Erevan Choral Society’s Holiday Christmas Concert Dedicated to Komitas Vartabed


CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Let It Snow was not one of the songs featured in the Erevan Choral Society’s annual Christmas Holiday Concert held on Sunday, January 3, but snow it did. In the 24 hours before the concert, Cambridge saw an additional two inches blanket the area following one of the snowiest Decembers on record. But despite the wintry weather, the sanctuary of the Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church was filled to capacity for a concert that has become a holiday tradition in the greater Boston Armenian and musical communities.

The second Christmas concert without the guiding hand of founder-director, the Very Rev. Oshagan Minassian, commenced with the traditional candlelight procession to the strains of O Come All Ye Faithful, opening a program of mixed traditional Armenian, light classical and Western Christmas music, under the direction of renowned Armenian composer Konstantin Petrossian. Petrossian’s conducting was crisp and lively, coaxing from the ensemble of mostly professional instrumentalists and mostly amateur choristers a sound ranging from the energy and verve of Jerry Herman’s We Need a Little Christmas from the musical “Mame,” to the prayerful lyricism of Vahan Bedelian’s Yegheghetsin Haygagan dedicated to Minassian’s memory, and Komitas Vartabed’s Orhnerk Hayrabedagan, one of three pieces commemorating the 140th anniversary of the celebrated Armenian composer’s birth. The program also included five arrangements by the multitalented Petrossian, four of which premiered at the concert. Particular high points included the solo offerings of operatic tenor Yeghishe Manucharyan and mezzo-soprano Victoria Avetisyan. Significantly impressive were Manucharyan’s vibrant rendering of Komitas’ Hayastan and Avetisyan’s soaring interpretation of the traditional Aysor Don eh Soorp Dzununtyan, both in premier arrangements by composer Petrossian.

In a year of economic hardship and the conspicuous absence of the guiding hand and indomitable energy of Minassian, many had feared that the holiday concert might not go forward. Thanks to the efforts of Fr. Vazken Kouzouian, pastor of Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church, the dedication of Petrossian and the members of the Erevan Choral Society and Orchestra, and the financial support of the Armenian community of greater Boston, the annual Christmas Holiday Concert may be judged to have been an unqualified success, and all concerned may feel at least cautious optimism that with continued faith and dedication the tradition will go forward in the years to come — snow or no snow.