One of the most eagerly anticipated events sponsored by the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) each year is the Spring Concert held at the Armenian Evangelical Church of New York. Benefitting the AMAA’s Summer Camps inArmeniaand Karabagh, the Concert was held on May 15 and featured a varied program of classical and Armenian music.
AMAA Board member Peter Kougasian, Esq. gave the opening remarks. Lucy Janjigian, Board member and National Chair of the AMAA Summer Camp and Christmas Committee, brought greetings. Levon Filian, Executive Director of the AMAA, welcomed everyone and thanked the Armenian Evangelical Church of New York for hosting the event.
The young performers included Natalie Zabel Aroyan, an Armenian-Australian soprano, who was awarded first place in the Opera Foundation New York competition; violinist Nazig Tchakarian, an international soloist who made her Carnegie Hall debut in May, 2008; violist Aleksandr Nazaryan, a graduate of the Julliard School of Music; cellist Benjamin Larsen, an international performer; and pianist Hayk Arsenyan, a native Armenian who is currently on the faculty of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
The afternoon’s program combined classical and Armenian repertoire. The Concert began with Dvorak’s Piano Quartet #1 (opus 23 in D major). The piece proved to be a perfect vehicle to display the precision and artistic nuance of the ensemble. Next were two Chopin piano etudes: opus 10, number 6, a meditative piece that has been described as “full of stifled sorrow,” and opus 10, number 5, also called the “black key etude” because the right-hand part is played entirely on the black keys. Mr. Arsenyan executed both etudes with technical excellence and artistic soulfulness. Ms. Aroyan displayed her vocal gifts with moving interpretations of pieces by Massenet and Catalani. Mr. Arsenyan then displayed his gift of interpretation for contemporary music by performing the modern, polyphonic “Suite for Piano” by Alan Hovhaness.
The conclusion — and apotheosis — of the program were three songs performed a capella by Ms. Aroyan: the familiar spiritual “Park Dank” (Give Thanks), the soulful “Groong” (Crane) by Komidas, and the loving “Ay Vart” by Spendiarian. It would be impossible to select three songs which could so pefectly convey the virtuosity of the soloist, the exceptional accoustics of theNew YorkChurch, or the spirituality of the performance.
In closing, Summer Camp and Christmas Committee Chair Elbiz Baghdikian expressed the mood perfectly by saying that the Concert, like the closing songs themselves, was “about our faith and giving thanks, and about us not knowing about our world, and about our need to love each other. This really spoke about why we are here today – reaching out to each other as good Christians and as human beings.”