By Karina Halajian
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — This year’s Christmas Concert of the renowned Erevan Choral Society and Orchestra of the Holy Trinity Armenian Church of Greater Boston, held on Sunday, December 11, 2016, in the sanctuary, was dedicated to the 25th anniversary of Armenia’s independence and the 50th anniversary of the Erevan Choral Society.
Established in 1966, by Father Oshagan Minassian and directed by composer Konstantin Petrossian since 2009, this group — unique in the Diaspora — carries out great work in the advocacy of Armenian music. Thanks to a long-standing creative connection to Armenia’s composers and performers, many pieces by Armenian composers have been premiered and made famous overseas by the Erevan Choral Society.
The evening began with welcome remarks by Father Vasken A. Kouzouian, pastor of Holy Trinity Armenian Church, who stated that the church was honored by the presence of Cambridge Mayor E. Denise Simmons. Simmons praised the activities of the Choral Society and Orchestra, and noted the importance of preserving the cultural heritage of Armenia. Following her remarks, Kouzouian asked the gathered crowd to partake in a special collection for the victims of the recent horrible fire in Cambridge that left 137 people homeless.
“In this holy season of Christmas,” he stated, “let us honor our Lord by helping those now left homeless by tragedy.” The group also received congratulatory letters from Yerevan Mayor Taron Margaryan, Republic of Armenia Minister of Culture Armen Amiryan, Republic of Armenia Minister of the Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan, and President of Armenia’s Composers’ Union Aram Satian.
As a special treat for the opening portion of the musical program, Harvard University’s The Callbacks a cappella group, featuring Lena and Alex Afeyan, magnificently performed a series of Christmas Carols.
Erevan Choral Society and Orchestra’s annual holiday program always presents a diverse set. This year’s concert was no different. The program included New Year’s and Christmas spirituals, and works by both Western composers, such as Vivaldi and Handel, as well as Armenian composers, including Komitas, Edgar Hovhannisyan, Arno Babajanian, Levon Chaushyan, Martin Vartazaryan, and Melik Mavisakalyan. Along with these works, there were two premieres: Aram Satian’s “Holy Fatherland” and “A Word to the Generations” by Rita Sargsyan – both warmly received by the audience. Soloists Vagharshak Ohanyan, bass-baritone, and Kate Norigian, soprano, performed a series of songs showcasing their high artistic caliber. The Holy Trinity Church’s Armenian School students’ poem recitations were performed beautifully, as well.
The entire concert was uplifting, and the Erevan Choral Society presented a varied and complex program brilliantly. This was made possible thanks to the creative work of Artistic Director and Conductor Konstantin Petrossian, pianist Nune Hakobyan, and each member of the Choral Society who had worked on this program for several months.
Following the concert, there was a festive reception to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Choral Society in the Charles and Nevart Talanian Cultural Hall. In his speech, Master of Ceremonies Berj Chekijian paid tribute to the founder of the Erevan Choral Society, Father Oshagan Minassian, who dedicated his entire life to serving the arts. Kouzouian thanked all members of the Choral Society for their many years of work, and on behalf of the church presented commemorative gifts to Nancy Moscofian and Alice Palanjian who have been active members of the choir since its founding.
Konstantin Petrossian thanked all members, friends, and sponsors of the Choral Society and Orchestra, and invited new members to join the group. A slideshow of the choir’s history, masterfully prepared by Vatche Der Torossian, closed the evening. Notably, artist Sossy Nercessian created a mural and logos commemorating the Choral Society’s 50th anniversary.
As an added component to the evening, an exhibit of paintings in oil and watercolor by talented artist Sona Manoukian was on display during the reception.
“The evening was a tribute to Fr. Oshagan,” stated Kouzouian, “and to all those who have been a part of the Erevan Choral Society over the half century as well as all who have contributed to make this beautiful tradition a reality.”