all of TUMO’s music programs. His mom likes to remind Gugo and his brother, who plays the dhol drum, that they “owe” her. After all, she was the one who convinced them to take part in Artyom’s lab, despite the fact that they had both just started at TUMO and felt they wouldn’t make the cut.

Participants in Artyom’s lab were divided into four bands - and Gugo performed in almost every one. In the span of one concert, he had performed everything from Bob Marley to System of a Down to Ray Charles’ “Hit the Road Jack.” But Gugo’s experience in music wasn’t always this diverse. “From the age of seven, I’ve been playing in different bands and performing at different concerts. I’ve always jumped at any chance I had to use my flute, but it was only at TUMO that I learned how to mix different genres and to improvise and not just play by the notes.”

Gugo has already finished the first and second levels of our music workshop and is anxiously waiting for the third. In the meantime, he’s participated in special music projects at TUMO. For instance, as a member of TUMO band TmbaTa, he’s performed at a number of concerts. “TmbaTa is a completely new experience for me. I had never performed rock before, but the ethno-rock format of the band really appealed to me.” After only a few weeks of being a band member, Gugo performed in a concert where he played a part in 26 songs. “Even though I was very nervous while preparing (there was little time and lots of songs!), it was then that I realized what I was part of. TmbaTa is like a magnet that gets even the shyest person dancing and makes them happy.” This much is obvious as you see him physically incapable of holding back his happiness. The rhythm got him.

Gugo’s enthusiastic energy can be seen beyond concerts. More often than not, you get the feeling that he’s around. “There’s always something going on at TUMO and I’m always around because I find something interesting to do. With all the rehearsals and workshops and things going on, it seems like I’m always at TUMO. Plus, now that it’s warmer, my friends and I can play Frisbee in the park.”

As to why a seven-year-old decided to play the flute instead of, say, the piano or guitar? “Well, my family has told me that when I was four or five years old and Jivan Kasbaryan would perform on TV I would freeze and wouldn’t be able to focus on anything else. It was then that I knew I wanted to play the duduk, but I was told by my music instructors that I stood the risk of damaging my lungs if I started at such a young age. So I traded out the duduk for a flute. I guess I could start learning to play the duduk now, but I’ve recently started enjoying the saxophone. So, we’ll see.”

Gugo wants to put his musical background to good use by working with the less experienced. “I’d love to be like our workshop leaders and work with TUMO students. I want to have my own band and work with them and work with whatever instrument and object, whatever it takes to make an interesting sound. I hope to reach that level one day.” We’re pretty sure if he continues on this path, he can reach any goal he aspires to.

If you measure Gugo’s musical journey not in years, but in experience, then you can already call Gugo a master flautist. This is only IF such a thing exists (which we kind of hope it does). He’s already performed at over 100 concerts in countries all over the world including the United States, France, Georgia, and of course, Armenia.