NEW YORK—Sat., Oct. 13 was both a revelation and a celebration, as 30 young people, aged 10-18, wowed an appreciative audience, showcasing their individual musical talents. This was the fourth annual “Direct Help for Armenian People” (DHAP) performance, and this year it was dedicated to the 20thanniversary of Armenia’s membership to the United Nations.
As the recital hall filled with parents and supporters, the anticipation was palpable. Harutun Minasian welcomed the crowd, and ushered in the 20 very young and charming members of the Hamazkayin “Arekag” Choir, garbed in colorful Armenian costumes.
The children performed songs “dedicated to peace in the world,” in particular a soulful rendition of Gomidas’ “Der Voghormia.” The popular song, “Thalvoriki Zavak,” was sung with great pride. Professional musicians Reuven Aristigueta, George Hakko, Eugenia Sarian, Margarita Terzyan, and Diana Vasilyan took part in the presentation. They were led by their longtime artistic director, Vagarshak Ohanyan, who accompanied them on the piano.
The young performers’ instruments of choice ranged from string, wind, voice, and piano, with the latter producing 17 musicians, the largest number. As the performers came on stage, their poise was obvious. Following their individual achievements, each young musician was gifted with a certificate and a check. Among the flutists were Sareen Balian, Armen Kasparian, saxophonist Ara Kasparian, and Lucine Musaelian on viola de gamba. They tackled such demanding compositions as Gluck’s “Orphee et Eurydice,” and Abel’s “Allegro in D Minor”.
The voices of three singers seemed to soar to the heavens: Zovinar Aghavian, Julia Naldjian, and Nicole Nudelman sang such beloved and well-known Armenian favorites as Dolukhanian’s “Dzidzernag,” Gomidas’ “Oror,” and the traditional “Ari Im Sokhak.”
But it was the group of pianists who presented a wide and varied array of composers, including Khachaturyan, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Grieg, Clementi, and Mendelssohn. And these young piano virtuosi presented their works with aplomb; they included Shushan Aghavian, David Antabian, Kristina Ayanian, Aram Balian, Nareg Balian, Jason Cordero, Katia Hajjar, Michael Gilmore, David Hovanisyan, Nicole and Alin Khrimian (in a duet), Daniel Manucharian, Arianna Mesrobian, Kalina Mesrobian, Katherine Sadaniantz, Ani Tchorbajian, and Alex Tiratsuyan.
The musical segment closed with a rousing rendition of Hovanisyan’s “Erebuni-Yerevan,” played on violin by Aren Arakelian, Anthony Degoian, Nicholas Degoian, Griffin Kang, Lily Kljyan, and Nicole Mark, and sung by all the performers as well as the audience, which gave the performers a standing ovation.
At the conclusion of the event, the dedicated and hardworking president and founder of DHAP, Dr. Svetlana Amirkhanian, thanked the parents, grandparents, and jury members who had auditioned dozens of young musicians. She introduced Marina Kovalyov, president of the Russian American Foundation, who has been a supporter of DHAP. Among the devoted members of the organization has been Marina Bagdasarova, vice president of DHAP and executive member of the AYT committee.
Armenia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Garen Nazarian, also offered his congratulations to the young musicians who, he said, “have to organize to preserve our culture.” Among the guests of honor present was Rev. Fr. Bedros Lakissian, pastor of New York’s St. Illuminator’s Armenian Cathedral.
Letters of congratulation were also received from Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Eastern Diocese; Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate of the Eastern Prelacy; the AGBU; Tekeyan Cultural Association; Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society; Armenian American Cultural Association; and former honorary chairs, Metropolitan Opera diva Lucine Amara and noted pianist Sahan Arzruni.