‘Voices from Vanadzor’

The Vanadzor choir performs

BY CATHERINE YESAYAN

When you arrive in Armenia, you are ushered to far flung places around the country to see the vestiges of an ancient  kingdom that once spread across the land, dotted with thousands of world’s oldest churches and monasteries. Vanadzor, the third most populated city in Armenia, is not one of those places.

But if Vanadzor doesn’t have a steady stream of tourists, it still has beauty and a rich culture.  Situated in the breathtakingly beautiful Province of Lori, Vanadzor is surrounded with verdant mountains which give the city spectacular views. Vanadzor is also known as the City of music and art.

This year I had the pleasure of visiting Vanadzor twice.  The reason was that I am part of the Vanadzor and Pasadena sister cities program and I was carrying the torch for Pasadena.

Sister Cities program was established in 1956 by president Eisenhower in the United States.  The idea was to achieve international peace through people-to-people interactions.

To celebrate the 20 years of friendship between the two cities, Vanadzor under the direction of Sofya Kalantaryan has arranged a delegation of young musicians to perform in Pasadena this September 30th.

My  first visit to Vanadzor was to meet Sofya, the liaison between the two cities who has undertaken the Herculean job of bringing the kids to Pasadena to perform.

From getting their visas, to buying shoes and outfits, to arranging the order of the program, and gathering the musicians, she has done an amazing job that has put me in awe.

Before even having  met Sofya, I had already formed a wonderful opinion through her emails written in English.  And when I met and saw her unwavering devotion to the kids, my admiration for her swelled even more.

My second visit to Vanadzor was to hear the dress rehearsal of the concert,  at the auditorium of Vandzor’s College of Art.  The hall was packed with 300 spectators who donated money to defer the kids’ travel expenses.

The musicians included the gifted protege Kanon player Narek Kazazyan,  a girls chorus under the direction of Sergey Harutunyan and several accompanying musicians, including talented violinist Ellen Harutunyan along with the folk rock band Lav-Eli.

From the sweeping chords on the Kanon, to Komitas songs, to Lav-Eli contemporary originals, the  eclectic blend worked magic! For the final song, the whole group performed “Garouneh Yekel” a Lav-Eli band creation.  The concert was a blend of ancient and modern, capturing the musical spirit of Vanadzor. The full house audience clapped in unison and rose to their feet  in appreciation.

The young talented musicians are going to perform this coming Sunday at 6p.m.  at the A.G.B.U.’s Vatche & Tamar Manoukian Cultural Center Theater
in Pasadena.

The hope is that we can give a warm welcome to these brilliant youngsters who are coming all the way from Vanadzor, Armenia, by greeting them with a packed house.

This is an event not to be missed.  I am positive the concert will give the audience a new cultural layer that has been unknown to them, as it was to me.

Tickets are priced at $15 and limited amount of priority sitting at $50.

Purchase tickets.

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