By Muriel Mirak-Weissbach
Special to the Mirror-Spectator
BERLIN — What better way to celebrate 25 years of independence? The Armenian Ambassador to Germany Ashot Smbatyan chose to focus on the achievements of the present and the hopes for the future, by inviting guests to a concert of the Little Singers of Armenia. Performing in the Berlin Philharmonic hall, a group of 40 youngsters, mainly girls, under the direction of founder and conductor Tigran Hekekyan, presented a program of works illustrating the entire span of centuries of Armenian music, as well as pieces from the international repertoire.
Starting, appropriately, with Glorious Light by Mesrop Mashtots from the fifth century, and two pieces by Komitas, the choir sang both sacred and secular music, from David Halajian, Vahram Sargsyan, Tatul Altunyan and Robert Petrosyan, to David MacIntyre, Claude Debussy, Sergey Pleshak, Richard Adler/Jerry Ross and Joe Garland. A beloved German folk song, performed impeccably in the original, enchanted the listeners.
Following the first six songs, Smbatyan delivered greetings to the guests, who included members of the German Bundestag (Parliament), Berlin Mayor Michael Müller, foreign diplomats, Archbishop Karekin Bekdjian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church in Germany, Armenian scholars Prof. Armenuhi Drost-Abgarjan and Prof. Tessa Hofmann, German-Armenian Society President Dr. Raffi Kantian and other representatives of the Armenian community.
In evaluating the first quarter-century of independence, Smbatyan did not sidestep the difficulties encountered, especially at the outset, under conditions of military conflict and economic deprivation, but stressed the significant achievements in the economic, political and cultural arenas. While Armenians cherish their national identity, they are open to the rest of the world, a fact demonstrated, he said, by the republic’s having welcomed 20,000 Syrian refugees into their country.