Art and Culture Mark Anniversary of Armenia

Composer and pianist Karen Hakobyan

Composer and pianist Karen Hakobyan

By Marylynda Bozian-Cruickshank

Special to the Mirror-Spectator

NEW YORK — On Wednesday, September 21, a celebratory event for all Armenians in the Tri-State area took place at St. Vartan Cathedral in honor of the 25th anniversary of the independence of Armenia.

Under the auspices of Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Eastern Armenian Church of America, the event culminated with an art exhibit, prayer and concert. Attending the celebrations was the evening’s guest of honor, Armenia’s Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian. Also present were dignitaries, Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan and Armenia’s Ambassador to the United Nations Zohrab Mnatsakanian, as well as members and representatives from more than 15 Armenian organizations.

The evening commenced with the art exhibit titled “25 years, 25 Artists,” which was curated by art collector and philanthropist Vicki Shoghag Hovanessian. The pieces she had chosen showcased some of the most noted contemporary Armenian artists from around the world, from private collections. Aside from her and her husband, Dr. Raffy Hovanessian, other collectors who shared their paintings with viewers were Andreas Roubian, Nazar and Artemis Nazarian, Hagop Vartivarian, the Tekian family and Paul Nakian.

“The artist is the speaker and the collector is the listener. The artist is the sender of the cultural message and the collector is the receiver of that cultural message, their commitment to the power of art goes hand in hand,” Vicki Shoghag Hovanessian said.

Next the guests moved upstairs to the cathedral for the prayer and concert, which was officiated by Archbishop Khajag Barsamian and the participation of the St. Vartan Choir, conducted by Khoren Mekanejian.

After the prayer, the concert portion of the program commenced with the singing of the National Anthems, and a music program organized by Sahan Arzruni.

The program started with Arzruni on piano, playing Khachaturian’s, Sonatina, masterfully. Then came 12-year-old Laura Navasardian on cello, playing Impromptu by Harutyunyan, and Moses variation by Paganini, with skill and heart-felt expressiveness. Narek Arutyunian on clarinet performed Nocturne by Khachaturyan, and Spanish Caprice by Olenchik. He is the winner of the 2010 Young Concert Artists’ Competition, and graduated in 2015 from the Juilliard School of Music. The Washington Post refers to Arutyunian, as a artist  who “reaches passionate depths with seemingly effortless technical prowess and beguiling sensitivity.”

The highlight of the program, was the astounding tenor, Yeghishe Manucharian, who sang Groung, Andouni and Hayastan, all by Komitas. He captivated the audience in the Cathedral, note after note, his voice echoing pure strength, yet sweet and emotional.

Manucharyan made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 2011 singing Eustazio in Armida, sharing the stage with Opera Diva, Renee Fleming.

After the conclusion of the music program, Minister of Foreign Affairs Eduard Nalbandian spoke about the diaspora, and thanked all those present and watching via live stream, “You have motherland Armenia in your thoughts and heart. Each of us is a part of Armenia, with a long and unforgettable history, which gives all of us the responsibility to carry on what we have inherited.”

In his final remarks, Barsamian spoke about how the dream of an Independent Armenia became a reality. “Tonight marked the quarter-century of that dream. Every person from every walk of life, in the homeland and in the diaspora, have worked, sacrificed, persevered, to bring us to this point.” Barsamian said.

The guests that were present for the festivities afterwards were invited to the Kavookjian Hall for a champagne reception.

The benefactors for the program were Nazar and Artemis Nazarian.