By Kevork Keushkerian
LOS ANGELES — Under the auspices of the Armenian General Benevolent Union’s Western District Committee, Krikor Satamian Theater Group organized a Jubilee Celebration and Concert dedicated to composer Armen Mantagunian’s 60 years of creative career.
Armen Mantagunian was born in 1934, in Yerevan, Armenia. In 1942, he was admitted to the Choreography Dance School in Yerevan and in 1949, he was admitted to the renowned Romanos Melikian Music College in Yerevan.
In 1959, he married Araksi and in 1960, they had a son named Armen Jr. In 1961, he was invited to join the Folk Art Society of the Republic of Soviet Armenia. In 1974, he immigrated to the United States and settled in Glendale, where he continues to compose and create.
Armen Mantagunian has composed two symphonies, a Ballet in 3 acts (Maneh and Aysheh), a sonata for piano, as well as an array of musical albums, arrangements, and orchestrations from 1971-2011.
This unique celebration took place on Saturday, September 19, at the Paznaz Auditorium in Pasadena. The masters of ceremony were the professional duo: Nune Avedisian and Haroutune Foudoulian.
It started with the opening remarks of Dr. Krikor Simonian, chairman of Satamian Theater Group, who warmly welcomed everybody. He said that the 80-year-old Maestro still charms everyone with his well-known songs and melodies. He concluded his remarks by wishing him a healthy life ahead and continued success in the service of Armenian cultural preservation.
The first order of business was the awarding of St. Sahag-St. Mesrob medal, bestowed upon him by Karekin II, Catholicos of all Armenians. The Encyclical was read by Very Rev. Dajad Yardemian, representing Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America.
Many well-known artists participated in the concert, singing a variety of Mantagunian’s famous songs and playing his sweet melodies. Pianist Armen Aharonian and violinist Merujan Markarian mesmerized the audience with their breathtaking performances. Some of the songs were accompanied by recitations, while others were augmented by dances performed by the “Zvartnots” Dance Ensemble. Thus, the evening proved to be an excellent musical extravaganza, well-orchestrated by a truly professional group of performing artists.
Throughout the ceremony, several medals were presented to the Honoree by the Government of Armenia. The Krikor Naregatsi Medal was awarded by the Ministry of Culture, the Komitas Medal was awarded by the Ministry of the Diaspora, and a letter of appreciation was sent by Aram Satian, the president of the Union of Composers of Armenia.
Furthermore, a commendation from the City of Glendale was presented by Mayor Ara Najarian. The Armenian General Benevolent Union also presented a medal, while its troupe of resident actors, the Satamian Theater Group, presented a plaque.
Touched by all these honors bestowed upon him, Mantagunian took to the podium at the end of the concert and warmly thanked everyone involved in the organization of this once in a lifetime celebration, the memory of which will long linger in the hearts and souls of the audience.