OAKLAND GARDENS, N.Y.—On Sat., April 13, the Armenian Church of the Holy Martyrs and the Holy Martyrs Armenian Day School came together to present an “Evening of Remembrance” to commemorate the 98th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
The musical program was presented in the church sanctuary to an audience of about 150 people. Students Danielle Ashbahian and Nicole Mark warmly opened the evening with a welcome for Fr. Abraham and Yeretzgin Karine Malkhasyan, genocide survivor Charlotte Kechejian, and all guests. As 12 year olds, they shared the fact that although they have been taught about this atrocity, there is still much they do not know and hope to understand as they become adults. They both emphasized the fact that our faith encourages love and forgiveness, and that while sometimes when “bad thing happen it is not easy to forgive,” that is what God wants. Nicole Mark then played the Gomidas piece “Karoon” on the violin with Arthur Ipek accompanying her on the piano. Their performance was delightful and meaningful as they are the representatives of our karoon (spring) for a promising future.
Concert pianist Tanya Gabrielian then played the Mansourian piece, “Nostalgia.” Her performance was sharp and dramatic. The Zvartnotz Quartet, with members Cecee Pantikian, Nikita Morozov, Aleksandr Nazaryan, and David Bakamjian, performed “String Quartet No. 1” by E. Mirzoyan. The beauty of the sanctuary and the power of the performers made the audience feel as if they were in a formal concert hall. Guests were then moved by Gabrielian and the quartet coming together to present Dvorak’s “Piano Quintet No. 2 in A Major.” The emotion that it evoked was so powerful that some guests cried.
As the program came to a close, Fr. Abraham brought back Arthur Ipek, who eloquently recited the poem “In Memory of the Million: Nerga-We Are Present!!” by Jacques S. Hagopian, in Armenian. Der Hayr then proceeded to thank everyone who participated in and attended the event. He especially thanked Charlotte Kechejian, a 100-year-old survivor of the genocide, for being with us, and for being among those who were saved and able to begin a new life in this country. As he continued, he too delivered a message about forgiveness. Short and yet powerful, he repeated these words, “We must forgive, but we must never forget.” Forgiveness comes with our faith and values, and yet we must not forget so that we learn from this horrific time in our history.
With the program over, everyone was invited to Kalustyan Hall for a reception. With delicious foods presented by the event committee, the reception also offered a lovely display of art work by the students of the Holy Martyrs Armenian Day School, the Holy Martyrs Armenian Language School, and the Holy Martyrs Sunday School. The work was representative of the feelings of the students regarding the Armenian Genocide. It was their emotional connection to a significant piece of their heritage. Some of the student-artists were present to answer questions about the work, and many photographs were taken of both the children and the performers.
The donations received before and during the admissino-free concert were accepted in memory of all the victims and survivors of the genocide; they were a special generation who, despite all that they had to endure, showed the world that they could still contribute, and how their faith was a powerful guide in their difficult journey. They were a generation like no other and the music and art presented for this event was to be a way to remember all of them with love and thankfulness.