NEW MILFORD, N.J. — Members of the Return to Asbury Kef Weekend organizing committee were invited to participate in a ceremony at the Hovnanian School where they delivered Armenian musical instruments to the students. Funds to dedicate these hand-made-in-Armenia instruments were raised at the 2016 Return to Asbury Kef Weekend, an independent, non-profit event that takes place annually in Asbury Park, NJ. This year, the organizers decided to use the proceeds specifically for Armenian musical instruments to perpetuate Armenian music in America, and to carry forward the Armenian Kef culture for the next generation of Armenian American youth.
The fifth annual Return to Asbury Kef weekend took place on August 5-6, 2016. Arsine Kaloustian, Taniel Koushakjian, Alan Minoyan, David Norian, and Steve Vosbikian organized the event, with the support of Florida Armenians.
“As the Chair of Return to Asbury for the last two years, it was my pleasure to be involved in the planning of this event for a third year, alongside such a dynamic group of Armenians who are all so dedicated to giving back to the community,” stated Kaloustian. “We tried to focus this year’s event, not only on the kef music that we all love to listen to on the beach, but also on looking forward to the future. It is vitally important that we pass our music and traditions down to the next generation if we want to avoid events like Return to Asbury from fading away into silence. This music and this event truly belongs to all of us,” he added.
As part of the dedication ceremony held on Wednesday, November 16, 2016, renowned musician Steve Vosbikian gave a musical demonstration, playing a variety of instruments to help inspire the students to become future musicians.
“The purpose of this event was to perpetuate Armenian music for our treasured Armenian youth, and I want to thank everyone who attended and supported this event,” stated Vosbikian. “This is only the beginning. Our hope for next year is to expand on this concept and bring the gift of music to even more of our youth,” he said.
All the proceeds were used to purchase 35 new shvis for the music education program at the Hovnanian School. The shvi is a simple woodwind instrument that is a stepping-stone to learning more advanced Armenian instruments such as the duduk or zurna. Each instrument is professional grade and has been specially crafted with a two-piece design to ensure accurate tuning.