SOUTHFIELD, Mich. — An audience of more than 1,500 Detroiters and guests experienced an unforgettable evening in this year of many special events commemorating the Armenian Genocide. A 100 Year Journey of Remembrance and Song was a remarkable program of tribute to our now sainted martyrs and to the inspiring rebirth of Armenia.
Held in Detroit Symphony’s Orchestra Hall on Friday evening, June 19, 2015 under the direction of nationally renowned Artistic Director and Conductor Rubik Mailian, who is also music director at St. John Armenian Church in Southfield, the program featured the Detroit Armenian Chorale and Orchestra, the Hamazkayin Arax Dance Ensemble and the Karapetyan Quartet.
Welcoming remarks were made by Deacon Richard Norsigian, who is co-chair with Deacon Manouk Derovakimian of the Armenian Churches of Greater Detroit Genocide Committee. He thanked the Vanarian-Darrejian families for underwriting the event. The selections of the first half of the program were performed without applause, marked by playing chimes that rang out of respect to the martyrs.
The choir began with Hayastan (Smbatyan) which was accompanied by a dance choreographed especially by Nayiri Karapetian, Choreographer and Director of the Hamazkayin Arax Dance Ensemble. Each of the three accompanying dances were unique to the program. To add visually, as songs were sung, the program was illustrated by a slide show that projected powerful images of the genocide itself, or of cities and villages of historic and present day Armenia. The program booklet enhanced the effect by providing English translations for all of the songs.
Other selections included A Song of Eulogy for the Martyrs (music Garvarents: words Tekeyan) and Der Zor (music Pidejian: words Emin). Soorp Soorp (Komitas) was beautifully sung by the choir and Oror (Ganachian) by soloist Annette Mamassian and City of Many Rivers (Bingyol) by a trio solo of Elina Bagdasaryan, Helena Bardakjian and Annette Mamassian.
In this memorial, of particular interest were the survivors’ stories that described the horrors of the Armenian Genocide. The stories of Nishan Kasabian/Baltayan, choir member Dolly Matoian’s grandfather, Hamaspyr Chapoutian Baylarian, Marianne Dardarian’s grandmother, and Khanam Derderian Dergazarian, Annette Mamassian’s grandmother, were read by John Yavruaian, Carole Lynn Hovsepian and Dr. Joyce Yeghissian. Pictures of each survivor, as well as depictions of their village and ancestral home were shown on the screen.