Anahit Nersisyan with quartet

Centennial of Composer Arno Babajanian Commemorated by Tekeyan Cultural Association


GLENDALE — The Tekeyan Cultural Association (TCA) Los Angeles Chapter together with the Metro Los Angeles Chapter, organized a commemoration of the centennial of Armenian composer Arno Babajanian (1921-1983) at the hall of the Armenian Society of Los Angeles. More than 200 people attended the event.

The event was held under the auspices of Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, who attended together with Fr. Zaven Markosyan. Guest of honor was the First Secretary of the Consulate General of the Republic of Iraq Aqeel Al-Sodanie, who attended with his family.

Archbishop Hovnan Derderian

The evening began with the screening of a short documentary film about the second Artsakh war, in which Arno Babajanian’s song, Boys Who Are Not There [Dgherk, voronk chgan] was performed by the Little Singers of Armenia children’s choir, and a moment of silence was observed in memory of those who lost their lives in the war.

Archbishop Hovnan Derderian offering his congratulations to the musicians

Professional musicians presented the audience with some of Babajanian’s compositions, including a string quartet composed of Armen Mangasaryan (first violin), Hovhannes Meghrikyan (second violin), Hovhannes Fishyan (viola), and Hovik Hovhannesian (cello), with Armine Ghazaryan on piano. Singers Anahit Nersesyan (soprano) and Suren Mkrtichyan (tenor) also participated.

Lilit Keheyan as master of ceremonies

Lilit Keheyan, a member of the board of the TCA Los Angeles chapter and a literary critic, helped organize the event and served as master of ceremonies. She said that many famous figures of culture and art have expressed admiration for Arno Babajanian, but quoted William Saroyan in particular. Babajanian wrote the music for the 1975 movie version of Saroyan’s play, “My Heart Is in the Highlands.”

The evening’s program included a performance of Babajanian’s songs Mer sireli Yerevan [Our Beloved Yerevan], Chknagh Yeraz [Wonderful Dream], Arajin Siro Yergeh [The First Love Song] and Im Yerevan [My Yerevan], the words of which were written by Aramayis Sahakyan and Vladimir Harutyunyan; Meghedi [Melody] performed by the string quartet; and two Russian songs sung by Suren Mkrtichyan, whose words were written by two famous Russian poets who were best friends of  theArmenians – Robert Rozhdestvensky and Yevgeny Yevtushenko.

Pianist Armine Ghazaryan

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The audience also enjoyed Elekia [Elegy] performed by Anahit Nersesyan, which is nothing other than the Babajanian elaboration of Sayat Nova’s Kanim Vur Jan Im, and Vocaliz for voice and orchestra written by Babajanian specifically for Lusine Zakaryan. At the end, Mkrtichyan performed the famous Azg Parabants [Glorious Nation], with lyrics by Ashot Grashi, with which the majority of those present sang along. And all this was to the professional accompaniment of string quartet and piano.

The closing words to the event were given by Archbishop Derderian, who shared his pleasant memories of Babajanian and reflected on his remarkable influence on Armenian culture, before giving his blessing to those present.

Soprano Anahit Nersisyan

After an understandable break in public activities, the Tekeyan Cultural Association, faithful to its principles, mission and name continues to present high-quality events to the Armenian public, thereby contributing to the difficult process of the preservation of Armenian identity in the diaspora.

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