LOS ANGELES — Like many who devote their talents to the Armenian community rather than gain fame in the wider world, Sarky Mouradian was the community’s asset.
To Armenians in Los Angeles, he was something of a living legend. Others were disappointed that his work did not have the production values or seeming relevance of Hollywood. These Armenians were waiting for a major motion picture telling their story, something that was belatedly and partially realized with the release of “The Promise.”
Mouradian’s legacy was quite different. He was not a Saroyan or a Mamoulian who told the Armenian story to the world community. Instead, he served a vital role as community servant, telling the Armenian story from the perspective of the Armenians, through film and television, without regard to the editorial oversight of Hollywood executives or the preferences of the American public. And perhaps even more importantly, by creating content almost exclusively in Armenian, he aided in the preservation of the Western Armenian language in the United States.
Mouradian died in Los Angeles at age 90 on February 10.
Sarkis Mouradian was born in 1931 in Beirut, and was already involved in music in his teens, writing songs and even making a couple of recordings for the French record label Pathe-Marconi (and according to one article, five recordings for Columbia Records). Early music teachers in Lebanon included such luminaries as Parsegh Ganatchian, the dean of Lebanon’s Armenian music community, who was a famed choral composer and disciple of Gomidas, and Onnig Surmelian, a noted violinist who was the brother of Armenian-American writer Leon Surmelian. Mouradian’s early interest in singing and composing European-influenced Armenian popular songs eventually presaged the Armenian pop music wave of the late 1960s and 1970s — a wave which he himself helped to bring about, by mentoring the singer Manuel (Menengichian).