OAKSENHAM was founded in 2001 on the basis of another Armenian prog-rock band of nineties “Dumbarton Oaks” (D.O.). The bass player Vahagn Papayan, and D.O. second unit drummer Ashot Korganyan were waiting for more than half decade to move on with the work once interrupted. In 2001 flute and keyboard player Valery Tolstov joined them to confirm the core around which the other musicians assembled one after one. The band’s first gig was held at the “Pacific” festival on September 30, 2001. The band appeared with a completely acoustic line-up including flute (Valery Tolstov), bassoon (Vahagn Papayan, aka Jeff), oboe (Harutyun Shakhkyan), guitar (Henry Karagyozyan, “The King’s Cross”), percussion (Ashot Korganyan) added with violin and cello. Two instrumental arrangements of immortal Gentle Giant compositions were performed – Talybont and On Reflection, as well as three movements from 5-piece suite called “Conquest of the Pacific”.
Immediately after the festival, Vardan Gasparyan joined the band on acoustic and electric guitars. His polistylistic experience in flamenco, rhythm-and-blues and jazz-rock seemed to fit the band rocky tastes overall.
While the band set the course towards the electric program, some experiments with the line-up concluded in the decision to leave Valery Tolstov alone with his flute and taking Anna Adamyan who never had played in any rock band before, on keyboards. Her advantage was the good note-reading abilities, disadvantage – the gender, for the world history of last 40 years has demonstrated the plain truth that women in rock were no good except vocals. The last constant member, Koryun Bobikyan, had rich experience in different bands as a… drummer, but joined the group on violin in March 2002.
Two months later, on June 5, 2002, Wednesday, the first concert was given. It was recorded by Narekatsi Art Institute. After the editing endeavours of Serge Melkonyan and management of Arman Padaryan (Cadence Music Centre) the concert CD “Woden’s Eve Live” (cover design by Artashes “Ata” Stambolzyan, age-old friend & supporter) was set to release.
The recording was highly appreciated in influential prog-rock magazines, such as “Classic Rock Society”, UK, “Exposé”, US, “Progressiste”, Belgium, and the Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock.
In 2003 the collaboration with the “Antenna” NGO and its director Artyom Ayvazyan gave the group chance to cease the eternal search for a practice-place and concentrate on preparing two separate programs, one for live performances, another for the first studio album “The Conquest of the Pacific”.
On October 10, the “Firewall” festival organized by Artyom Ayvazyan took place at Yerevan Puppet Theatre. Six bands, considered the most charismatic at the time – Bambir, Oaksenham, MDP, Artsruni, Lav Eli and Empyray – participated. The festival had a huge success and was appreciated as a symbol of Armenian Rock Revival.
2004 began in hasty preparing for “The Beatles-Fantasy” premiere that took place by support of British Council in Armenia at “British Pop-Prints of 60-ies” Exhibition on March 18. Four members of Oaksenham (Bass, Drums, Guitar, Flute) came together with old friends from Philharmonic Orchestra and …(!!!) Army Service…- Armen Sukiasyan(French Horn), Andranik Kochar(Bassoon), Harutyun Shakhkyan(oboe) and Souren Khorozyan (Clarinet) to give birth to a unique piece of art, based on the legendary Liverpool Quartet music and lyrics (though absolutely instrumental), the composition and arrangement of which was undertaken by Vahagn Papayan for Rock-band and Woodwind Quintet since 1999.
On April 22, the Beatles-Fantasy was presented live in Concert at Yerevan Puppet Theatre.
May 31, the last time the band seen on stage. Another 6 band festival dedicated to the upcoming Children’ Protection Day. Valery Tolstov was playing examines in Zurich Conservatory, so the band appeared as a quintet this time. Beside own compositions Oaksenham presented a newly arranged Gentle Giant classic instrumental “Boys in the Band” close to the original studio version as much as possible. The band members acknowledge this set as the best live performance in their concert experience.
Currently they all are headloose involved in the studio recordings of long-expected “The Conquest of the Pacific” album at the MDP Studio with recording sound engineer Vardan Grigoryan. 12 tracks, more than 15 instruments, including almost every sound sample of symphonic orchestra, even such colouristic rarities in rock as English Horn or Harp…
Dumbarton Oaks Story