Armenian Mirror Spectator





yerazBy Alin K. Gregorian


Mirror-Spectator Staff

WINCHESTER, Mass. — The volunteers of YerazArt put together yet another elegant soirée on October 3 to raise funds for young musicians in Armenia. This year the event was held at the home of Raffi and Nina Festekjian. This was the second time they hosted a YerazArt reception.
Around 100 guests were present and almost $50,000 was raised for YerazArt’s Instrument Donation Program, as well as other educational initiatives, including funding for young musicians to attend master classes and participate in international competitions.
The featured guest musician was clarinetist Narek Arutyunian. He was born in Gumri, Armenia in 1992 and moved to Moscow at a young age. He graduated from the Moscow State Conservatory and is currently a student at the Juilliard School in New York. He has won numerous prizes, including first prize in the International Young Musicians Competition in Prague and the Musical Youth of the Planet Competition in Moscow.
He has performed extensively across the United States, in Australia, Asia, and in Europe, where he appeared at the Louvre in Paris and the Palazzo del Principe in Genoa, among other places.
According to YerazArt board member chair Nicole Babikian Hajjar, some schools receiving aid are in Yerevan (Tchaikovsky, Sayat Nova and Jrbashyan – 400 students) while others are in remote areas (Gumri School No 4 -171 students and No 5- 184 students).
“Our main focus remains on what we call rare instruments, mainly woodwind and brass — clarinet, trumpet, flute, trombone, French horn — disciplines that are endangered in Armenia for lack of available instruments,” she said.
She also stressed that the group seeks out rural schools as Yerevan often gets more attention.
“It takes a vast amount of resources on our part to fulfill our commitment to the many young and talented musicians of Armenia: we currently have an annual operating budget of $30,000 for our activities and operations in Armenia. With one person only on our pay-roll, our Armenia Director Arman Padaryan, a major part of the work gets done here in Boston, thanks to a team of dedicated volunteers- my fellow Board members- that I would like to acknowledge and thank tonight: Anna Afeyan, Nina Festekjian, Vahe Ghahraman, Christine Kahvejian, Sargis Karapetyan, Seza Seraderian, Arlette Yegumians and Sylvie Zakarian,” she said in her comments.
She also paid special tribute to YerazArt co-founders and continuous supporters Raffi Festekjian and Noubar Afeyan.
Hajjar was thrilled with the gathering, adding “it was a record attendance,” and expressed her pleasure that the annual fundraiser has become “a signature event” in the Boston area.
Next year, she promised said the format would be different in order to pay tribute to the group’s 10th anniversary.
In his comments, Festekjian said, “In my personal view, it is all about culture for us as a people. Without classical music, what do we have?”
Through the music, he said, Armenians can communicate who they are to the world as well help maintain and nurture that culture in Armenia. He thanked those assembled for their support.
Hajjar said that the students who have either performed for the galas or who have been given aid in the past have all gone on to win awards internationally.
But of course, everyone had gathered to hear the evening’s guest artist, Narek Arutyunian — and he did not disappoint.
Arutyunian thrilled those assembled with his incredible musical skills as well as his ease and charm. He explained how he became a clarinetist, thanks to his father’s playing of folk melodies on the clarinet at weddings and his mother’s love of classical music. His mother, he said, bought him a copy of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto when he was 10 and, he said, he was “mesmerized.”
He thanked YerazArt and the audience, adding, “No words can say how grateful I am [for your work] and I hope you continue.”
Arutyunian performed a variety of pieces, including Spanish Capriccio for Clarinet by Ernesto Cavalli, Fantasy for Piano and Clarinet by Schumann and the third movement from Trio for Violin, Piano and Clarinet by Aram Khachaturian as well as a piece for violin by Pablo Sarasate which he had arranged and transcribed for the clarinet himself.
He left himself and the audience breathless and received a standing ovation.
Nune Hakobyan, his accompanist on the piano who kept up with him flawlessly, deflected any praise directed at her, adding, “With a musician like this, you get even more motivated and engaged. You have to breathe with him.”
Sylvie Zakarian Meguerditchian was delighted with the performance. “I think it was amazing. I thought it was the highest level of artistry. With his enthusiasm he was able to take his audience with him.”
Another guest, Armineh Mirzabegian, said, “Music unites people. Plus I had heard him play before and wanted to see him play in a more intimate setting.”
Raffi Festekjian said, “He is a fantastic talent. It is the kind of talent we want to encourage.”
Since its inception almost a decade ago, YerazArt Foundation has been identifying young, talented musicians from Armenia and assisting them with reaching their full artistic potential. YerazArt programs offer professional development opportunities and financial assistance to musicians to participate in master classes and international competitions. Through YerazArt’s Advisory Board, young Armenian talents gain access to an extensive support network of music professionals and academia, in Armenia and abroad, which provides mentoring, career counseling, and admission opportunities to the best music programs worldwide. Over the last few years, YerazArt has also instituted a successful Instrument Donation Program, both in Yerevan and in remote areas, with a primary focus on disciplines and instruments that are in danger of extinction such as the woodwind and brass instruments.
For more information about the Yerazart Foundation and its programs, visit



Yeraz Narek Arutyunian1
The guest performer at the YerazArt Foundation’s Dinner Reception and Benefit Concert on October 3, clarinetist Narek Arutyunian, is an artist who “reaches passionate depths with seemingly effortless technical prowess and beguiling sensitivity” (The Washington Post).

Arutyunian has performed the Copland Clarinet Concerto with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Alice Tully Hall as well as Artie Shaw’s Concerto for Clarinet with The Boston Pops. Mr. Arutyunian has also appeared as soloist with the Meridian Symphony, the Albany Symphony, and the Longwood Symphony. He has performed recitals at the Morgan Library and Museum, the Washington Center for the Performing Arts, the Lied Center of Kansas, the Buffalo Chamber Music Society, the Weis Center for the Performing Arts, the Westport Arts Center, the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts, Music for Youth, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall, to name a few.

Arutyunian has performed extensively in Australia, Asia, and in Europe, where he appeared at the Louvre in Paris and the Palazzo del Principe in Genoa, among others. Born in 1992 in Gyumri, Armenia, Arutyunian graduated from the Moscow State Conservatory. By the age of 16, he had already won First Prizes in the International Young Musicians Competition in Prague and the Musical Youth of the Planet Competition in Moscow. A winner of the 2010 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, he was presented in debut recitals at Merkin Concert Hall and the Kennedy Center to rave reviews. Arutyunian’s growing career has also included numerous educational outreach programs in New York City public schools and around the country. He lives in New York City, and works with Charles Neidich at the Juilliard School.



YerazArt Fellow, 24-year-old violinist Hrayr Karapetyan, won Grand Prix at the 1st International Music Competition Triomphede l’Art held in Brussels (Belgium) held from August 24 to 30, 2015.


He is a student at the Leuven Conservatory of Music (LUCA) in Belgium. Hrayr was a participant in the YerazArt North American Concert Tour in 2009.





Harutyun Melikyan - 10 years old - awarded 2nd prize in the Infantile Category at the Maria Herrero Piano Competition held in Granada (Spain) from July 20 to 24, 2015.

Harutyun is a student at Jrbashyan Music School in Yerevan.


YerazArt Fellow, 22-year-old soprano Mane Galoyan, awarded Bronze in the Voice Category at the 15th Annual International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow on July 1, 2015

Mane Galoyan received her bachelor’s degree at the Yerevan State Komitas Conservatory in the class of Prof. Susanna Martirosyan (2014). In 2009 she won at the Renaissance International Contest-Festival in Gyumri (Armenia). In 2013 she won a gold medal at the 7th Youth Delphic Games in Kazakhstan, was awarded the Presidential Prize of Armenia, and came in second at the 6th International Competition of Opera Singers “Saint Petersburg”. In 2014 the singer was selected to join the Young Artists Vocal Academy at the Houston Grand Opera. That same year she won a prize at the 33rd International Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition in Dusseldorf. She also won the 7th Bibigul Tulegenova International Vocal Competition in Astana (Kazakhstan) and received fourth prize at the 6th China International Voice Competition in Ningbo. In 2015 she won the 27th Concert of Arias: Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Opera Singers at the Houston Grand Opera.





YerazArt Fellow, 15-year-old violin prodigy Diana Adamyan, to perform at a concert dedicated to the Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide Centennial in London on July 21, 2015

YerazArt Fellow, 15-year-old violin prodigy Diana Adamyan, was invited to perform with Maestro Pinchas Zukerman and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in a concert dedicated to the Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide Centennial in London on July 21, 2015. In addition, for the second year in a row, Diana has been invited to the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Canada where she will attend their Young Artists Program in June. Last year, Diana participated on a full scholarship at the 16th Annual National Arts Centre Summer Music Institute, Young Artists Program, where she worked with Maestro Pinchas Zukerman, Music Director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra, along with 70 other gifted students from Canada and abroad who were all chosen through a highly competitive selection process.





YerazArt Fellow Mane Galoyan - Wins First Prize at Houston Grand Opera Concert of Arias Competition (February 2015)

YerazArt Fellow, 21-year-old soprano Mane Galoyan, was awarded the first place prize of $10,000 at the 27th Annual Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers on February 5, at the Houston Grand Opera (Texas).
Galoyan was the featured artist at the YerazArt Foundation’s Annual Benefit Event this past fall in Belmont, Massachusetts. Earlier in 2014, with support from YerazArt, Mane participated in two international competitions: one in Kazakhstan (7th International Singing Competition after Bibigul Telegenova, September 2014), where she also won First Prize, and more recently in China (Fifth China International Vocal Competition Ningbo, November 2014), where she ranked 4th.
Mane’s connection to YerazArt dates back to 2009, when she was invited to take part in the YerazArt North American Concert Tour in the fall of that year.

Daniel Melkonyan Wins Bronze Nutcracker in Moscow (December 2014)

15-year-old trumpet player Daniel Melkonyan was awarded the Bronze Nutcracker, claiming Third Place at the 15th Annual International Nutcracker TV Contest for Young Musicians held in December 2014, in Moscow. This year 49 young musicians had applied to participate in the wind instruments category. Out of 19 trumpeters, only two were chosen to participate – from Russia and Armenia. This is the first time in the competition’s history that an Armenian wind instrumentalist is awarded a prize. Melkonyan has recently been invited to participate at the New Names of CIS Countries Concert to be held in March 2015 in Voronezh - the city named as the cultural capital of Russia in 2015.
Through our Instrument Donation Program, YerazArt provided new instruments, including a trumpet, to Melkonyan’s school - the Tchaikovsky Special Music School Yerevan in 2013. In addition YerazArt facilitated Daniel's participation in the Nutcracker competition and the upcoming New names of CIS Countries Concert through our Professional Development Program.



Violin Prodigy Diana Adamyan Invited to attend Pinchas Zukerman Young Artists Program in Canada (June 2014)

YerazArt Fellow and 14-year-old violin prodigy Diana Adamyan has been invited to participate on a full scholarship at the 16th Annual National Arts Centre Summer Music Institute, Young Artists Program to be held in Ottawa, Canada, in June.
Diana will be working with Maestro Pinchas Zukerman, Music Director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra, along with 70 other gifted students from Canada and abroad who were all chosen through a highly competitive selection process.
Adamyan is the 2012 winner of the Silver Nutcracker Award, at the prestigious Nutcracker International TV contest for Young Musicians, annually held in Moscow. In 2013, she was invited to perform to a mesmerized crowd at the YerazArt annual benefit held in Massachusetts (USA).