Exhilarating, Inspiring, Ethereal: The National Chamber Orchestra of Armenia

Donors Andrea Marootian and Martin Marootian with NCOA Maestro Aram Gharabekian (center) and the NCOA women musicians of the National Chamber Orchestra of Armenia. Photo by Garik Gyurjyan

LOS ANGELES–The audience gathered at the estate of Paulette and Mark Geragos on Monday September 1, shared in an almost spiritual experience with their warm and generous hosts as they listened raptly to the musicians of the National Chamber Orchestra of Armenia under the baton of Maestro Aram Gharabekian.

The performers so engaged their listeners that their music seemed to transcend time and space.

This was in fact a gathering of very special individuals who believe in the universal, positive energy of music and have committed themselves financially to the goal of ensuring that the NCOA performs with the best possible musical instrumen’s available.

The surreal and beautiful performance at the Geragos estate followed on the heels of the Saroyan Centennial celebration in Fresno, CA. The concert created a close bond between the NCOA and the gathered donors who have undertaken to upgrade and replace the orchestra’s instrumen’s, which are presently in substandard to poor condition.

Last program included scores by Aram Khachaturian, Bizet, Komitas, Strauss, and Leroy Anderson.

The private performance was an invitation-only tribute to NCOA donors, as a token of gratitude for their support. The NCOA’s largest donor to date is Mr. Martin Marootian, who has contributed to the NCOA in memory of his wife, Seda. The Friends of the NCOA has set out to raise $500,000 in the next two years. $65,000 has been raised in the last 4 months through donations.

“This was an unprecedented event with its scope and scale, which undoubtedly will have a great positive impact for the future of the NCOA,” said NCOA Maestro Aram Gharabekian. “I am deeply grateful to Paulette and Mark Geragos who graciously hosted the event at their beautiful home and many friends and donors who believe in NCOA and made this important campaign a success.”

These visionaries want to make sure that the National Chamber Orchestra of Armenia’s fourteen violins, four violas, four cellos, and two double basses faithfully resonate the voices of composers throughout the internationally famed concert halls in which it performs.

Did you know that the average cost per instrument ranges from $20,000 to $25,000? The Friends of NCOA who will commission the instrument makers directly will manage all funds raised.

Acorriding to Alina Koutnouyan, a member of the Friends of NCOA’s Instrument Replacement Fundraising Committee, the Private Donor Reception & Performance was a rare opportunity to witness the fantastic talent and vigor of the NCOA musicians.

“If these musicians can play this well, with the current poor and sub-standard instrumen’s, imagine what they can do with better quality instrumen’s,” she said. “We can make a difference in the opportunities that lie ahead for NCOA, and the powerful, positive impression they leave on audiences around the globe.”

The Friends of NCOA Instrument Replacement Fundraising Committee spared no efforts organizing this endeavor and secured the greatest possible support from the Armenian community of Los Angeles to that end. His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Armenian Church of North America Western Diocese; Reverend Father Vazken Atmajian, representing His Eminence Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America; and Deputy Consul General to Armenia, the Honorable Mesrop Shaboyan, representing the Honorable Consul General of Armenia, Armen Liloyan. The Armenian-American media was present with reporters from Horizon TV, Apo Boghigian, the Editor In Chief of the Azbarez Daily, Oshin Keshishian of the Armenian Observer, and ATV. In addition, the services were generously donated by their respective providers, thus making sure that all the funds went directly to the procurement of instrumen’s.

In April 1997, Armenia’s Ministry of Culture extended a special invitation to Armenian- American conductor Aram Gharabekian and appointed him Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the newly formed National Chamber Orchestra of Armenia. The twenty-five members of the NCOA are the finest chamber music players in Armenia and are all graduates of the Komitas Conservatory in Yerevan. Under the dynamic leadership of Maestro Gharabekian, the NCOA is now in its eleventh season. Its performances have been lauded and its programming hailed as distinctive. The ensemble has enjoyed a long string of triumphs and international acclaim.

“The orchestra is fantastic,” Dr. Robert Marsh, a donor for the NCOA event said. “I have heard orchestras in the concert halls of a majority of countries in Europe, and I would be proud to hear them in any such venue. ”

The NCOA is “different” because it performs with the aim of contributing not only to the cultural life of its public but also to the time and space in which they live. Their dedicated benefit concerts have ranged from aiding the rebuilding of the war-torn Applied Arts and Sciences College in Nagorno-Karabakh to the preservation of the environment and historic sites in Armenia.

They are proactive!

“This is not just a talented Armenian Chamber Orchestra. This is truly a talented chamber orchestra that happens to be Armenian,” Mark Geragos told reporters after the concert. “Serene, yet inspirational. Brilliant, yet calming.”

“The best way to describe it is indescribable,” he said.

“It’s really a once in a lifetime opportunity and we are thrilled to host them, his wife, Paullete, added. “They are perfect, really perfect, and the more help they get, the better.”

To donate, send checks to P. O. Box 561, Montrose, CA 91021. Make checks payable to the Friends of NCOA.

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