Cellist Hakhnazaryan Performs Recital to Benefit Kessab Victims

NEWTON, Mass. — The plight of displaced Armenians from the terrorized region of historical Kessab in Syria has generated a public outcry in the Armenian communities worldwide. Thousands took to the streets from Yerevan to Paris to Boston in protest of the re-victimization of the descendants of the Armenian genocide, who saw armed bandits ransack their homes and desecrate their churches.

The humanitarian crisis in Syria has prompted musicians of Armenian descent to take action as well. Last year, several benefit concerns were organized, raising money for the Syrian Armenian Relief Fund.

On Saturday, April 5, while transiting through Boston, the versatile and charismatic cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan performed a benefit recital at the Carriage House of Violins in Newton. With help from the Armenia Fund, the proprietors Mr. and Mrs. Adam Johnson and staff member Armenouhi Hovagimyan who provided the venue free of charge, the event drew a diverse, capacity audience of 60 to the cozy concert room tucked away in roomful of violins and colorful cello cases.

Hakhnazaryan’s brief but eloquent opening remarks made a complex geopolitical chess game’s consequences all too clear: there were 700 displaced families in immediate need for shelter and other basic necessities.

In an informal setting where each work was announced before the performance, Hakhnazaryan drew the most emphatic, soulful and expressive sounds possible from his instrument. There were the lamentations of Gabriel Faure’s Elegy juxtaposed with the emotional outbursts and protests of Shostakovich’s powerful Sonata for Cello and Piano, the introspective Vocalise by Rachmaninoff and the delicate but deceivingly difficult Nocturne and Pezzo Capriccioso. In short, all giants of the musical world were summoned to decry man’s inhumanity to man, and to convey a message of solidarity with the people of Kessab.

The Armenian portion of the program, which ended the hour-long concert, featured a touching rendition of a set of five folk songs by Komitas transcribed for cello and piano by Hakhnazaryan; Lullaby by Khachatourian; the sonata for solo cello by Adam Khudoyan (composed in memory of the victims of the 1915 Genocide), and the lively Barcarole by Ayvazyan, which was the evening’s novelty for this listener. Through the entire concert, French pianist Yannick Rafalimanana made a strong impression with efficient, communicative collaboration with Hakhnazaryan.

The Boston community is in preparation stages for another benefit concert for Kessab in coming weeks.