Proceeds from SARF HyeAID3 Raises Total to $900,000

GLENDALE, Calif.—The most recent Syrian Armenian Relief Fund (SARF) HyeAID3 concert, held on April 29 at the Alex Theatre in Glendale, raised an additional $100,000 for Syrian Armenians in need. Within days of the attack on Kessab on March 21, the SARF sent $100,000 in aid to Armenians displaced from their ancestral homes.

The concert began with a medley of Aram Khachatourian’s music, featuring Armen Aharonian on the piano, accompanied by his orchestra. Artist-broadcast journalist Nune Avetisyan opened the concert by reciting the poem “Gantsrevé Dghas” (“It’s raining, my son,” in reference to crying) by Vahan Tekeyan. Avetisyan delivered the opening remarks, thanking the audience and volunteer artists for supporting SARF, and quoted poet Barouyr Sevag—“We exist, we shall prevail and multiply”—to show the determination of the Armenian people throughout history.

SARF Executive Committee chairperson Zaven Khanjian then addressed the audience with an inspiring message that reaffirmed the enduring quality of the Armenian people despite the genocide and the recent crisis in Syria. Khanjian noted, “What’s happening in Syria is the latest chapter of the annihilation of our race that started with the heinous crime of the Young Turks in the Ottoman Empire a century ago. … I have often found myself weak and desperate, which has led me to search the word of God for hope and consolation. Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teachings, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ There is no doubt that we should be vigilant in the pursuit of justice.”

Khanjian concluded, “At this gathering of solidarity with our brethren in the Armenian Diasporan community of Syria, let us use our knowledge of the truth in our struggle to bring peace and harmony to ourselves, and to the troubled region and life and resurrection to its unjustifiably crucified communities.”

The program continued with alternating performances of songs, instrumental music, and dance, with a dash of poetry. Aline Aroustamian, Gagik Badalyan, Ani Christy, Harut Hagopian, Harout Jeghelian, Arthur Madoyan, Salpy Mailyan, Heibert Sarian, and Samuel Sahakyan sang; Harout Pamboukjian played the guitar and sang; Ruben Harutunian accompanied the Karavan Studio dancers on the duduk; the Dynamic Duo performed; and the Hamazkayin Ani Dance Company and Hamazkayin Barouyr Sevag “Nairi” Dance Group performed several elaborate dance numbers.

Poet Gailag’s (Panosian) lyrics dedicated to Kessab, titled “Geh Lsvin Voghper,” were read by Nune Avetisyan. In honor of renowned composer Konstantine Orbelyan (1928-2014) who recently passed away, Armen Aharonian played one of his compositions on the piano.

As Kessab is one of the last remnants of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, the closing song was aptly “Giligia.” Arthur Hagopian began with an English version, and the rest of the singers joined him with the original Armenian version by Nahabed Rousinian.

Closing remarks were made by Ara Aroyan, vice-chairperson of the SARF Executive Committee, who applauded Louise Mardirossian Gill’s “vision, persistence, and persuasion” as co-chairperson of the HyeAID3 organizing committee. The participating artists were handed special Congressional certificates of appreciation from Rep. Adam Schiff (28th District) and certificates of recognition from California Assembly member Mike Gatto (43rd District).

The program was accomplished with a large crew of volunteers. The program execution relied on the technical skills of the production crew, which included Edgar Nikolian, Neptune Productions, and Val Hovanissian.

The varied styles and subjects of the lyrics and dances from “Adana” to “Yeraz Im Yergir” allowed the audience to feel a range of feelings, from sorrow to joy. One audience member who lost a family member to the fighting in Kessab said, “They sang, we cried.”

Those who have family members caught in the middle of the conflict in Syria are sacrificing whatever they can to financially support them; it is up to the rest of the diaspora to do its part and let those effected by the calamity in Syria know that “We are still here,” as Khanjian said.

Among the audience were representatives of the SARF organizations, including Archbishops Hovnan Derderian and Mousheg Mardirossian, Very Rev. Fr. Andon Atamian, and Rev. Hendrik Shanazarian. In addition to other local clergy, Very Rev. Fr. Tatoul Anoushian of the Armenian Patriarchate attended from Istanbul, Turkey.

The following churches, charities, and organizations came together to form the Syrian Armenian Relief Fund in August 2012: Armenian Catholic Eparchy in North America; Armenian Evangelical Union of North America; Western Diocese of the Armenian Church; Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America; Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU); Armenian Missionary Association of America; Armenian Relief Society (ARS) of Western USA; Armenian Democratic Liberal Party (ADLP); Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Western USA; and Social Democrat Hunchakian Party (SDHP) Western USA.

Ani Keshishian (ARS CEB), Lena Bozoyan (ARS Western USA), Avedik Izmirlian (ARF CC), Krekor Karaguezian (AGBU), Gabriel Moloyan (SDHP), Hagop Nazarian (ADLP), and Esther Tognozzi (Kessab Educational Association of LA) also attended the event. The concert was sponsored by many generous donors, including the general sponsor, Onnik Mehrabian of Glendale and his family.

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