By Joyce Abdulian
If the music of heaven could be heard on earth, the LARK Musical Society and the Armenian Missionary Association of America’s (AMAA) presentation of Johann Sebastian Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, was a joyous representation of what awaits us.
At the First United Methodist Church of Glendale, CA, the LARK Musical Society and the AMAA once again joined forces, on Sunday, March 13, 2016, to present one of the world’s greatest masterpieces —St. Matthew Passion, under the direction of beloved Maestro Vatsche Barsoumian. Maestro Barsoumian explained: Through J.S. Bach’s work, written almost 300 years ago, we can still partake in and relive the tribulations and passion of our Lord, who undertook all torture and even death for the sake of our personal spiritual salvation.
As the voices of the choir soared, the soloists sang, and the orchestra performed, the overflow audience abandoned themselves to the music of Bach and the depiction of Christ’s great sacrifice. Each scene matched with its response, either chorally or individually by a soloist, rendered in beautiful music, created a whole that at the end was an undeniably humbling Lenten experience. Super-titles in German, Armenian and English allowed for a close following of the Oratorio, to better understand each moment of Christ’s passion.
Distinguished vocal soloists were: David Plaster, tenor, as the Evangelist; Steve Pence, bass, as Jesus; Shoushik Barsoumian, soprano; Garineh Avakian and Victoria Avetisyan, altos; Yeghishe Manucharyan, tenor; and Scott Graff and Vincent Robles, basses. Also notable were the impressive instrumental soloists Armen DerKevorkian and Sarkis Gyurgchyan, violins; Salpi Kerkonian, flute; Michelle Forrest, oboe; and Yevgeni Tonkha, cello. Deserving special notice were Edward Murray, organ and Victoria Simonian, cembalo, who throughout the piece served as an underlying unifying force for the whole ensemble.
During the intermission, a Lenten meal was served to over 500 guests, who greatly enjoyed this time of fellowship.
Andranik Andy Torosyan, Chairman of LARK Musical Society, stated: Let us praise God for bringing together the AMAA and the LARK Musical Society to break bread during this Lenten season and share in the message of Jesus through the work of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. Projects like these will help strengthen our community, encouraging us to aspire to a higher understanding of life and walk the path intended for us.
Reflecting on the past 20 years of AMAA/LARK collaboration, Zaven Khanjian, AMAA Executive Director/CEO said: The AMAA rejoices in its annual partnership with the LARK Musical Society in the over two decades long presentation of spring sacred music concerts, elevating human souls from its earthly fetters to a heavenly emancipation, paid for by the blood shed by our Savior Jesus Christ. We are thankful for the gracious support of the community that makes every one of these events ever excitingly memorable and touching.