Amo Sits Down with Onnik Dinkjian Ahead of AYF Olympics 2019

Labor Day weekend would be incomplete without a fan favorite: the seamless sounds of the legendary Onnik Dinkjian. Onnik and an All Star lineup will be performing at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare on September 1, 2019 during the AYF Olympics.

We cannot fathom an Olympic Sunday dance without this great group of multi-generational family men who have brought tradition to life. They are siblings: blood relatives, uncles, fathers, grandfathers and brothers through music.  The following is Amo’s interview with Onnik about the upcoming long weekend festivities. 

Amo: What do you feel like when you perform on stage specifically during AYF Olympics?  

Onnik Dinkjian: I feel very proud to witness the enthusiasm of all those young people dancing in unison, with their eyes glowing and their faces smiling. I have been cherishing these visions at the AYF Olympics for 73 years, starting in 1946 at Hartford. 

Amo: What are your thoughts on the future of Armenian musicians? 

Onnik Dinkjian: They’re here. I see that it is going to continue. I’m happy to say that the contributions we old timers made to our Armenian American culture will not be in vain. The future looks very promising with some young, talented musicians, including oud, clarinet, dumbeg, keyboard and guitar players, as well as singers. 

Amo: Please give us some words of inspiration, directed specifically to the youth of today.

Onnik Dinkjian: Be proud of your heritage. Be proud to be Armenian. Keep that feeling alive amongst yourselves. 

Amo: What do you marvel at today’s Armenian youth? 

Onnik Dinkjian: I marvel at the youth’s enthusiasm and dedication to being Armenian. They seem to have understood and appreciated the value of their identity,   given to them by their ancestors through so much sacrifice. There was a time I feared we would be the last generation of Armenians, but I see now that it will continue. I hope it will never end.

Amo: What is your favorite Armenian song you sing and why?

Onnik Dinkjian: There are so many Armenian songs that touch our hearts. It’s hard to choose one. However, I would say that Dele Yaman reminds us of our entire history, of all the generations, of our land, of our culture. Indeed, when I sing it, even at the AYF Olympics, I’m proud to say that the youth stop and listen to the words, and seem to understand the depth of its message. Also, for pure happiness, I enjoy singing Hoy Nazan (also known as Shooshig Mooshig), which I am proud to have composed.  

Amo: What is your favorite Armenian singer from the past and why? 

I love Hovaness Badalian and especially Roupen Matevosian. Their interpretations of Armenian songs are absolutely unique and have touched me deeply. 

Amo: Tell us a little bit about the members of the All-Stars… 

Hachig Kazarian – a fantastic, educated musician who developed an Armenian clarinet style which has influenced virtually every Armenian who has played the clarinet since. 

Raffi Massoyan – one of the young musicians with whom I have been proud to share the stage. He has been making a name for himself as an extremely talented multi-instrumentalist. 

Steve Vosbikian, Jr. – another talented young musician, coming from a legendary musical family, he’s a wonderful entertainer. 

Ara Dinkjian – He is the complete Armenian musician, and my son. 

Jim Kzirian – Jim’s presence on-stage makes everyone hankeest (comfortable), and his dumbeg playing (and singing) never fail to gel the musicians together.

Michael Kazarian – Also coming from a musical family (Hachig’s son), is one of this new generation of Armenian musicians who make me so proud. 

Please join us “in the middle” – Chicago – for the Olympics Dance Sunday night to witness another spirited performance by Onnik Dinkjian. 

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Founded in 1933, The Armenian Youth Federation is an international, non-profit, youth organization of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF). The AYF-YOARF Eastern United States stands on five pillars that guide its central activities and initiatives: Educational, Hai Tahd, Social, Athletic and Cultural. The AYF also promotes a fraternal attitude of respect for ideas and individuals amongst its membership. Unity and cooperation are essential traits that allow members of the organization to work together to realize the AYF’s objectives.

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