By Mark Antranig Arkun
Special to the Mirror-Spectator
LYNNFIELD, Mass. — At the Zangakner Performing Arts Ensemble, not everyone is fluent in Armenian. Some cannot read, some cannot speak, and some do not know the language at all. Fortunately, Hasmik Konjoyan, the director, provides lyrics transliterated into English as well as spoken translations for the ease of the members who have a better knowledge of English than Armenian.
When I joined two years ago, I did not know anyone and I could not read Armenian quickly enough to sing in this language. However, Mrs. Konjoyan felt I was a good singer and did her best to make sure I always knew the lyrics.
We first met at the Erebuni School, held in a Protestant American church in Belmont, and intended for children to learn Armenian on Saturdays. Due to my level of Armenian, I was placed in the first grade. All the children I learnt Armenian with were many years younger than me. I knew no one at first, but soon I got to know my classmates. Mrs. Konjoyan was the singing director for Erebuni and had each class for around thirty minutes. For a few class periods, Mrs. Konjoyan acted as a substitute for my teacher and got to know me a bit better.
Before my second year of Erebuni, the school switched to the St. James Church nearby. To my dismay, I was held after school to practice singing. Hasmik saw something in me that was shared with the other members of Zangakner: a talent for singing.
Soon after I began my after-school singing practice, I met the other members of Zangakner. Ani Belorian, Sona Hakobyan and Sophia Goulopoulos introduced themselves to me, along with the only other boy — Danny Petetski. Over time, I got to know them better, seeing them at practices on Wednesdays as well as sometimes on Saturdays. Usually, Saturdays were reserved for private practices, to make up for any missed Wednesdays.