Apigian-Kessel: Tekeyan Presents Master Violinist Henrik Karapetyan

He is only 28 but if his Nov. 19, dissertation recital is any evidence, master violinist Henrik Karapetyan’s star is destined to rise to the heavens.

Over 100 people attended the evening event held at the Bloomfield Township Library presented by the Metro Detroit area Tekeyan Cultural Association. Introduction was by Edmond Azadian with additional comments by Nora Azadian.

Henrik is a DMA (doctor of musical arts) candidate in violin performance at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance, the equivalent of a performance Ph.D. which he will receive next spring. He was accepted to do his doctoral studies in 2007 with full tuition and a part-time teaching appointment as a grad student instructor.

The Michigan School of Music is rated as one of the best schools in the country, accepting only two to three violinists a year from scores of applicants. Being selected is an honor.

Karapetyan is a Yerevan native and comes from a family of musicians. Locally, he is the nephew of Anahit Toomajan, wife of Prof. Dicran Toomajan, so he comes with an impressive pedigree. He speaks Armenian, Russian, French, and excellent English.

He began his music lessons at the age of six at the Spendiarian Special Music School of Yerevan. In 1997, he entered the Komitas State Conservatory of Music in the class of distinguished professor S. Akhnazaryan.

He performed as the conservatory’s orchestra concertmaster during the premiere performance of J.S. Bach’s “Matthew’s Passions” in Armenia. He was a semi-finalist in an international competition held in France thereafter traveling through Europe as a member of the “Serenade” Chamber Orchestra.

Karapetyan moved to the U.S. in 2001 as a graduate student, during which time he held the concertmaster’s position with the Plymouth and International Symphony Orchestras. In 2005, he completed a recording project featuring violin-piano miniatures performed by himself and his wife Yevgenya Lavrovskaya.

In 2004, Karapetyan joined the Michigan Opera Theatre as a section violinist. He teaches lessons and master classes, and is a clinician and freelancer in the Detroit area. As the violinist of the “Luminare” duo, he performs close to 100 shows annually together with his wife.

His concert “Medieval Voices—Modern Reflections” consisted of modern music compositions inspired by the Armenian religious music tradition, including works by Sharafyan, Alan Hovhaness, Aghajanyan, and Baghdasaryan. Two world premieres were played at the concert, one featuring a piece by Karapetyan—the very exciting “The Birth of Vahakn”—and a piano trio by Daniel Thomas Davis commissioned for the occasion.

Karapetyan gives his good, non-Armenian friend Davis (the composer of “Diary of Scattering”) high marks as an outstanding composer of our time. Perhaps a first, Davis’s “Scattering” was inspired by the Armenian religious tradition. His inspiration was the history of the Armenians—including the genocide and the resulting diaspora—evoking great emotion with his lovely composition. My conversation with Davis revealed he had a friendship with a Watertown, Mass. Armenian. That influence resulted in composing a magnificent tribute to Armenians everywhere.

Credit must be give to Karapetyan. Amongst his ambitions is to bring Armenian music widely to non-Armenian audiences, accomplishing that by including non-Armenians in the process as performers and composers, as was done tonight.

Karapetyan is in exceptional company with the likes of Komitas, Tahmizyan, Atayan, and Kooshnarian, all of whom consider Armenian religious music as the purest expression of true Armenian spirit and character. Appropriately, Karapetyan has a photo of himself with Komitas’s statue, which stands in downtown Detroit on Jefferson Ave.

For a year, the master violinist was the director of the choir at St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church of Dearborn.

The future for Henrik Karapetyan? He sees himself comfortable in an academic environment of a college or university where he can simultaneously teach and perform. In his collaboration with Davis, Karapetyan says, “I have been lucky to have him in my project. My intention is to bring this to wider audiences and I hope to get other Armenian communities nationwide interested in it.”

Henrik and Yevgenya Karapetyan have a son and reside in Rochester. As if his agenda were not ambitious enough, his other interests include chess, reading, and writing. Not only is he a violinist of accomplishment, he is also a prize winner of the Armenian National Competition of Young Writers in 1996. He was been blessed with many talents.

Armenian communities alert: If you want to avail youselves of Henrik Karapetyan’s project and enlighten others about beautiful Armenian music, do yourselves a favor, contact him at [email protected].


Betty Apigian-Kessel

Betty (Serpouhie) Apigian Kessel was born in Pontiac, Mich. Together with her husband, Robert Kessel, she was the proprietor of Woodward Market in Pontiac and has two sons, Bradley and Brant Kessel. She belonged to the St. Sarkis Ladies Guild for 12 years, serving as secretary for many of those years. During the aftermath of the earthquake in Armenia in 1988, the Detroit community selected her to be the English-language secretary and she happily dedicated her efforts to help the earthquake victims. She has a column in the Armenian Weekly entitled “Michigan High Beat.”

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