Arshak II Opera Gala to Benefit Music School in Armenia

ARMENIA FUND–INC. TO IMPLEMENT RECONSTRUCTION OF VANADZOR MUSIC SCHOOL

SAN FRANCISCO–The musical splendor–pageantry and artistry of the world premiere production of Arshak II will grace the stage of the San Francisco Opera and positively impact the future of music education in Vanazdor–Armenia. The Arshak II Opera Committee is pleased to announce that the proceeds from the September 8–2001 Gala Opening Night will benefit the Vanadzor Music School in the Lori Region of the Republic of Armenia.

Under the auspices of the Honorary Chairmen – Armenian President Robert Kocharian–His Holiness Karekin II Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenia’s–His Holiness Aram I Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia–and California Governor Gray Davis – the Arshak II Gala will benefit music education in Armenia by utilizing the funds to reconstruct the music school and provide new interior furnishings. Additional funds from the event will be used for teacher salaries–scholarships and equipment. "The next Tigran Chukhadjian is studying his or her music right now. It is gratifying and appropriate that the Arshak II project–in a small way–help discover–encourage and support the true riches of Armenia," said Denise LaPointe–Arshak II Opera Committee co-chair.

The 1988 earthquake devastating the northern region of Armenia claimed the lives of over 25,000–left thousands homeless and destroyed hundreds of schools–which mostly remain dilapidated and unstable. The total reconstruction efforts of the Music School will be $195,000.00 with the majority of the funds to be raised from gala proceeds–and the balance by Armenia Fund–Inc. (AFI).

Located in Armenia’s third largest city–the Vanadzor Music School–prior to the earthquake–had an enrollment of 500 children between ages seven to fourteen. The exterior of the building remains standing–while its interior is destroyed–rendering the school seismically unsound. Currently–100 students attend evening classes and practice in temporary lien-to structures outside the grounds of the former school. "We are pleased that the efforts of so many to showcase Armenian culture in San Francisco will have the added benefit of assisting a music school in Armenia," said Flora Dunaians–Arshak II Opera Gala host and Gala Committee co-chair. Arshak II Opera Gala hosts include Louise Manoogian Simone–George and Flora Dunaians–Hirair and Anna Hovnanian–and Roger Strauch and Dr. Julie Kulhanjian Strauch.

AFI–a Los Angeles based nonprofit organization–will undertake the complete reconstruction efforts of the school. "I commend the commitment and vision of the Arshak II Opera Committee for taking proactive steps in providing the youth of Vanadzor the opportunity to nurture–develop and display their extraordinary musical talents," said Zaven Khanjian–president of AFI. "Armenia Fund looks forward to working with the Arshak II Opera Committee to implement this important educational project and assist in guaranteeing a brighter future for Armenia," concluded Khanjian.

AFI having completed 172 construction projects in Armenia with total funding of approximately $72 million–will rebuild the interior of the school–stabilize the foundation and provide essential improvemen’s necessary for all operations. Similar projects completed by AFI include the Vanadzor Town School and the Music School in Spitak. AFI is the US West Coast affiliate of the "Hayastan" All Armenian Fund headquartered in Yerevan–Armenia. Since 1996–AFI has generated over $19.5 million to help build and complete the Goris-Stepanakert Highway and start the North-South Highway in Karabakh.

Updated news and information on Arshak II Committee activities can be found on www.arskakopera.com. For further information–please call (415) 249-9149.

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