St. Vartan Cathedral Hosts a Delightful Evening of Classical Music

NEW YORK—St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral was aglow on Saturday evening, Oct. 17, with enchanting musical selections by three artists originally from Armenia. They included two leading soloists of the St. Vartan Cathedral Choir, mezzo soprano Hasmik Meikhanedjian and soprano Anahit Zakaryan, and pianist-composer Hayk Arsenyan.

With more than 200 in attendance, the first half of the program featured a group of well-known Armenian songs, with the second half focusing on international classical composers, and on and off Broadway popular favorites.

The concert began with Komitas’ “Chinar es,” a classical love song, sung with heightened emotion by the two singers. It was followed by the beautiful “Parandzem’s Aria from Arshak II,” a powerful tribute by a wife to her kind and loving husband, sung passionately by Meikhanedjian.

Kanachian’s “Oror,” a musical prayer by a mother asking God to protect her child, has always been a beloved favorite, and was sung with a bell-like, heartfelt voice by Zakaryan. Another all-time favorite was Meikhanedjian’s stirring rendering of Melikian’s “Vart” with its varied moods, with the rose pleading to not pluck it, and then expressing regret after it has been picked.

Yerk Dzovin” (Song of the Sea) was an impressive ballad composed by St. Vartan Cathedral choir director Maestro Khoren Mekanejian at age 26, and received a powerful interpretation by Meikhanedjian, who commented that it had melted into her being when she first heard it.

Tigranian’s “Finale” from the “Anoush” opera reflected the passion of Anoush who, already crazed, jumps off the rocks into the sea. Zakaryan intensely relayed her desperation and anguish.

Noted pianist-composer Hayk Arsenyan, who accompanied the singers throughout the concert, offered a nuance-filled performance of “Three Preludes” (Op. 32) by Rachmaninoff, displaying his technical and interpretative virtuosity, and playing these demanding works with integrity.

Among the well-known opera favorites sung were two that received dramatic and colorful performances: Puccini’s “Vissi d’Arte” from “Tosca” by Zakaryan, and Bizet’s “Gypsy Song” from “Carmen” by Meikhanedjian, who strode onto the stage with the message that every woman is Carmen.

Several popular Neapolitan songs and Broadway favorites sung with flair by the two singers ended the concert, and brought the audience to its feet in a standing ovation, with several flowers bouquets showered on the three artists.

Archbishop Yeghishe Gizirian paid tribute to the singers and pianist, and expressed appreciation to Maestro Mekanejian; the Very Rev. Mamigon Kiledjian, the dean of St. Vartan Cathedral, which sponsored the concert; and the generosity of the Dadourian Family Foundation, which made the concert possible in memory of the late Haig Dadourian.

Hasmik Meikhanedjian is a graduate of \ the Armenian State Pedagogical University and Yerevan’s State Conservatory, in both music and conducting. She has been a soloist with the State Radio and TV Chamber Choir of Armenia, and has performed in festivals and concerts throughout Europe, the former Soviet Union, and in the New York metropolitan area.

Anahit Zakaryan is a graduate of Armenia’s State Music Conservatory, and has been a soloist at the Armenian State Opera, the Academy Choir of Armenia, and the Armenian Female Choir, and was one of the founders of the Armenian Youth Opera Theater. She has performed throughout the Soviet Union, and Europe, and in the New York metropolitan area.

Pianist-composer Hayk Arsenyan debuted with the Armenian National Philharmonic Orchestra at age 11, and was a soloist with the Radio France National Philharmonic Orchestra at age 17. Since then, he has performed in recitals in the United States, Canada, the Soviet Union, Europe, South America, and the Middle East. He is an avid explorer of various experimental projects with dance, drama, and the visual arts. Currently he teaches at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and is a member of the French Society of Authors and Composers, with two collections of his original works published in Paris.

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