Smithsonian Folklife Festival introduces visitors to Azerbaijan on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

For Immediate Release
Contact: Kelsey King
Washington, D.C.
Azerbaijani Food

June 22, 2012—Visitors to the world-famous annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., June 27-July 1 and July 4-8, 2012, will experience Azerbaijani cultural traditions presented by the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage in collaboration with the Karabakh Foundation.Throughout the Festival visitors can purchase authentic Azerbaijani food and drink from the Festival’s Azerbaijani food tent. And on two consecutive “Azerbaijani Thursdays”— June 28 and July 5—music lovers will enjoy the Festival’s concerts of Azerbaijani mugham music by virtuosos Imamyar Hasanov and Pezhham Akhavass in the Justin S. Morrill Performing Arts Center.on the National Mall.For a full schedule of the Folklife Festival days, hours, and events, visit Attendance at the Festival is free of charge.About the Smithsonian Folklife Festival

The Smithsonian Institution is the U.S. national museum and the world’s largest museum and research complex.  The Smithsonian Folklife Festival has become a “national and international model of a research-based presentation of contemporary living cultural traditions.” An estimated one million individuals visit the Festival each year.

Folk Life FestivalThe largest annual cultural event in the U.S. capital, the Folklife Festival is widely publicized. Some 40 million readers and viewers learn about each year’s Festival through print and electronic media. Numerous books, documentary films, scholarly articles, and conference sessions have showcased the Smithsonian Folklife Festival as an exceptional platform for cultural diplomacy.

The Festival brings together participants with visitors from all over the world. Participants also have the opportunity to share their cultural messages with diplomats, cultural leaders, policy makers, and others in the U.S. capital. The displays of living cultural heritage serve as platforms for future cultural presentations, from documentary films to cultural conferences to museum exhibitions. Festival practice served as both the backdrop and inspiration for the consideration and ultimately the development of UNESCO’s 2003 International Convention on the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Azerbaijani Representation at the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival

The Karabakh Foundation is pleased to play a lead role in presenting Azerbaijani culture to Folklife Festival audiences. The Festival’s food tent will afford a “taste” of Azerbaijani’s distinctive cuisine, from special Azerbaijani-style dolmas to kebabs. The two evening concerts will steep listeners in the lyrical sounds of mugham music, which has few cultural cognates.

Imamyar HassanovJune 28’s concert is entitled, Music from the Land of Fire, and features Azerbaijani songs selected to convey the spirit of Azerbaijani folk music. July 5’s program, Undiscovered Treasure: The Kamancha of Azerbaijan, spotlights the ancient stringed instrument that, along with the lute-like tar, lends so much of Azerbaijani music its special lyrical sound. Azerbaijani musical icon Uzeyir Hajibeyov (1885-1948) said of the kamancha,

“Music played on the kamancha is a perfect instrument to convey the human voice.”

Accompanying Imamyar Hasanov is percussionist Pezhham Akhavass, modern-day master of the tombak, a Persian goblet drum. Audience members at a recent concert with the pair used descriptions like, “dazzling,” “almost other-wordly,” and “a musical expression of Azerbaijani pride” to convey the performance’s impact.


The Karabakh Foundation is working with the Smithsonian Institution to present Azerbaijani-themed items for sale in the Festival Marketplace. Azerbaijani decorative arts— notably textile design and production—feature prominently in the Foundation’s cultural programming.About the Karabakh Foundation
Pezhham Akhavass
The Karabakh Foundation is a U.S. 501(c)(3) cultural charity foundation based in Washington, D.C., that seeks to increase awareness and understanding in the United States of the cultural heritage and traditions of the country of Azerbaijan, the Caucasus area, and the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan.While coalescing significant artistic and scholarly talent, the Foundation is nurturing a new generation of artists and scholars toward important accomplishments. The Foundation serves as a dynamic facilitator and clearinghouse raising the public profile of Azerbaijan, its Karabakh region, and the Caucasus region in general.Main activities include preserving and disseminating cultural content via archival collecting, public programs, publications, exhibitions, speaking forums, international collaborations, scholarly exchange, artistic sponsorship, and related venues.

Foundation support comes primarily from Khazar University, the first private university in Azerbaijan and one of the country’s leading institutions of higher learning. Support also comes from the U.S.-based Allaverdy Foundation. Additional information about the Karabakh Foundation may be found at

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