YerazArt Artists Soar on Belmont Hill



By Alin K. Gregorian

Mirror-Spectator Staff

BELMONT, Mass. — The quiet of Belmont Hill was shattered on Saturday, October 4, not by a wild party, but by two musically gifted performers from Armenia and an enthusiastic crowd at a fundraiser and concert for YerazArt.

Soprano Mane Galoyan and classical guitarist Lilit Mardiyan thrilled the more than 80 supporters of YerazArt, who had gathered at the home of Ani and Nelson Stepanian. The two were accompanied by pianist Nune Hakobyan.

“We are very happy and proud to sponsor YerazArt and the work they are doing in Armenia for young musicians,” said host Nelson Stepanian.

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Ani Stepanian added, “Being from Gumri, I appreciate the work YerazArt does for young Armenians in the provinces. We are happy to support these musicians.”

YerazArt Executive Board Chair Nicole Babikian Hajjar thanked the members of the committee and the guests for attending. She also told the audience about the success of the previous year’s soloist, Diana Adamyan, who has attended master classes thanks to YerazArt and has been invited to participate on a full scholarship at the 16th Annual National Arts Centre Summer Music Institute, Young Artists Program to be held in Ottawa, Canada, in June.

There she will be working with Pinchas Zukerman, music director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra, along with 70 other gifted students from Canada and abroad who were all chosen through a highly competitive selection process.

Hajjar also spoke about other success stories, including musicians from a couple of years ago, Nara Avetisyan who is studying with Prof. Sergey Babayan for her master’s at the Cleveland Institute of Music.

“None of this would have happened without you,” Hajjar told the audience. “Our needs are so tremendous that we have to make hard choices and help with one instrument, one school and one talent at a time.”

Board Member Sylvie Zakarian, a classical percussionist and a faculty member of the Longy School of Music of Bard College,  then spoke about the aims of YerazArt in Armenia. She recently presented workshops and gave master classes in Yerevan for Sistema Armenia to help them with ensemble chamber music, where she taught students ages 14-19. The classes, she said, “were some of my longest days in music studios as well as some of the most satisfying. The students asked countless questions.”

She said that often in Armenia, students have difficulty with access to certain instruments, such as bassoons, trombones, French horns. Major orchestras in the country lack wind musicians, and often resort to importing them from Europe. In addition, she spoke to the students about collaboration and performing in orchestras, rather than only as soloists. “Such work relationships are essential in building any community,” she explained.

She lamented the fact that the best-equipped studio at Yerevan State Conservatory, where the sessions were held, was a pop studio where future stars were trained.

Zakarian noted happily that she is still in touch with many of the students, who often send her videos of their performances for input.

Soprano Mane Galoyan performed at the Houston Grand Opera Studio by invitation this summer. She was a prizewinner at the Hans Gabor Belvedere International Singing Competition earlier in the year as well as the International Young Opera Singers’ Competition in Saint Petersburg in 2013. She was also one of the participants in the YerazArt-sponsored North American concert tour of 2009. She has also won other competitions in Russia and Kazakhstan. In addition, Hajjar announced, two days before the reception, Galoyan had received an invitation to submit an audition for Juilliard for the master’s program.

Classical guitarist Lilit Mardiyan is currently pursuing her Master of Music studies on a full scholarship at the Yale School of Music. A former student at Yerevan State Conservatory and USC Thornton School of Music (Los Angeles), Mardiyan has garnered multiple awards and performed extensively in Russia, Armenia, Greece, Germany and the United States.

The two musicians, accompanied on some songs by pianist Nune Hakobyan, performed both Armenian and Western classical pieces.

Galoyan’s voice was clear and sharp, entrancing the audience.

Mardiyan also performed several pieces, some Spanish while others from South America. Her speed and dexterity, as well as capability to create so many sounds from the guitar, including by using it as a drum, thrilled the audience.

According to Hajjar, the event raised about $20,000 for YerazArt’s instrument program. “I am very happy. It is always great to see new fresh faces. But what I am happy about is that we have a faithful following year after year. We must be doing something right!”

She added, “Fundraising is our mission hear after year for us to better serve the young musicians.”

She noted that the organization fine-tunes its mission regularly to better serve its targets.

One very good problem the group has now, she said, is who to bring here to perform as the bar has been raised every year.

Among the programs that YerazArt hosts in Armenian are master classes, hosting young performers to take part in international competitions and helping them network. In addition, the Instrument Donation Program (IDP)  donates instruments to select musical institutions and students, both in Yerevan and in remote areas throughout the country.

YerazArt’s need-based scholarships provide financial aid to talented students seeking a higher musical education in Armenia. YerazArt also offers a limited number of scholarships to enable exceptional students to audition at renowned conservatories abroad.

YerazArt offers talented young musicians the opportunity to travel and perform in the United States, allowing them to engage with a diverse audience of music enthusiasts and to connect with music professionals in the States.

Donations to YerazArt can be sent to YerazArt, P.O Box 79133, Belmont, MA 02479. With questions, those interested can contact or 

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