PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The “Tribute to Armenia” heralding the 25th anniversary of Armenia’s independence, sponsored by the Cultural Committee of Sts. Sahag and Mesrob Armenian Church, Providence, was held on Saturday, October 22, at the Egavian Cultural Center.
The special program featured the guest speaker Tigran Samvelian, Armenia’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, New York. The renowned vocal group The Bostonians presented “Our Favorite Armenian Songs” as well as “American Songs of Hope and Inspiration” during their premiere performance in Rhode Island.
Konstantin Petrossian, director/chairperson of the Cultural Committee, who arranged the “Tribute to Armenia,” welcomed the capacity audience. He especially noted the attendance of Samvelian who had driven from New York to join in the festivities. Petrossian mentioned that the “Bostonians,” having no Armenian roots, would dazzle the audience with their interpretation of popular songs by Armenian composers.
Parish Council Chairperson Joyce Avedisian thanked Petrossian for his efforts in bringing this special event for the benefit of the Greater Rhode Island Armenian community.
Sts. Sahag and Mesrob Armenian Church’s Rev. Shnork Souin welcomed the crowd representing the Armenian parishes in Rhode Island. Clergymen present were Archpriest Gomidas Baghsarian and his wife Joanna, and Rev. Kapriel Nazarian and his wife Debra, from St. Vartanantz Armenian Church in Providence, as well as Rev. Hagop Manjelikian, and his wife Gohar, of the Armenian Evangelical Church in Cranston. He thanked the evening’s benefactors for their support in helping to make this milestone Anniversary Program possible. He especially noted the efforts of Petrossian and the entire Cultural Committee, whose dedication and hard work culminated in the evening’s success.
The Bostonians repertory company featured well-known vocal artists Tamara Ryan, Roselin Osser, Michael Calmés and Phillip Lima. They were accompanied by virtuoso pianist William Merrill. They have all performed in the United States and abroad in many countries in Europe as well as the Far East.
The audience was exhilarated by their rendering of the popular songs by Armenian composers including Maestro’s arrangement of “Noubar-Noubar” for the quartet and ending with his beloved song Hayastan. The second half of the program consisted of American “Songs of Hope and Inspiration” beginning with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s You’ll Never Walk Alone from the musical “Carousel,” through the well-known song from “The Sound of Music,” Climb Every Mountain. Captivating the audience was Irving Berlin and Emma Lazarus’ “Give me your tired, your poor…” which comes from the inscription on the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor.
A standing ovation by the appreciative audience followed the Bostonians’ stunning performance.
Parish Council Chairperson Joyce Avedisian welcomed Ambassador Samvelian and invited him to speak. He mentioned his gratitude in being part of this dynamic program and spoke eloquently about Armenia’s rebirth and the progress the country has seen in its short span of 25 years. He especially thanked the Diaspora for their continuous support of Armenian causes which helps sustain our Armenian heritage.
Samvelian was born in Yerevan and graduated from the Law Department, Yerevan State University. In 2000, he attended the Fletcher School of Diplomacy and Law at Tufts University in Medford, MA, taking a special course for Armenian Diplomats. Following this he was made First Secretary, Permanent Mission of Armenia to the United Nations, Geneva, Switzerland. He has held many posts in international affairs for the Armenian government and is the author of a number of articles on International Law and International Relations.
Taking time out from her busy campaign, Katherine Kazarian, state representative from East Providence, offered remarks as a proud Armenian participating in the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Republic of Armenia in her home state of Rhode Island. Katherine was instrumental in the passage of a bill in the Rhode Island State House making it mandatory to include the Holocaust and the Genocide, referring to the Armenian Genocide and others in the State’s middle and high schools.
Souin concluded the Program by commending the Rhode Island Armenian community for their support of Armenia through the early years of the Republic to the present in numerous humanitarian and benevolent programs. He also called attention to Rhode Island being on the side of the Armenian community, whether at the local, city or State levels and thanked them for their support.
The evening ended with Souin leading the audience in a recitation of the Hayr Mer.
Refreshments were served by the Cultural Committee which gave the participants and the spectators time to mingle.
Marilyn J. Woloohojian