YerazArt Celebrates a Decade of Service to Armenia with Music and Flair

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By Aram Arkun

Mirror-Spectator Staff

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — YerazArt celebrated its tenth anniversary on October 23 with a concert titled “A Prelude to Our Future,” at the Longy School of Music’s Pickman Hall. It featured violinist Diana Adamyan, pianist Nara Avetisyan, trumpeter Daniel Melkonyan and tenor Tigran Ohanyan, all young and talented artists originally from Armenia, with Nuné Hakobyan as collaborative pianist. A cocktail reception followed at the Sheraton Commander Hotel.

Adamyan performed Johann Sebastian Bach’s Partita No. 3 in E major BMV 1006, Prelude, Rodion Shchedrin’s In the Style of Albéniz, and Aram Khachaturian’s Violin Concerto in D minor, opus 46, Allegro vivace. Adamyan, 16, currently studies at the Yerevan Tchaikovsky Special Music School, and from a young age has won numerous prizes in Armenia and Russia. She has performed extensively with the National Chamber Orchestra of Armenia in France, Switzerland and Iran, and has performed in YerazArt’s 2013 annual concert. In April 2016, she was invited to join the prestigious International Music Academy of Liechtenstein on a scholarship and currently participates in the intensive music weeks and programs it offers.

Ohanyan sang Umberto Giordano’s Loris aria from “Fedora,” Giuseppe Verdi’s Alfredo aria from “La Traviata,” Giacomo Puccini’s Pinkerton aria from “Madame Butterfly,” and Armen Tigranyan’s Jivan Yar Jan from his “Anush” opera. Born in 1994 in Yerevan, Ohanyan received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Vocal Arts from Yerevan’s Komitas State Conservatory, where he studied with voice professor Rafael Hakobyants. He has performed in Armenia, Russia, Germany and the US, and made his opera debut in March 2016 as Rodolfo in Puccini’s La Bohème with the Armenian National Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Eduard Topchjan. Among his many prizes, in 2016, he won the Armenian President’s Prize, followed by the Special Prize at the 6th Galina Vishnevskaya International Competition in Moscow, Russia. In 2015, he won Special Prize as Most Promising Tenor at the Jazeps Vitols International Vocal Competition in Latvia. In 2012, he won Bronze Medal and Special Prize at the 7th Open Youth Delphic Games in Astana, Kazakhstan, and was later awarded a diploma at the 6th International Competition of Opera Singers in Saints Petersburg, Russia. In 2007, he won first prize at the Alexander Spendiaryan 2nd Young Musicians’ National Competition in Yerevan and first prize at the Veratsnund International Contest-Festival in Yerevan.

Avetisyan played Enrique Granados’ Goyesca No. 5, El Amor y La Muerte, Balada, and Frederic Chopin’s Ballade No. 4 in F minor, opus 52. Avetisyan is currently pursuing a double master’s degree at the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM) in solo and collaborative piano performance after receiving her bachelor’s degree at the same institute in 2014. The Anais Afeyan scholarship through YerazArt as well as several other Armenian scholarships assisted with her education at CIM. She has won numerous prizes, including first prize at the Grant Piano Competition in Sioux Falls in 2014, and others in Greece, Lithuania and Italy. She has performed recitals in Vienna, Munich, Geneva, London, Monaco, Sochi, Boston, Los Angeles, and many other venues.

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Melkonyan performed an excerpt from Alexander Arutiunian’s Trumpet Concerto in A-flat minor, opus 94, Yuri Harutyunyan’s melody from the movie “The Merry Bus,” and Jean-Baptiste Arban’s Carnival of Venice. Born in 1999 into a family of musicians, Melkonyan entered the Yerevan Tchaikovsky Special Music School at the age of seven, and still studies there today. He won First Prize at the Veratsnund International Festival-Contest in Gyumri, Armenia in 2010 and 2014, First Prize at the Games of Navasard in Yerevan in 2013, and Special Prize as Audience Favorite at Harmony, the Second International Georgian=Armenian Friendship Festival. In 2013, Melkonyan was gifted a trumpet by YerazArt Foundation, and with the support of this organization he participated in the Nutcracker International Television Contest for Young Musicians in Moscow. He won third prize and was named a laureate. YerazArt also supported his participation in the concert of the Denis Matsuev Fund in Voronezh in 2015 called New Names of the CIS Countries.

Accompanist Hakobyan at present teaches at her private studio in Watertown and at the Concord-Carlisle Music School, and is the pianist for the NOR trio (with violinist Sargis Karapetyan and saxophonist Andrei Sobchenko). She completed her music education at the Sayat Nova Music School and the Tchaikovsky Music School in her native Armenia, and holds a master’s degree in Piano Performance and an Artist Diploma in Collaborative Piano from the Komitas State Conservatory. She has worked as an accompanist at the Boston Conservatory and Boston University SFA.

YerazArt Executive Board Chair Nicole Babikian Hajjar welcomed the audience members and served as the master of ceremonies. She provided an overview of the YerazArt programs. Hajjar thanked the YerazArt cofounders and her fellow board members. Among those who had helped organize the evening’s program were Roset Atinizian, Margarit Belorian, Piruz Bogossian, Marlene Fereshetian and Ani Stepanian.

The YerazArt Executive Board includes Anna Afeyan, Nina Festekjian, Vahe Ghahraman, Sargis Karapetyan, Seza Seraderian, Arlette Yegumians and Sylvie Zakarian.

The performances were enthusiastically received by the audience, which afterwards had the interesting opportunity to meet the performers and socialize at the reception. Later, Hajjar declared the following about the occasion: “We were pleased to see many of our community members and supporters share this milestone celebration with us. We heard multiple compliments about the artists’ performance and overall quality of the event, but particularly gratifying were the praises we received for YerazArt’s important work and mission.”

YerazArt was founded in 2006 in Boston by Noubar Afeyan and Raffi Festekjian as a charitable foundation with a mission “to nurture, support and promote young and talented artists from Armenia.” It began with annual concert tours in the US and Canada of young artists from Armenia. In 2011, an Instrument Donation Program was founded, while in 2016 YerazArt’s Yerevan Summer Music School (SMS) was initiated. It is a collaboration with the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) of Armenia and the Armenian National Philharmonic Orchestra (ANPO), and offers young Armenian musicians the opportunity to learn from experienced orchestral talents.

Over the course of ten years, YerazArt supported close to 150 students, and another 100 through partnerships with the ANPO, AGBU, Atken Foundation and Sistema Armenia. Thirty young musicians from Armenia have performed on five YerazArt North American concert tours during this decade. Visiting Armenian artists have been able to learn from respected teachers at the New England Conservatory, Longy School of Music, and other major institutions. Its scholarships allow musicians from Armenia to attend competitions, master classes and other educational programs abroad.

YerazArt has donated more than 100 instruments since 2011 to music schools in Yerevan and remote districts of the Republic of Armenia. At least 10 teachers annually receive a stipend to teach and give master classes in Armenia. Today the Instrument Donation Program focuses on woodwind and brass instruments which are scarce in Armenia.