PASADENA, Calif. — A monumental and moving concert by the Lark Musical Society, featuring Johannes Brahms magnum opus, took place on Saturday, March 2, at the Ambassador Auditorium, under the auspices of the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) and dedicated to the memory of Dr. Mihran Agbabian.
Conducted by the Vatsche Barsoumian, the program, titled “A Promise of Hope,” centered around Brahms’s German Requiem, a 19th century classical masterpiece and was performed by the Lark Mastersingers, the Lark Orchestra and soloists Garineh Avakian (mezzo-soprano), Suzanne Waters (soprano), and Edward Levy (baritone). The composition, written in German, was composed by Brahms between 1865 and 1868 at the ripe age of 30, and was a critical work that launched his professional career as an influential composer.
The theme of hope and comfort for the living was relevantly timed with the advent of Easter as the libretto conveyed passages from the Bible’s old and new testaments, compiled by Brahms himself. The religious atmosphere heightened the spiritual ambiance of the evening as Gwen Gibson, pastor of the HRock Church, which holds services in the Ambassador Auditorium, opened the program’s remarks.
“This is our home and it is our delight to share the stage with Lark Musical Society,” said Gibson of the Ambassador Auditorium, referred to as the “Carnegie Hall of the West.” “As a multi-generational and multi-ethnic church, it is our pleasure to host this performance.”
Kenneth Kevorkian, chairman of the organizing committee, expressed gratitude for the audience’s attendance, while reflecting on the recent passing of Agbabian. As co-founder of the American University of Armenia, Agbabian was a dedicated individual who generously gave to the Armenian people, from the homeland — establishing its first Western style academic institution — all the way to California, where he effectively participated and impacted myriad cultural, religious and humanitarian organizations.
“We are saddened by the loss of our former board member,” said Kevorkian. “He was a guiding inspiration for all of us and we dedicate tonight’s concert to him and his memory.”