From left, Sossy Setrakian, Tamar Dekermenci, Karine Poghosyan, Alla Terzyan, Primate Fr. Mesrop Parsamyan, Vicki Hovanessian, Seta Kantarjian and Rev. Davit Karamyan

Concert at St. Vartan Cathedral Dedicated to Armenian Independence Anniversary


By Florence Avakian

NEW YORK — Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow has said, “Music is the universal language of mankind.”

And legendary composer Ludwig van Beethoven called music “a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy. It is the electrical soil in which the spirit lives, thinks and invents, the mediator between spirituality and the sensual life.”

Living and bringing to life these profound sayings will be a concert in honor of Armenian Independence Day at St. Vartan Cathedral, on Wednesday, September 20, at 8 p.m.

Acclaimed artists at this auspicious event will be pianist Karine Poghosyan, and conductor Jason Tramm, leading the 45 members of the MidAtlantic Philharmonic Orchestra. They will perform the soulful and emotional music of Sergei Rachmaninoff and Aram Khachaturian in honor of their births — the 150th anniversary of Rachmaninoff, and 120 anniversary of Khachaturian.

The Primate of the Eastern Diocese, the Very Rev. Mesrop Parsamyan has stated that “this momentous occasion holds a special place in the hearts of Armenians around the world as we commemorate the hard-fought journey toward sovereignty and the enduring spirit of our beloved homeland.”

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And St. Vartan Cathedral Vicar, Rev. Fr. Davit Karamyan said “St. Vartan Cathedral is the presence of the Armenian spirit in New York City. By holding such an important concert in the Sanctuary, we bring a unique flavor of that spirit to both Armenians and non-Armenians alike.”

Since her orchestral debut at age 14 in her native Armenia, and her solo Carnegie Hall debut at age 23, Poghosyan has received many rave reviews for her “ability to get to the heart of the works she performs” leaving her audiences transformed.

Karine Poghosyan

Her most recent concerts include three sold-out performances at Carnegie Hall, one of which was a CD Release of a “Rachmaninoff and Stravinsky” recording on Centaur Records. American Record Guide wrote that “a more heroic program would be hard to find, and few could play as well as the Armenian-American Poghosyan.”

Oscar-winning screenwriter Alex Dinelaris has said, “Listening to and watching Karine Poghosyan play, fills one with life and energy. The combination of her formidable skill, and her unchecked passion is an experience recommended for anyone who has to be reminded of the artist and art within themselves.”

During the pandemic, Poghosyan performed 100 consecutive free virtual concerts receiving loyal world-wide fans and wide press coverage.

In addition to Carnegie Hall this season, she has given solo performances in Vienna, Chicago, and California. In February, 2023, Poghosyan released her third album Folk Teams on Parma Recordings’ classical label Navona Records, available on Amazon, AppleMusic, Spotify, and other sources.

For the 2023-2024 season, she will return to Carnegie Hall on February 14, 2024, for a special jazz-themed Valentine’s Day program.

Conducting this special program will be Tramm, called by Symphony Magazine as a “Conductor to Watch,” hailed for his choral symphonic and operatic performances, receiving critical acclaim throughout the United States and internationally.

In 2015, as the artistic director and principal conductor of the MidAtlantic Artistic Productions, he made his Carnegie Hall debut at Stern Auditorium. From 2008 to 2012, he served as director of the New Jersey State Opera. And in 2009, the HDTV broadcast with PBS affiliate NJN of the “Verdi Requiem: Live from Ocean Grove”, honored him with a prestigious Emmy nomination. He has also been featured on two National Public Radio broadcasts.

Tramm also is a proficient educator and is the associate professor and director of choral activities at Seton Hall University, leading the University Chorus, Chamber Choir and Orchestra. In 2017, Seton Hall presented him with the “University Faculty Teacher of the Year” award.

Jason Tramm

In 2003, Tramm was honored with the “Rising Star Award” from SUNY, joining such world famous Metropolitan Opera luminaries as Renee Fleming and Stephanie Blythe who have also been feted with this much sought-after award.

Well known as a collector, curator, benefactor and civic leader, Vicki Shoghag Hovanessian who is organizing this unique concert, was recently appointed as cultural advisor to the Embassy of Armenia in Washington, DC. Since 1995, Hovanessian has promoted the works of Armenian artists through showings in galleries, private viewings and art fairs with high standards.

During her youth in Beirut, Lebanon, she attended the Armenian Evangelical College (high school), and the Beirut College for Women. At the Art Institute of Chicago, and at Sotheby’s Educational Institute in New York, she studied contemporary art. She is the former director of “Vicki Hovanessian Contemporary Art.”

Among her professional art presentations at St. Vartan Cathedral in New York are “Giving Form to Faith (2008)”, “Crosses and Icons: Celebrating Spirituality” (2011), “Legacy of Ten Armenian Artist’s” (2012), “25 Years, 25 Artists”,(2015), and “Artist Avedis Baghdasarian” (2018).

In 2008, Hovanessian was instrumental in bringing Arshile Gorky’s awe-inspiring “Artist and His Mother” painting from the Whitney Museum to the Eastern Armenian Diocese, where it was displayed under armed guard on the 60th anniversary of the artist’s death.

She has also has had award-winning exhibitions of Armenian artists in Chicago, the Northwest Indiana Art Center, the Bergen Community College, Southern Connecticut State University and the Collector’s Forum of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, where she was the chairman from 1994 to 1997.

And in Armenia, Hovanessian’s exhibitions have been viewed at the Yerevan State Museum and other venues and in 2017, she was appointed Diaspora Cultural Advisor to Armen Amirian, Minister of Culture of Armenia.

This special concert at St. Vartan Cathedral has been underwritten by Harry and Suzanne Toufayan, Vicki Hovanessian, and John Mahdessian in memory of his father, Noubar Mahdessian.

The September 20 concert is the first of a planned series of cultural events to be held at St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral. Chairperson of the committee is Hovanessian, with co-chair Seta Pascalian Kantarjian, and members Sossy Setrakian, Lily Sarkissian, Alla Terzyan and Tamar Barsamian Degermenci.

Eastern Diocesan Primate Fr. Mesrop Parsamyan has remarked, “With prayers for the Republics of Armenia and Artsakh and their people, and with a heart brimming with hope, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to all those who have contributed to this memorable event, and to each individual who joins in this celebration of music, unity, and the indomitable Armenian spirit.”


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