LOS ANGELES—On Sunday, March 9, as Bach’s Toccata in F was piping through Walt Disney Concert Hall, a lesser-known but equally grand performance was taking place across the street at The Colburn School’s Zipper Hall. Maestro Greg Hosharian, son of the late Maestro Edward Hosharian, captivated a full-capacity audience as he led the Armenian Pops Orchestra in “A Celebration of Tradition: An Evening of Symphonic Interpretations of Timeless Melodies.”
The concert was the second in a series of productions by the Edward Hosharian Scholarship Fund (EHSF), which was established in 1991 to preserve, promote and enhance Armenian classical and ethnic music. Proceeds from the event benefitted the EHSF, which awards scholarships to college-level students of Armenian descent pursuing careers in music.
Greg Hosharian’s original composition Waters of Lake Sevan, an emotional and exhilarating journey through Armenia’s soulful history, set the tone for a spiritually euphoric evening. This was followed by renditions of “Caucasian Cavaliers” and “Triumph,” two of Edward Hosharian’s fiery arrangements from Armenian Suite No. 2. Aram Khachaturian’s world-renowned “Sabre Dance” segued into the debut of Greg Hosharian’s tango-like frolic “Celebration.”
Trumpet virtuoso Tom Woo was fascinating in his resilient performance of Alexander Arutiunian’s Trumpet Concerto in A-flat major. Mezzo-soprano Talin Nalbandian, the evening’s featured soloist and recipient of the 2012 EHSF scholarship, validated Armenian classics “Pari Arakil” and “Yerevan Erebuni” with her sonant passion.
The concert came to a dazzling conclusion with Greg Hosharian’s exhilarating interpretation of the Georgian Kintouri dance. Arranged for symphony orchestra for the first time, the five-part Kinto Suite maintained the sound of the dhol (Armenian hand drum), included a Gershwin-esque jazz interlude, playfully intertwined harmonic woodwinds and strings, and bellowed with clamoring brass and percussion.
The exuberant crowd roared with a standing ovation, refusing to depart until the maestro indulged them with two encores. All would agree that the orchestra’s impromptu version of “Happy Birthday” to celebrate Greg Hosharian’s 37th was the icing on the cake.