Anna Afeyan

Evening of Art and Food Raises Funds for YerazArt


By Alin K. Gregorian

Mirror-Spectator Staff

BOSTON — On March 11, a capacity crowd gathered at anoush’ella saj kitchen restaurant in the South End for a fundraiser to benefit YerazArt, an organization helping young musicians in Armenia.

The event netted $20,000.

Chairing the event this year were YerazArt board members Nina Festekjian and Anna Afeyan.

Festekjian and her husband, Raffi, are the proprietors of anoush’ella, which opened several months ago.

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Afeyan spoke about the track record of the artists supported by the organization, who have achieved a high level of success internationally. Among those are Narek Arutyunyan, a young clarinetist who graduated from the Juilliard School, and Diana Adamyan, a young violinist who has won several competitions and has been selected to participate in the International Menuhin Competition in April.

Afeyan said that the organization has given grants and scholarships to many young musicians and that since 2006, it has supported more than 100 artists so that “young musicians grow up and become very accomplished. There are several who hold PhDs now both abroad and in Armenia.”

She noted that the group now wants to focus on musicians playing wind and brass instruments. “There are no students, no teachers and even the National Philharmonic has European players” for those instruments, she said.

“We also pay stipends to teachers so that they teach year-round,” Afeyan said. “And we donate the instruments. They are no less expensive in Armenia than here,” with instruments costing between $2,000 and $5,000. “We donate the instruments to the schools and they are dedicated to a promising young artist,” Afeyan said. Once the student leaves, they cannot take the instrument with them.

Many of the instruments were more than 50 years old and in rough shape, she said.

Festekjian thanked the local artists who had donated artwork for the silent auction: Levon Gyulkhasyan, Tamara Wolfson, Hagop Keledjian, Karine Makartichian and Sirarpi Heghinian Walzer.

Noubar Afeyan added that another item up for auction was a signed early copy of Hayk Demoyan’s Armenian Legacy in America: A 400-Year Heritage, donated by the Aurora Humanitarian Initiatative.

Festekjian then invited Nicole Babikian Hajjar, who for more than a decade has chaired the fundraisers for YerazArt, and presented to her Michael Aram decorative piece as a token of thanks.

Hajjar said, “I am very happy to YerazArt is in the best hands possible” and congratulated the founders of the organization, Raffi Festekjian and Noubar Afeyan, and their spouses.

Nina Festekjian said she was happy with the program. “I am thankful to have this today. It has been great to raise as much as this. This year we are doing it in a public place where are usually it is in a house.”

Sylvie Zakarian, a YerazArt board member and a faculty member in the percussion department at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Afeyan said, is helping the group focus its scope in Armenia.

Zakarian said that for several summers YerazArt has set up a two-week summer music school for gifted students high school age and younger for wind and brass.

Guests mingled and munched on Lebanese and Armenian food passed around on trays.

Music was provided by the Oriental Trio.

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