The Italian Academy at Columbia University was a packed house on the evening of April 25, with 200 guests in attendance for a musical tribute to Armenian composers of the Ottoman Empire in Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, hosted by the AGBU Performing Arts Department. Some of the rarely performed compositions were introduced to a New York City audience for the very first time at the event.
The event attracted an enthusiastic and diverse audience, thanks to the participation of co-sponsors Armenian Society of Columbia University and, the Armenian Center at Columbia University, as well AGBU University Outreach, who helped draw such a diverse group.
Dr. Hayk Arsenyan, the evening’s artistic director and MC, delivered the opening remarks. Dr. Arsenyan, the director of the AGBU Performing Arts Department, discussed the musical contributions Armenians made in the Ottoman Empire, and remembered the 1.5 million people who perished as a result of the Armenian Genocide. Throughout the program, guests enjoyed the works of Armenian composers from the Ottoman Empire, including Komitas, Alemshah, Elmas, Kanachyan, Manas, Sinanian, and Tchouhajian.
As the lights in the theater grew dim, pianist Karen Hakobyan gracefully played the precious works of Komitas, beginning with “Erangi” and ending with “Het u Araj.” The evening continued with beautiful music surrounding the walls of the theater, performed by Solange Merdinian (mezzo soprano), Margarita Terzyan (soprano), Karen Hakobyan (piano), Cecee Pantikian (violin), Ani Bukujian (violin), Aleksandr Nazaryan (viola), and David Bakamjian (cello).
Kanachian’s songs, originally written for a vocal quartet, were adapted for a soloist accompanied by a string quartet, were superbly performed by Solange Merdinian. The concert concluded with a string quartet of Komitas’ music followed by a loud applause and standing ovation by attendees.
The Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) is the world’s largest non-profit
organization devoted to upholding the Armenian heritage through educational,
cultural and humanitarian programs. Each year, AGBU is committed to making
a difference in the lives of 500,000 people across Armenia, Artsakh and the
Armenian diaspora. Since 1906, AGBU has remained true to one overarching
goal: to create a foundation for the prosperity of all Armenians.
To learn more visit www.agbu.org.