Making Dreams Come True for Young Musicians


By Alin K. Gregorian

Mirror-Spectator Staff

LEXINGTON, Mass. — Anna and Noubar Afeyan hosted a benefit gala reception and recital at their home on October 26, for the YerazArt Foundation.

The program featured 13-year old violin prodigy Diana Adamyan from Armenia. Adamyan is the 2012 winner of the Silver Nutcracker at the Nutcracker International TV Contest for Young Musicians. She had participated in the Moscow-based competition with the help of YerazArt Foundation.

Noubar Afeyan and Raffi Festekjian founded the non-profit YerazArt several years ago in order to help young musicians in Armenia. Through the years, the group has adapted its goals and activities in order to help with the most urgent needs for young musicians in Armenia. Whereas in previous years a group of young musicians would be brought to tour the US, now the foundation helps musicians, donates instruments to music schools both in Yerevan and remote areas and offers some financial support to music teachers in Armenia in the process.

YerazArt Executive Board Chair Nicole Babikian Hajjar spoke about the mission of YerazArt at the event.

“Our mission is twofold. At the micro level, we help young and talented musicians in Armenia seize opportunities to be the best they can. This can mean anything from being able to participate in an international competition abroad, being able to attend a priceless master class with a visiting artist or simply being able to play on a better instrument,” she said.

In addition to these efforts, the group also assists music schools especially in more remote areas in Armenia — such as Kapan, Aparan, Talin and Gumri — by donating instruments to them and helping pay the salaries of music teachers, Hajjar noted.

“We also strive to revive some disciplines that are in danger of extinction for the lack of available and quality instruments,” she added. One such case is the oboe.

Both Hajjar and Anna Afeyan in their comments spoke about the launching of a Sistema music program in Armenia. Sistema was originally founded in Venezuela 40 years ago, targeting the most economically and socially vulnerable children and teaching them to play musical instruments in orchestras. The goal has been not only to teach the children music but also to help them think collaboratively in an orchestra setting.

“At a time when the world becomes ever more global but ever more fractured, it is all the more befitting to be reminded of the role of music as a universal language and a universal connector,” Hajjar said.

Hajjar noted that the evening had raised enough funds to cover the entire budget for the upcoming year in Armenia.

After cocktails and dinner, Adamyan, accompanied on the piano by local pianist, Nune Hakobyan, played Keler Tsoler by Komitas, and arranged by Dumbayeve; Meditation by Jules Massenet, two pieces by Fritz Kreisler and La Ronde de Lutins, by Antonio Bazzini. After the thunderous applause that greeted the performance, they played Groong, by Komitas and arranged by Aslamazyan.

The 13-year-old Adamyan was born into a musical family; both her parents are violinists with the National Chamber Orchestra of Armenia, with her father the orchestra’s concertmaster.

Adamyan seemed transported to another realm during the performance. Gone was the shy young girl and in her place stood a mature musician, fully in command of a large audience.

Hakobyan, praising the young violinist, said, “she creates a unique world of sounds. She will go very far. She has natural talent. We will hear big things about her. She has such technique, feeling and musicality.”

Anna Afeyan summed up what many in the audience thought: “It was a pleasure to listen to her. We shared a special moment. She has a natural musicality.”

Sylvie Zakarian, a YerazArt board member and a classically-trained percussionist and marimba player, praised Adamyan’s technical achievement. “She touched everyone. It was not cliché,” she said. “You could clearly see she was enjoying it.”

Noubar Afeyan, adding his voice in thanking the guests for supporting YerazArt, noted that the piano played by Hakobyan had been played by many hands, both advanced and beginner, since it had originally belonged to his mother, who had taught piano in Beirut.

For more information on the organization, visit www.yerazart.org