Making Dreams Come True for Young Musicians

By Alin K. Gregorian
Mirror-Spectator Staff

LEXINGTON, Mass. — Anna and Noubar Afeyan hosted a benefit gala reception and recital at their home on October 26, for the YerazArt Foundation. The program featured 13-year old violin prodigy Diana Adamyan from Armenia. Adamyan is the 2012 winner of the Silver Nutcracker at the Nutcracker International TV Contest for Young Musicians. She had participated in the Moscow-based competition with the help of YerazArt Foundation.

Noubar Afeyan and Raffi Festekjian founded the non-profit YerazArt several years ago in order to help young musicians in Armenia. Through the years, the group has adapted its goals and activities in order to help with the most urgent needs for young musicians in Armenia. Whereas in previous years a group of young musicians would
be brought to tour the US, now the foundation helps musicians, donates instruments to music schools both in Yerevan and remote areas and offers some financial support to music teachers in Armenia in the process.

YerazArt Executive Board Chair Nicole Babikian Hajjar spoke about the mission of YerazArt at the event.
“Our mission is twofold. At the micro level, we help young and talented musicians in Armenia seize opportunities to be the best they can. This can mean anything from being able to participate in an international competition abroad, being able to attend a priceless master class with a visiting artist or simply being able to play on a better instrument,” she said. In addition to these efforts, the group also assists music schools especially in more remote areas in Armenia — such as Kapan, Aparan, Talin and Gumri — by donating instruments to them and helping pay the salaries of music teachers, Hajjar noted.
“We also strive to revive some disciplines that are in danger of extinction for the lack of available and quality instruments,” she added. One such case is the oboe.
Both Hajjar and Anna Afeyan in their comments spoke about the launching of a Sistema music program in Armenia. Sistema was originally founded in Venezuela 40 years ago, targeting the most economically and socially vulnerable children and teaching them to play musical instruments in orchestras. The goal has been not only to teach the children music but also to help them think collaboratively in an orchestra setting. “At a time when the world becomes ever more global but ever more fractured, it is all the more befitting to be reminded of the role of music as a universal language and a universal connector,” Hajjar said.

Hajjar noted that the evening had raised enough funds to cover the entire budget for the upcoming year in Armenia. After cocktails and dinner, Adamyan, accompanied on the piano by local pianist, Nune Hakobyan, played Keler Tsoler by Komitas, and arranged by Dumbayeve; Meditation by Jules Massenet, two pieces by Fritz Kreisler and La Ronde de Lutins, by Antonio Bazzini. After the thunderous applause that greeted the performance, they played Groong, by Komitas and arranged by Aslamazyan.

Raffi Festekjian, left, with Anthony Barsamian

Anna and Noubar Afeyan

From left, Nune Hakobyan, Diana Adamyan and Nicole Babikian Hajjar

The 13-year-old Adamyan was born into a musical family; both her parents are violinists with the National Chamber Orchestra of Armenia, with her father the orchestra’s concertmaster. Adamyan seemed transported to another realm during the performance. Gone was the shy young girl and in her place stood a mature musician, fully in command of a large audience. Hakobyan, praising the young violinist, said,“she creates a unique world of sounds. She will go very far. She has natural talent. We will hear big things about her. She has such technique, feeling and musicality.” Anna Afeyan summed up what many in the audience thought: “It was a pleasure to listen to her.We shared a special moment. She has a natural musicality.” Sylvie Zakarian, a YerazArt board member and a classically-trained percussionist and marimba player, praised Adamyan’s technical achievement. “She touched everyone. It was not cliché,” she said. “You could clearly see she was enjoying it.” Noubar Afeyan, adding his voice in thanking the guests for supporting YerazArt, noted that the piano played by Hakobyan had been played by many hands, both advanced and beginner, since it had originally belonged to his mother, who had taught piano in Beirut.

For more information on the organization, visit

The YerazArt Foundation has invited 13-year old violin prodigy Diana Adamyan from Armenia to perform at its annual benefit event to be hosted by YerazArt co-founders, Noubar and Anna Afeyan, in their Lexington (Massachusetts) residence on October 26, 2013.

Adamyan is the 2012 winner of the Silver Nutcracker at the Nutcracker International TV Contest for Young Musicians. The YerazArt Foundation had supported her to participate in this prestigious competition annually held in Moscow.

All proceeds from the event will benefit the YerazArt Foundation’s Instrument Donation Program and other educational initiatives in Armenia.
For the third year in a row, YerazArt moved ahead with its Instrument Donation Program, in a constant effort to alleviate the financial burden of select music schools and to revive some disciplines that are in danger of extinction for lack of new or sufficient instruments.
The following schools were selected to benefit from this year’s Instrument Donation Program:
In Februrary, Aparan Music School received two new pianos.
In the same month, Sayat Nova Music School received one oboe, and YerazArt also provided for a full year of paid instruction by one of the few remaining oboe teachers in Armenia.
In March, Kapan School was gifted 18 much-needed music stands.
Gyumri School received two trumpets in June.
In the same month, Tchaikovsky Special School also received one trumpet.
Finally, in September, Yerevan State Conservatory received one oboe.
YerazArt is currently considering more instrument donation opportunities before the end of the year, including a donation of pianos to the Talin Music School.
Silva Antonyan (Aparan Music School Director) and one of new pianos Davit Melkonyan with his new trumpet in Tchaikovsky Special Music School

Tigran Hekekyan (Sayat-Nova Music School Director) and Harutyun Shakhkyan (oboe professor) at oboe donation ceremony

Hayk Sukiasyan and his new cello bow

Ruzanna Tovmasyan and Iren Pichikyan at Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory with new piccolos.

Gyumri No4 Music School Director Khoren Vardanyan and one of two new trumpets   

YerazArt was involved in the establishment of the Yerevan-based Sistema Armenia under the initiative of pianist, Founder and Executive Director Anna Mikaelian Meschian. Inspired by the original Venezuelan model widely known as El Sistema, Sistema Armenia is a movement aimed at providing children with valuable skills, strengthening communities and promoting cultural engagement through collaborative, ensemble-based music education. 
Over the summer, YerazArt partnered with UNICEF to fund the trip of four young musicians representing Sistema Armenia to participate in the Sistema Europe festival in Vienna from August 2 to 7. In Salzburg, the Armenian quartet also got to meet and play with El Sistema children from Venezuela.


22-year-old pianist, composer and conductor Alexander Iradyan was awarded second prize at the Young Composers' Republican Competition of Chamber Instrumental Music held under the aegis of the Armenian Musical Assembly. This represents a big success at such a young age. 
Iradyan will be traveling to the United States where he plans to pursue his musical education at Florida International University (FIU).
For the second year in a row, YerazArt has successfully implemented a major instrument donation program dedicated this year to the Kapan Art College. After consultations with Ms. Liana Hakobyan, Director of the College, YerazArt donated a set of new instruments ranging from trumpets and flutes to a cello, violin, clarinet, synthesizer and guitar, to meet the needs of this well-established but remote school located in the southern province of Syunik.
“We are extremely grateful to the YerazArt Foundation for donating instruments to our college. This will definitely help revive the long-time tradition of quality music education in our region,” said Hakobyan.

Also this year, YerazArt donated a much-needed oboe to the Spendiaryan Music School in Yerevan, in an effort to gradually address the scarcity of that instrument in Armenia. As a gift marking the 80th anniversary of the school, the new oboe was specially brought from France by renowned pianist and conductor Vahan Mardirossian, Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of the National Chamber Orchestra of Armenia and Orchestre de Caen in France.

YerazArt later donated another oboe to the Tchaikovsky Music School as well.

Violinist Hrayr Karapetyan won the special jury award for best performance of the compulsory program at the 8th Aram Khatchatryan International Competition held in Yerevan in June. Mr. Karapetyan was part of the YerazArt Concert Tour of 2009 and currently serves at the National Ensemble of Soloists under the baton of Maestro Zaven Vardanyan.

YerazArt Fellow Ruzanna Minasyan Wins Second Prize at the Alfred Schnittke Akademie International Piano Competition (March 2012)

Pianist Ruzanna Minasyan won second prize at the Alfred Schnittke Akademie International Piano Competition that was held from March 22 to 25 in Hamburg, Germany. The young pianist was part of the YerazArt Concert Tour of 2006 and is currently honing her skills under the guidance of Professor Bernd Goetzke at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hannover, one of Germany’s most renowned institutions for professional training and academic study.


Yerevan, September 2011 – The Ministry of Culture of Armenia awarded Arman Padaryan,
YerazArt Armenia Country Director, with a Gold Medal recognizing his many achievements in the field of arts and culture development in Armenia. The ceremony took place at the Komitas Chamber Music Hall on September 26. Padaryan, who is also general manager of Hover Chamber Choir and general producer of the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra, dedicated his prize to YerazArt.


On December 20, 2010, YerazArt fellow Harutyun Chkolyan (duduk, class of 2007and 2008) received the Golden Duduk Award from the Los Angeles- based Hakop Khachatrian's Akhtamar Records, in recognition of his outstanding talent. The golden duduk is covered with 160 diamonds and comes along with a golden clef. Chkolyan placed second earlier on at the National Duduk Competition which took place in Yerevan from May 4 to August 10, 2010.


YerazArt fellow Nara Avetisyan (piano, class of 2007) was accepted at the prestigious Cleveland Institute of Music to hone her skills and further her musical education under the expert guidance of renowned Professor Sergei Babayan. She is slated to start in fall of 2011.


YerazArt fellow Mane Galoyan (voice, class of 2009) was awarded Grand Prix at the X International Competition of Young Vocalists of Academic Genre in Yekaterinburg (Russia), which was held February 4 to10, 2011.
The jury was headed by Urals State Conservatory professor and People’s Artist of the USSR Vera Bayeva.


Pianist Aleksandr Iradyan, age 20, was accepted at the Florida International Universtiy - Graduate Program, where he was also granted the Carlos Piantini Teaching Assistantship in Conducting. YerazArt was instrumental in this successful endeavor, offering the young pianist valuable administrative and financial support throughout the year.

YerazArt fellow Mane Harutyunyan awarded 5,000 euro grant to join Frankfurt Conservatory

In December 2009, oboist Mane Harutyunyan, who took part in the YerazArt North American concert tour of 2009, has been awarded a 5,000 euro grant from the Prime Minister of Armenia, Mr. Tigran Sarkissyan, to help cover the tuition costs of her enrollment at the Frankfurt Conservatory (Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Frankfurt am Main) – Germany. Thanks to months- long assistance and guidance from YerazArt, Mane did not stop seeking out opportunities and is now slated to join the Frankfurt Conservatory in April 2010, where she will hone her skills under the direction of Professor Fabian Menzel .

YerazArt trio shares spotlight on Komitas 140 CD

Recently released by the Ministry of Culture of Armenia to mark the 140 th anniversary of the legendary Armenian composer Komitas, the Komitas 140 CD features a recording of Al Ayloughs as performed by the YerazArt Trio back in 2007. The Trio was selected, along with 10 other famous groups, such as the National Chamber Choir of Armenia and the Komitas Quartet, to appear on this historic CD designed as a tribute to the famous composer. The CD, which is not intended for sale, was offered to guests of the ArtExpo 2010 held on February 12 and 13 in Yerevan.

YerazArt – supported pianist wins Grand Prix at Yekaterinburg Piano Training Competition (Russia)

In February 2010, 19-year old pianist Aleksandr Iradian received the Grand Prix of the 2 nd Yekaterinburg Piano Training Competition in Russia. Iradian was the beneficiary of financial support from YerazArt in cooperation with the Komitas Conservatory and the Ministry of Culture of Armenia.

YerazArt Cellist Admitted to the Colburn School - Los Angeles

Boston, April 19, 2009 - YerazArt, a non-profit organization dedicated to nurture, support and promote talented young musicians from Armenia, announced today that one of their fellows, Vardan Gasparyan, was accepted at the Colburn School Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles. Vardan, a 20- year- old cellist from Yerevan, Armenia was one of the few musicians that were selected and sponsored by YerazArt to participate in their 2008 North American Concert Tour. While in Los Angeles as part of this tour, Vardan was approached by the Colburn School and was strongly encouraged to apply for a full scholarship at this conservatory which boasts a renowned faculty.

With further financial and logistical support from YerazArt, Vardan was able to make yet another trip from Yerevan to Los Angeles to give a live audition and was successfully admitted to the Bachelor of Music (BM) degree program on a full scholarship. Vardan will join the program this fall.

“We are all very proud of Vardan for his achievement, and are confident he will do very well at Colburn and in his career as a cellist. YerazArt is happy to have been part of his growth as a musician and hopes to replicate this success with other young musicians from Armenia,” said Noubar Afeyan, co-founder of YerazArt.

YerazArt is currently holding auditions in Armenia in preparation for their next North American concert tour which will be taking place in fall of 2009.

About the Colburn School

The Colburn School encompasses the Colburn School of Performing Arts (CSPA) and the Conservatory of Music (CCM). The Conservatory of Music is a highly-selective college offering classical instrumental music training at the baccalaureate and post-baccalaureate levels. This community school attracts a wealth of talents among the finest young musicians in the world, from the United States to Asia, Europe and Australia.

About YerazArt

YerazArt is a Boston-based, non- profit organization co-founded in 2004 by Noubar Afeyan and Raffi Festekjian. The mission of YerazArt is to nurture, support and promote young musical talents from Armenia by providing assistance in their professional development, facilitating their participation in international competitions, and offering them exposure to western audiences through an annual concert tour.

US/Canada Concert Tour 2010

Montreal, Canada    
Saturday, October 2 Concert 8 PM, St. Gregory Armenian Cathedral, Montreal
615 Stuart St. Outremont, Quebec
Sponsor St. Gregory Armenian Cathedral, Montreal
Contact Levon Afeyan, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
For Tickets Tel. 514-279-3066
Toronto, Canada    
Wednesday, October 6 Concert 7:30 PM, AGBU Cultural Center, Babayan Auditorium
930 Progress Ave. Scarborough, Ontario
Sponsor AGBU Toronto
Contact Salpi Der Ghazarian, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
For Tickets Tel. 416-431-2428
Friday, October 8 Concert 8:00 PM, Seaholm High School 2436 West Lincoln Rd. Burmingham, MI.
Sponsor ARS Detroit
Contact Ani Attar, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
For Tickets Tel. 248-661-3038
Saturday, October 9 Concert 8:00 PM, Armenian Community Center Shahnazarian Hall 1701 N. Greenwood Road, Glenview, Illinois.
Sponsor Hamazkayin of Chicago
Contact Harout Michaelian This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
For Tickets Tel. 847-674-6167, 847-391-5055, 773-205-3735
Sunday, October 17 Concert 4:00 PM, Longy School of Music
Edward M. Pickman Concert Hall
27 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA.
Sponsor Holy Trinity Armenian Church of Greater Boston
Contact Nancy Kasarjian This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
For Tickets Tel. 617-354-0632

October 14, 2009 - Toronto (Canada) 
7:30 PM at Alex Manoogian Cultural Center, Scarborough, Ontario (Canada).

October 11, 2009 - Montreal (Canada)
7 PM at St. Gregory Armenian Church Cultural Hall, Outremont, Montreal (Canada).

October 9, 2009 - Boca Raton (Florida)
8 PM at St. David Armenian Church, Boca Raton, Florida.

October 6, 2009 - Fresno (California) 
7 PM at Clovis North High School, 1055 Fowler Ave, Clovis California.

October 3, 2009 - Boston (Massachusetts) 
October 4, 2009 - San Francisco (California)


Sunday, September 28, 2008, 7:30pm 
Alex Theatre
North Brand Boulevard
Glendale, CA 91203 USA
Co-Presented by Infinite Echo Entertainment
Contact: Zoe Kevork
Phone: 818-761-4204

Friday, October 3, 2008, 8pm 
Glenn Gould Studio 
250 Front Street West
Toronto, ON M5V 3G5 CANADA
Co-Presented by Infinite Echo Entertainment
Contact: Zoe Kevork
Phone: 416-205-5555

Sunday, October 5, 2008 
Salle Claude-Champagne 
220, avenue Vincent-d’Indy
Montreal, QC H2V 2T2 CANADA
Co-Presented by Cathedrale Armenienne St.-Gregoire I’lluminateur
Contact: Marguerite Kazarian
Phone: 514-279-3066

Wednesday, October 8, 2008, 7pm 
Arsenal Center for the Arts 
Charles Mosesian Theater
321 Arsenal Street
Watertown, MA 02472 USA
Contact: Joshua Tevekelian
Phone: 617924-7562 or 617-926-9169

Thursday, September 13, 2007, 7:00pm 
Aram Khachatryan House Museum
3 Zaroubyan Street, Yerevan 
YerazArt spring seed 2007 recital 
Free admission

Tuesday, July 3, 2007, 7:30pm 
Komitas Chamber Music Hall 
1 Isahakyan Street 
0025 Yerevan 
Emmanuel Tjeknavorian, violin - solo recital 
Free admission

Friday May 11, 2007, 7:30pm
Kalayjian Hall
Headquarters of the Western Diocese
3325 N. Glenoaks Blvd
Burbank, CA 91504
Co-Sponsored by the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church Tickets @ 818.558.7474
$25 Adults, $15 Students

Thursday May 10, 2007, 7:30PM
Wahlberg Recital Hall
California State University, Fresno
5241 N. Maple Ave
Fresno, CA 93740
Co- Sponsored by the Armenian Cultural Foundation, Fresno
Tickets: Avo @ 559.233.2315, Rosie @ 559.233.1800
Ara @ 559.907.7826, Hilda @ 559.908.5893
$25 Adults

Saturday May 5, 2007, 7:30PM
Saroyan Hall 
825 Brotherhood Way
San Francisco, CA 94132
Co-Sponsored by KZV Armenian School and ARS Garin Chapter
Tickets: @ Maro Demirjian @ 415.753.5262
Angelique Arzoumanian @ 650.577.1006
Ani Yeni- Komshian @ 408.399.4108 
Ivette Avanessian @ 510.649.9344
$30 Adults, $15 for age 15 and Under

Friday, May 4, 2007 8PM
Houston Baptist University
Mabee Theater
7502 Fondren Road
Houston, Texas 77074
Co-Sponsored by St. Kevork's Armenian Church of Houston, Texas 
Tickets: Helen Marout @ 281.558.2753
Arminee Keshishian @ 281.558.8558
Sarkis Ohanian @ 713.266.1313
$30 Adults, $20 Students General Admission

Thursday, May 3, 2007 8PM
University Christian Church
2007 University Ave 
Austin, Texas 78705
Co-Sponsored by the Armenian Church of Austin, Texas

Sunday, April 29, 2007, 3:30pm 
South Broadway Cultural Center (SBCC)
1025 Broadway SE
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87102
Co-Sponsored by the City of Albuquerque, Armenian Cultural Association of New Mexico, and Washburn Piano

Saturday, April 28, 2007, 7:30pm
College of Santa Fe- Department of Contemporary Music
O'Shaughnessy Performance Space, Benildus Hall
1600 St. Michael's Drive
Santa, Fe, New Mexico 87505
Co-Sponsored by the College of Santa Fe Department of Contemporary Music

Friday, April 27, 2007 8PM
Armenian Cultural Foundation
441 Mystic Street
Arlington, MA 02474
Co-Sponsored by St. Stephen's Armenian Elementary School (Watertown, MA)

Thursday, April 26, 2007 7PM 
Armenian Cultural Foundation
441 Mystic Street
Arlington, MA 02474
Co-Sponsored by St. Stephen's Armenian Elementary School (Watertown, MA)
YerazArt Celebrates a Decade of Service to Armenia with Music and Flair

By Aram Arkun

Mirror-Spectator Staff

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — YerazArt celebrated its tenth anniversary on October 23 with a concert titled “A Prelude to Our Future,” at the Longy School of Music’s Pickman Hall. It featured violinist Diana Adamyan, pianist Nara Avetisyan, trumpeter Daniel Melkonyan and tenor Tigran Ohanyan, all young and talented artists originally from Armenia, with Nuné Hakobyan as collaborative pianist. A cocktail reception followed at the Sheraton Commander Hotel.



By Alin K. Gregorian

Mirror-Spectator Staff

WINCHESTER, Mass. — The volunteers of YerazArt put together yet another elegant soirée on October 3 to raise funds for young musicians in Armenia. This year the event was held at the home of Raffi and Nina Festekjian. This was the second time they hosted a YerazArt reception.