Banquet in New Jersey Honoring Mirror-Spectator Set for June 4


Singer Datevik will perform at the banquet.

By Aram Arkun
Mirror-Spectator Staff

TEANECK, N.J. — The Tekeyan Cultural Association and the Friends of the Mirror- Spectator are hosting a banquet in anticipation of the 80th anniversary of the Armenian Mirror-Spectator on June 4.

The idea for the first solely English-language Armenian paper in the United States was proposed in 1931, and realized in 1932. The Tekeyan Cultural Association has undertaken the effort to support the newspaper with a gala fundraising event because of its very close ties with the Mirror-Spectator. Vartan Ilanjian, one of the advisors in the Greater New York chapter of Tekeyan, noted that the efforts of three pillars of ongoing support of the newspaper in the area in its early period — Dr. Moses Housepian, Jack Antreassian and Armine Dikijian — would be commemorated at the event, and more information will be presented about them.

Ilanjian declared: “The role of the Mirror-Spectator has been great in the United States, though its reach has been global. It has played a vital role in maintaining and perpetuating cultural values and ideology. Though some ask why we need newspapers while there is the Internet, as an information technology professional I would tell you this: Over the years there have been numerous changes in media. The value of technology can be tremendous if and only if you can retrieve information from it. The only media that so far has withstood the test of time has been printed media. So we need to keep the printed newspapers.”

The banquet will commence at 7 p.m. with a cocktail reception, and dinner will be at 8 o’clock. Dr. Raffy Hovanessian will serve as the master of ceremonies. There will be classical music performed by cellist Elizabeth Kalfayan during cocktails, while singer Datevik Hovanesian will provide jazz entertainment for guests later in the program.

Hovanessian, born in Jerusalem, graduated rom the American University of Beirut. After medical school, he did post-graduate study at Johns Hopkins University. He is board certified in internal medicine and gastroenterology. He served one year as a major in the US army and then began private practice in Merrillville, Ind. He was chairman of medicine and president of the medical staff at both St. Mary Mercy Hospital and Methodist Hospital for many years. After retirement in 2005, he eventually moved to Englewood, NJ.

Hovanessian continues to be extremely active in Armenian circles. He has been vice chairman of the Diocesan Council of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern) since 2004, and serves on the boards of the American University of Armenia, the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), St. Nercess Seminary, and the Armenian American Health Professional Organization. From 1976 to 1996 he served as the delegate of Sts. Joachim and Anne Armenian Church of Palos Heights, Illinois to the Diocesan Assembly, and was a member of the board of the Armenian Assembly of America in 1980.

His medals and titles include the St. Gregory the Illuminator Medal from Catholicos Karekin I of Holy Echmiadzin in 1998; Prince of Cilicia from the Catholicosate of Cilicia in Antelias in 1982; the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 2000; and a gold medal from the Mkhitar Heratsi Yerevan State Medical University, as well as benefactor of the AGBU, the Contemporary Museum of Art (Chicago), and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) of Indiana.

Elizabeth Kalfayan is director of the New Horizons Symphony Orchestra. She performs as soloist and principal cellist with numerous symphony orchestras and chamber music ensembles throughout the United States and internationally, and holds a master’s degree in Performance from the Manhattan School of Music. Kalfayan is especially known for her performance lectures that present the works and genius of great composers for the violoncello, such as Schumann, Rachmaninov, Beethoven and Shostakovich.

Kalfayan has directed orchestra and chamber programs for the New Jersey public schools. She is founder and director of the Merritt Chamber Music Workshops and has coached chamber music at the Puffin Foundation and the New Jersey Youth Symphony. Her work is featured on a number of CDs.

Datevik, born to a family of musicians in Armenia, is the daughter of folk singer Ophelia Hambartsumian and kamancha player Norair Hovanesian. She made her first recording at the age of 11, and embarked on a life of musical performance and education. She toured Europe, the United States, Asia and Africa, giving solo performances in prominent jazz festivals, and even performed in movies. By 1979 she earned the title of “First Lady of Jazz” in the Soviet Union, which she maintained for nine consecutive years. It was during that time that her solo albums—“Day Dream,” “Concerto For Voice and Orchestra,” and “Doors” — were recorded. Leaving everything behind, Datevik relocated to the United States.

Her first CD in the United States, “Ballads from the Black Sea,” (1997) was the result of a collaboration with pianist Larry Willis and his quartet in the studio of Mapleshade Record Productions. It prompted the president of the latter company, Pierre Sprey, to comment: “A rich new jazz voice of superb musicianship, earthy and passionate and swinging, proves that soul and jazz know no boundaries.” Working with American-Armenian pianist and composer Armen Donelian also had a great impact on Datevik.

Some of Datevik’s greatest accomplishments in he career took place in the last 16 years when she introduced a new genre of music called ethnic jazz. She combined the Armenian folk music of Komitas, Sayat Nova and other sources with traditional jazz music. Consequently she has become a cultural ambassador of Armenia, introducing its heritage throughout the world. Thanks to her work, renowned Russian, American and Australian have adopted this music in their own compositions and concerts. “Listen to My Heart,” and “Stage to Stage” are her latest CDs.

Legendary jazz producer George Avakian has called Datevik “the finest new voice I have heard in a quarter of a century,” while internationally known composer, arranger and pianist Michel Legrand urges, “Listen to the heart of Armenia, listen to Datevik.”

Shoghig Chalian and Betty Salbashian are the chairs of the committee for the banquet, which will take place at the Teaneck Marriott at Glenpoint (100 Frank W. Burr Boulevard). Donations at $125 per person are welcomed. For tickets, call Shoghig at 201-803-0240, Sirvart at 201-739-7775, or Shemavon at 718-344-7489. Information about the event’s prominent keynote speaker and other aspects of the program will be presented in forthcoming articles.