BOSTON — On Saturday, March 31, the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) New England District, with the support of the AGBU New York Special Events Committee (NYSEC), transformed the Harvard Club into a concert hall for an evening full of classical and traditional Armenian music. Performances by recipients of the AGBU Performing Arts Fellowship, who are among the 500 students supported annually by the organization’s Scholarship Program, helped raise close to $60,000, which will benefit the district’s youth initiatives.
The success of the event, which featured the work of composers Aram Khachaturian, Felix Mendelssohn and Sergei Rachmaninoff, among others, was celebrated both on and off the stage by its award-winning artists and guests. Conductor Aram Demirjian, who led a range of ensembles with mezzo-soprano Solange Merdinian, said, “I was honored to be asked to be involved in my second AGBU Performing Artists Concert. Those featured on the program are not only some of my favorite artists to work with, but some of my favorite people to be around in the profession, and I am proud to be able to call them my colleagues and friends.”
Those friends included cellist Ani Kalayjian, violinist Henrik Karapetyan, marimba soloist Sylvie Zakarian, soprano singer Knarik Nerkararyan and pianists Karen Hakobyan and Sofya Melikyan.
The alumni’s talents attracted both music lovers and public figures alike, notably Frederic Lefebvre, France’s minister of trade. Lefebvre joined AGBU patrons for a post-concert reception, where he discussed France’s commitment to the Armenian community and reaffirmed President Nicolas Sarkozy’s efforts to criminalize the denial of the Armenian Genocide. He also took time to meet personally with performers and audience members.
Concert Committee Chair Salpie Takadjian noted the overwhelmingly positive response she received from many of the 150 guests throughout the night, prompting her to begin planning events of the same caliber. She congratulated the performers, commenting, “sharing the talents of these young musicians with the audience was a pleasure, working with them was a privilege and listening to them was inspiring.”
District Chair Ara Balikian echoed those sentiments while noting that with the performance, the new Executive Committee of the New England district provided a cultural experience for the New England community. The committee, formed in fall 2011, is off to a promising start, and as Balikian added, “under the new direction of the AGBU New England District, we are proud to offer events such as this magnificent concert, along with the variety of functions we are holding at our center, to promote and preserve our culture.”
With proceeds from the concert, the concept for which was originated by NYSEC, even more AGBU initiatives will be made possible. In addition to underwriting programs for youth and university students, the donations will be used to renovate the center’s facilities, creating a hub of activity for AGBU volunteers and supporters.