Artists Take On Unique Challenge Of Performing At Shuttle Ceremony

The OMSF team. From left: Arsine Shirvanian, Alina Koutnouyan, Varand Gourjian, Aida Amirkhanian, Aram Gharabekian, Raffi Ganoumian, Keith Dixon, and Mark Mardoyan. Photo courtesy of the OMSF

Endeavour will land at LAX on September 20

LOS ANGELES—A group of more than 30 artists from the Open Music Society Foundation (OMSF) will perform during the arrival ceremony of Space Shuttle Endeavour, an invitation-only event which will be held at Los Angeles International Airport on September 20.

Endeavour, which completed its last mission in 2011, will be flown on the back of a modified Boeing 747 from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center to LAX. It will remain at the airport a few weeks before being transferred to the California Science Center, which was named by NASA as the new home of the shuttle.

A Los Angeles-based arts organization, the OMSF has been working closely with the California Science Center Foundation to design an integrated artistic program for the shuttle’s arrival ceremony. Components of the program will be performed at various stages of the event, which will include appearances by dignitaries, the dramatic landing and taxiing of Endeavour, and rolling of the red carpet to welcome the storied spacecraft. The ceremony will take place at an United Airlines hangar.

“Imagine being part of such an extraordinary celebration,” said Aram Gharabekian, the OMSF’s artistic director and conductor. “The arrival ceremony will engage the entire Greater Los Angeles community, like a large, united family paying homage to an American scientific icon, through an event we will experience only once in our lifetime.”

“I feel privileged to be surrounded with so many talented professionals who make up our team,” Gharabekian continued. “And it’s been a joy working with the California Science Center team, led by President and CEO Jeff Rudolph, whose vision, enthusiasm, and support have been a source of inspiration. ”

Gharabekian also spoke of the daunting task of mounting artistic performances in an industrial environment. “We were faced with three main challenges: the excessive noise level of LAX, one of the nation’s busiest airports; the absence of a performance stage inside the hangar; and the lack of natural acoustics in the structure,” he explained. “We had to be creative in an unorthodox manner to overcome these challenges. Thanks to the resourcefulness and guidance of our production team, we designed performances which will take place in ‘virtual’ and ‘mobile’ spaces inside and outside the hangar, with minimal noise interference from plane takeoffs and landings.” Gharabekian added that the production team “will capture every moment and emotion of this historic event on film.”

Apart from Gharabekian, the OMSF artistic team includes Aida Amirkhanian. A dancer, choreographer, theater director, and Iyengar Yoga instructor, Amirkhanian has performed and collaborated with several world-renowned companies, among them Maurice Béjart’s Ballet du XXème Siècle, the Human Veins Dance Theatre, the Canberra Dance Theatre, and Jigsaw Theatre Company. Amirkhanian has performed at many of the world’s most prestigious venues, among them Covent Garden in London, Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens, and the Teatro Colon in  Buenos Aires.

The OMSF production team is headed by executive producer Alina Koutnouyan, the foundation’s COO and a founding member of its Board. “We are fortunate to be collaborating with some of the best talent in the business,” Koutnouyan said. “Our production and artistic teams have come up with some wonderful solutions to overcome the logistical difficulties of performing at an airport, within the limited time frame of the arrival ceremony. We are equally privileged to have a skilled Board task force, which has taken on the challenge of raising funds in a very short span, aiming to assist the California Science Center in organizing Endeavour’s arrival ceremony.”

Members of the production team include producer Keith Dixon, live-television director Mark Mardoyan, production director Raffi Ganoumian, and event designer Arsine Shirvanian.

Owner of Patterson Avenue Productions, Keith Dixon has executive-produced scores of corporate events throughout the globe, produced or directed more than 3,000 corporate television productions, and directed more than 400 interactive, multilingual television broadcasts.

Emmy-Award-winning live-television director Mark Mardoyan’s credits include top-rated productions such as “World Magic Awards,” “Masters of Illusion,” “Impossible Magic,” “Heroes Among Us,” and “Hollywood Christmas Parade.”

Raffi Ganoumian of Neptune Productions is a highly regarded event producer. His body of work includes major productions such as the Congressional Medal of Honor ceremony at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, and promotional events for Nike, Hennessy Black, and DirecTV.

Arsine Shirvanian of Shirvan Design is an acclaimed event designer, with a portfolio that includes numerous corporate and private occasions. Shirvanian’s work has been featured in a number of international publications.

As excitement builds, with rehearsals continuing at an intense pace in the run-up to Space Shuttle Endeavor’s arrival ceremony, Alina Koutnouyan and OMSF founding Board member and CFO Varand Gourjian expressed gratitude to the California Science Center.

“Amidst the myriad of logistical details and events spearheaded by the California Science Center’s visionary leadership, President and CEO Jeff Rudolph and his colleagues were nonetheless able to devote serious thought and effort to making the arrival ceremony an unforgettable occasion,” Koutnouyan said.

Gourjian, on his part, stated, “It has been a pleasure working with a receptive, forward-thinking institution such as the California Science Center. We have established a very trusting and mutually respectful relationship, and it’s been great to witness the synergy between our teams, in creating a memorable arrival for the shuttle.”

On the night of October 12, Endeavour will leave LAX, arriving the next morning at Inglewood City Hall. From there the shuttle will travel through city streets to the California Science Center — the first time a spacecraft will be transported through urban roadways. Beginning October 30, Endeavour will be on display at the California Science Center’s Samuel Oschin Space Shuttle Endeavour Display Pavilion while the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, a new addition to the Science Center, is being built. The new wing is slated to be completed in 2017.

About the OMSF: The Open Music Society Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing musical education and mentorship for young talent, and increasing public interest in the arts through Open Music Fest, an unprecedented and unique series of arts festivals in which artistic collaboration embraces cultural diversity, fostering mutual understanding and appreciation. For more information, please visit


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