By Melanya Badalyan
YEREVAN (Azg) – This year the annual Vahan Tekeyan Awards Ceremony of the Tekeyan Cultural Association (TCA) took place on April 26 at the Tekeyan Center, during a period of crisis and uncertainty in Yerevan. As Hravard Hakobyan, chair of the TCA art awards committee, said, the fact that it did indeed occur during this difficult period was unexpected. These awards, which have long been established in Armenia and the diaspora, are the most prestigious ones after the series of Armenian state awards, and are eagerly awaited in intellectual circles.
The ceremony began with a speech of welcome by Rouben Mirzakhanian, president of the TCA of Armenia. He declared that over the past twenty years following the independence of Armenia, TCA has awarded over $220,000 (American dollars) in order to encourage cultural life in Armenia. Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Vache Gabrielyan then spoke words of encouragement.
Traditionally, the first thing that takes place as part of the formal awards ceremony is the announcement of the avant-garde in literature. Edmond Azadian, the chairman of the literature committee, instead shared his concerns about the present crisis and announced that the Tekeyan Cultural Association would donate fifty thousand dollars to the families of wounded or deceased soldiers. He declared that it was necessary to continue to raise money for such purposes.
Then, going on to the literary sphere, he noted how few the works were compared to last year. Davit Hovhannes won the TCA Shake Ghazarian award for literature for his collection of poems titled Tagnapner [Crises]. Azadian said the poet has found a unique form and style to express through poetry some of the shadowy, crude or ugly aspects of life. He praised Hovhannes’s way of creating words.
Literary critic Yervand Ter-Khachatryan received an award for the preparation of three volumes on the poet Indra (Diran Chrakian). Azadian spoke at length about Ter-Khachatryan’s efforts over the years for the presentation and preservation of Western Armenian literary values. Their loss, Azadian declared, would be the loss of a world-level literature the heir of which is today’s Armenia. Ter-Khachatryan in turn spoke about the high quality of Indra’s work. He was one of the greatest writers in Armenian, he said.
Paravon Mirzoyan was then given the TCA Shake Ghazarian Award for art for his “Patarag” [Mass] painting. Chairman of the art committee Hakobyan found a reflection of the bitter realities of these days of war in this work. Mirzoyan, moved, related the origins of this painting and said he would donate the painting to the museum of the Mother See of Echmiadzin. He noted that he had promised last year to donate another painting bearing the same name to the museum of the Great House of Cilicia in Antelias.
Mher Navoyan, chairman of the music awards committee, announced that Robert Amirkhanyan was this year’s winner for his cantata “Life of the Poet.” He described this song as a type of academic creation. It was based on the poetry of Missak Manouchian, and dealt with the fate of an Armenian man who escaped the Genocide and found shelter in France only to have to resist another catastrophe during World War II. The composer was tormented by the idea that it was the Genocide which prevented Manouchian from being a hero on his native soil. He found parallels in the heroic lives of present-day Armenian fighters who disdained death in order to defend the road to their homes.
Finally, the Ara-Maral Award of Silva Der Stepanian for works intended for children was presented by Astghik Gevorgyan. The circus program of the Mother See of Echmiadzin and the Armenian General Benevolent Union Nor Nork Armenian Children’s Center was the winner. Hakob Avetikyan, chairman of this award committee, was in Egypt to participate in the centennial of the newspaper Arev, but had left a statement hoping for a revival in the art of the Armenian circus.
Aida Andreasyan, director of the Children’s Center, accepted the prize with gratitude.
The awards ceremony was enlivened by the musical performances of the National Ensemble of Musical Instruments, under the leadership of Norayr Davtyan.
(The above is a summary translated version of the Armenian original.)