By Florence Avakian
NEW YORK — It was a stunning tribute in commemoration of the Armenian Genocide Centennial when world class musicians performed in a Remembrance and Rebirth classical concert at New York’s Merkin Concert Hall, on Saturday, November 21. This event which was presented by the Tekeyan Cultural Association.
Three of the four featured artists — pianist and composer Karen Hakobyan, cellist Alexander Chaushian, and soprano Hasmik Papian — had been among the artists performing to great acclaim in a sold out concert during the three-day special Genocide Centennial Commemoration held in Washington, D.C. in May which had been attended by the Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia Aram I, Armenia’s President Serge Sargisian, and US Vice President Joe Biden, among many national dignitaries.
The November 21 Merkin Hall performance began in grand virtuosic style with Karen Hakobyan displaying his brilliant technical ability, and rich expression in J.S. Bach’s demanding Baroque period, three-movement Piano Concerto in D-minor. Bach has been called “the most stupendously gifted person in the history of music” and Hakobyan certainly gave the composition the integrity it deserved.
Hakobyan was again center stage for his own composition, Rebirth-Adagio for Strings and Timpani, which received its world premiere at this performance. Providing strong supple support was the 23-member World Peace Sinfonietta Chamber Orchestra conducted by its dynamic music director, Arkady Leytush. Dedicated to this year’s Centennial commemoration, the work combined both mournful and intense energy, as well as the lyrical grace of a Komitas melody. It finally rushed to a climax, ending with a calm thoughtfulness possibly with hopes for a more peaceful future.
Two beloved Komitas favorites were joyously sung by soprano Hasmik Papian, accompanied by the orchestra. Garun a (It’s Spring), a meditation on the arrival of spring with snow still falling and Qele Qele (Come, Come).