Tekeyan Presents Master Violinist Henrik Karapetyan


By Betty Apigian Kessel

BLOOMFIELD, Mich. — He is only 28 but if his November 19, dissertation recital is any evidence, violinist Henrik Karapetyan’s star is destined to rise to the heavens. Over 100 people attended the evening event held at the Bloomfield Township Library presented by the Metro Detroit area Tekeyan Cultural Association. Introduction was by Edmond Azadian with additional comments by Nora Azadian.

Karapetyan is a DMA (Doctor of Musical Arts) candidate in violin performance at the University of Michigan School of Music Theatre and Dance, the equivalent of a performance PhD, which he will receive next spring. He was accepted to do his doctoral studies in 2007 with full tuition and part-time teaching appointment as a grad student instructor.

The Michigan School of Music is often ranked as one of the best schools in the country, accepting only two to three violinists annually from scores of applicants. Being selected is an honor.

Karapetyan is a Yerevan native and comes from a family of musicians. Locally, he is the nephew of Anahit Toomajan, wife of Prof. Dicran Toomajan, therefore he comes with an impressive pedigree. He speaks Armenian, Russian, French and excellent English.

He began his music lessons at the age of 6 at Spendiarian Special Music School of Yerevan. In 1997 he entered the Komitas State Conservatory of Music in the class of distinguished Prof. S. Akhnazaryan.

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He performed as the conservatory’s orchestra concertmaster during the premiere performance of J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion in Armenia. He was a semifinalist in an international competition held in France thereafter traveling through Europe as a member of the Serenade Chamber Orchestra.

Karapetyan moved to the US in 2001 as a graduate student, during which time he held the concertmaster’s position with the Plymouth and International Symphony Orchestras. In 2005, he completed a recording project featuring violin-piano miniatures performed by himself and his wife, Yevgenya Lavrovskaya.

In 2004, Karapetyan joined the Michigan Opera Theatre as a section violinist. He teaches lessons, master classes, is a clinician and freelancer in the Detroit area. As the violinist of the Luminare duo, he performs close to 100 shows annually together with his wife.

His concert, “Medieval Voices-Modern Reflections,” consisted of modern music compositions inspired by Armenian religious music tradition, including works by Sharafyan, Alan Hovhaness, Aghajanyan, and Baghdasaryan. Two world premieres were performed at the concert, one a piece by Karapetyan, the exciting The Birth of Vahakn, and a piano trio by Daniel Thomas Davis commissioned for the occasion.

Karapetyan gives his good friend — a non-Armenian — Davis, composer of Diary of Scattering, high marks as an outstanding modern composer. Perhaps a first, Davis’ Scattering was inspired by Armenian religious traditions. His inspiration was the history of the Armenians including the Genocide, thus creating the diaspora, evoking great emotion with his lovely composition. My conversation with Davis revealed he had a friendship with a Watertown, Mass. Armenian. That influence resulted in composing a magnificent tribute to Armenians everywhere.

Credit must be give to Karapetyan. Amongst his ambitions is to bring Armenian music widely to non-Armenian audiences, accomplishing that by including non-Armenians in the process as performers and composers as was done this night.

Karapetyan is in exceptional company with the likes of Komitas, Tahmizyan, Atayan and Kooshnarian, all of whom consider Armenian religious music the purest expression of the true Armenian spirit and character. Appropriately, Karapetyan has a photo of himself with Komitas’ statue, which stands in downtown Detroit on Jefferson Avenue.

For a year, he was director of the choir at St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church of Dearborn.

The future for Henrik Karapetyan? He sees himself comfortable in an academic environment of a college or university where he can simultaneously teach and perform. In his collaboration with Daniel Thomas Davis Karapetyan says, “I have been lucky to have him in my project. My intention is to bring this to wider audiences. I hope to get other Armenian communities nationwide interested in it.”

Henrik and Yevgenya have a son, Aleksander, and reside in Rochester. As if his agenda were not ambitious enough, his other interests include chess, reading and writing. Not only is he a violinist of accomplishment, he is also a prizewinner of the Armenian National Competition of Young Writer’s in 1996. He has been blessed with many talents.

Armenian communities alert: If you want to avail yourselves of Henrik Karapetyan’s project and enlighten others about beautiful Armenian music, contact him at henkar@umich.edu.

(Betty Apigian Kessel’s Michigan Hye Beat column appears courtesy of the Armenian Weekly.)

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