Cutting of the Tekeyan Cultural Association 75th anniversary cake

ALTADENA, Calif. — This year, the Tekeyan Cultural Association (TCA) has been marking the 75th anniversary of its founding worldwide with various events in different parts of North America. The most recent commemoration took place at the TCA Beshgeturian Center in Altadena on Sunday, December 4, with a cultural program held under the auspices of Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of America and under the aegis of the Central Board of the TCA of the United States and Canada. The evening organized by a special TCA 75th anniversary committee was under the presidency of benefactor Nazareth Kevonian, while Dr. Simon K. Simonian was the keynote speaker.

Maral Voskian

Maral Voskian served as the evening’s master of ceremonies. After Voskian asked for a moment of silence in memory of all TCA founders, leaders and members who have passed away, TCA 75th Anniversary Committee Chair Sonia Babayan presented an overview of TCA activities throughout the Armenian diaspora.

Sonia Babayan

Voskian then introduced Dr. Simonian, an otolaryngologist by profession, and related among his many accomplishments how he played a leadership role in TCA both in Philadelphia and after moving to Pasadena. He served on the TCA Central Board and played an important role in the founding of the TCA Beshgeturian Center. He has held leadership positions in many other Armenian organizations, including the Armenian General Benevolent Union, and is at present chairman of the Zvartnots Cultural Committee of the Western Diocese.

Dr. Simon Simonian

Dr. Simonian in his speech stressed the importance of the preservation of Armenian identity in the diaspora and how TCA played a key role in this over the decades, especially in serving as a “bridge” between Armenia and various Armenian communities scattered throughout the world. The name Tekeyan symbolizes the world of ideas, love, faith, and conviction, he said.

Nazareth Kevonian

TCA West Coast Executive Secretary Mayda Kuredjian provided the biography and accomplishments of Kevonian, who not only is a successful businessman who overcame various obstacles early in life, but is well known as a philanthropist supportive of the Armenian community. He has helped many different types of organizations, including TCA. Kuredjian revealed that the very chairs people were sitting on in the hall were gifts from him.

Dr. Armen Baibourtian, center, with Archbishop Hovnan Derderian and Edmond Azadian

After this, a previously delayed special gift in recognition of his many services to the Armenian people was bestowed upon Dr. Armen Baibourtian, former Deputy Foreign Minister and until recently Consul General of the Republic of Armenia in Los Angeles. Dr. Baibourtian also has served Armenia at the ambassadorial level in far-flung places like India.

Edmond Y. Azadian

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TCA Central Board President Edmond Y. Azadian then took the podium and stated that he and TCA in general are extremely grateful for Dr. Simon Simonian’s contributions to TCA over the years. Azadian expressed appreciation that High Commissioner of Diaspora Affairs of the Republic of Armenia Zareh Sinanyan agreed to come to participate in the event only three hours after disembarking from a flight from Paris. He noted in connection with Sinanyan’s office that the diaspora is one part of the collectivity of Armenians, and if it cannot continue unreserved relations with the homeland, then its efforts to perpetuate Armenian culture and identity are in vain. Consequently, irrespective of the individual holding office, it is necessary for Armenians to stand behind the work of institutions like the High Commission.

Azadian also recognized the energetic, inspiring and constructive activities of Archbishop Derderian, who happens to be a poet in addition to all his other talents.

Azadian thanked the organizers of the commemorative evening and noted that the various TCA chapters and bodies in Southern California, and their members, have over the years brought honor to their organization through their activities. Azadian sketched out how Tekeyan chapters spread throughout Armenian communities in different continents, from the Middle East to Armenia to South America, and of course to Los Angeles. TCA, wherever it may be, serves as the shield or army defending Armenian culture, Azadian proclaimed.

He spoke about the decades of working not only to disseminate Armenian culture but to allow Armenians in the West to remain in touch with various cultural and social developments in Soviet Armenia during the difficult era of the Cold War. Some of the most eminent writers, musicians and artists of Soviet Armenia were brought to the diaspora as part of Tekeyan programs.

After this speech, the main speakers and guests of honor participated in the cutting of a special Tekeyan 75th anniversary cake. Honorary president Kevonian was given a special gift as souvenir of the evening.

Nazareth Kevonian holds up gift

High Commissioner Sinanyan then was invited to speak. He praised the work of TCA in the preservation and dissemination of Armenian cultural and its contributions to the progress of the homeland. Sinanyan briefly spoke of the perilous situation Armenia was facing and called for all Armenians to rally around the homeland.

Zareh Zinanyan

Archbishop Derderian at the conclusion of the formal program said that 75 years is a significant span of time for an organization to have pursued its mission and maintained a membership. In his remarks, he quoted from the works of the “prince of poets” Vahan Tekeyan and called for everyone to love the Armenian culture and church and truly become “bridges” to the homeland.

Archbishop Hovnan Derderian

Archbishop Derderian was accompanied at the event by Archpriest Fr. Manoug Markarian.

Singer Arthur Hagopian, aka “Mr. X”

The aforementioned talks were interspersed with musical interludes. Arthur Hagopian, who goes by the name “Mr. X” when he performs, sang a number of internationally known songs including Armenian ones, while the Tekeyan Youth Band, formed only relatively recently, performed various types of jazz fusion and Armenian works, including an adaptation of Arno Babajanian’s Elegy.

Mayda Kuredjian

The band, introduced by Kuredjian, includes Edgar Ekshian on piano, Hayg Kaymakamian on guitar, Sean Armoudikian on guitar, Mark Tavukjian on saxophone and Michael Andinian on drums. Marie Kayayan is their musical adviser.

The Tekeyan Youth Band

Counselor Nazeli Hambardzumyan of the Consulate General of the Republic of Armenia in Los Angeles was among the special guests in the audience, along with leaders of various Armenian organizations and political parties. TCA of the US and Canada Central Board members Hilda Hartunian and Mihran Minassian, as well as TCA Executive Director Aram Arkun, had come from the East Coast to attend the event.

After the formal program was concluded, a buffet dinner was provided to guests, who had the opportunity to speak further with the artists and dignitaries involved in the evening’s program. Violinist Merouzhan Margaryan provided further musical entertainment both before and after the formal program. The Beshgeturian hall itself was specially adorned with festive decorations for the occasion. A video of the entire event can be seen at

The program booklet for the evening included letters of encouragement and congratulations from Archbishop Derderian, Armenian Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport Vahram Dumanyan, High Commissioner Sinanyan, President of the Writers Union of Armenia Edward Militonyan, and Edmond Azadian. At the end of the booklet are the names of the members of the Tekeyan 75th Anniversary Committee of the West Coast who helped organize the event, including chair Sonia Babayan, Hratch Ajemian, Jirair Frounjian, Ani Kartalian, Parsegh Kartalian, Lilit Keheyan, Mariette Asdghig Khanjian, Lora Kuyumjian, Ani Nahabedian, Khatchig Nahabedian, Siran Oknayan, and TCA West Coast Executive Secretary Mayda Kuredjian.

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