MONTREAL — The Tekeyan Cultural Association (TCA) Montreal Chapter celebrated three anniversaries simultaneously on October 29: the 75th anniversary of the founding of TCA, the 47th anniversary of the trilingual weekly newspaper Abaka, and the centennial of Armenian composer Arno Babajanian. A full house listened to the musical program and speeches at the Tekeyan Montreal Center.
Under the patronage of Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of Canada Bishop Abgar Hovakimyan, represented by Fr. Komitas Mirzakhanyan, and under the presidency and with the presence of Armenian Ambassador to Canada Anahit Harutyunyan, the evening began as Harout Kouyoumjian, a member of the TCA Montreal executive, invited Abaka editor Avedis Bakkalian to present remarks.
Bakkalian noted the importance of the press, along with Armenian culture, schools and books, in the struggle to preserve the use of the Armenian language. He encouraged the older generations to provide gift subscriptions of Abaka to the youth to help in this struggle, building on the example of the custom in Armenia to give books as gifts to one another one day a year.
Dr. Arshavir Gundjian, who recently had received the Order of Canada from Governor General Mary Simon, in his capacity as vice president of the Central Board of the TCA of the United States and Canada, first congratulated the TCA Montreal chapter for a half-century of highly productive activity from the beginnings of the relatively young Armenian community of Montreal. He praised the entire team and especially editor Bakkalian of Abaka, the first Armenian newspaper in Canada, founded in 1975. He then spoke of how the 75th anniversary of the founding of TCA in Beirut was made possible through the farsighted actions of the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party leadership back in 1947. Despite the difficulties of the Cold War, the TCA had thus provided through its high quality cultural activities, exchanges and programs a bridge to maintain an effective communication link between the world of the Armenian diaspora and the Armenian homeland, then part of the Soviet Union.
Gundjian noted the irreplaceable loss of Dr. Haroutiun Arzoumanian, who passed away at the end of last year, and more recently, Vartouhie Balian, and evoked their invaluable contributions in the history of TCA Montreal.
Babajanian was one of the founders of the “estrada” form of popular Armenian music. In commemoration of his anniversary, Arden Arabian performed some of Babajanian’s jazz pieces on the piano while soprano coloratura Sasha Djihanian and lyric tenor Sarkis Barsemian sang. They were accompanied by Arabian’s popular quartet, which includes Olivier Hebert on contrabass, Samuel Blais on saxophone and clarinet and drummer Sacha Daoud.