God Bless the Talented Youth of Our Church!

What a high calibre performance was presented by our Church Youth with Boghos Keleshian, choirmaster, musical/artistic director and simply Maestro at the helm of the ACYA Concert commemorating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Gomidas Vartabed on Sunday 29 September held at the Zenith Theatre in Chatswood. The event truly reflected what good leadership, talent, resourcefulness and dedicated teamwork can achieve.

Joining the Church Youth on the concert program and stage were the tender voices and at times mischievous but very cute antics of our Sunday school students as well as dancers from the Hamazkaine Armenian Sydney Dance Company, soloist Marianna Poghosian; vocalists Isabelle Marcarian, Lilit Mouradian and Nina Sahagian, pianist Katie Proudian on accompaniment; with the participation of Asbed Anoushian as the young Gomidas and Vartan Keoshgerian the adult Gomidas Vartabed; a haunting voiceover by  Manouk Kotoyan and recitalist Lucy Krjalian. Keynote speaker for the evening was Very Reverend Father Yeremia Abgaryan, Parish Pastor of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Holy Trinity.

The mood was set in darkness, the stage curtain drawn and Sunday school children assembled in the aisles with lit candles illuminating their faces in preparation to walk on stage and open the evening with the Lord’s Prayer. The program took the audience on a journey of Gomidas’ life from a young orphaned boy, Soghomon Soghmonian, who lost  both his parents by the age of 11. Through his composed hymn and folk songs, it highlighted his remarkable singing ability and despite only speaking Turkish and not a word of Armenian,  his aptitude was quickly recognised having been enrolled in the Gevorkian Seminary where he learnt Armenian and by age 24 was ordained  a priest of the Armenian Church. Gomidas had captured the Armenian spirit transcribing Armenian folk music, orchestrating a choir, teaching folk songs and later creating a Liturgy. To say Gomidas greatly impacted Armenian musicology would be correct and history shows this to be the case.  He felt the depth of the folk spirit, such simplicity and naturalness in his compositions could never be taught, the greatness was within him which he discovered through the natural world.

Despite the events of the Armenian Genocide of 1915 that led to Gomidas’ arrest alongside many Armenian intellectuals and the aftermath which impacted on his mental state, Gomidas’ life and contribution can only be concluded with the final narration: “The Armenian people recognise their soul and spiritual identity in Gomida’s songs. Gomidas is a beginning who has no end. He placed Armenian song in the eternal library of God amongst Bach, Mozart and others who represent greatness. Gomidas is our path to salvation. He will live with the Armenian people, the Armenian peoplewilllive with him, forever and always.”

At the conclusion of the  evening, Archbishop Haigazoun Najarian addressed the audience commending the high standard of the production, the performers and emphasised his admiration of Maestro Boghos Keleshian for taking on such an ambitious project over this short time. He expressed the wonderment that 100 years after the horror of the Armenian Genocide and the attempt to annihilate a people, Gomidas continues to influence and reverberate in the soul of Armenians and youthful at that on these far shores, something which Gomidas himself, could never have imagined to be.

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