By Tom Vartabedian
The Andover Townsman
---- — Music through the ages will be the focal point of a 98th memorial observance marking Armenian Martyrs’ Day in the Merrimack Valley on Sunday, April 28.
Titled “Weaving Armenia’s Story Through Music,” the program will spotlight three New England soloists: soprano Knarik Nerkararyan, mezzo soprano Victoria Avetisyan and tenor Yeghishe Manucharyan, accompanied by pianist Levon Hovsepian.
The commemoration, which will take place at 3 p.m. in North Andover High School, will be marked by a memorial service concelebrated by pastors from different churches throughout the Merrimack Valley, accompanied by a combined choir led by Paul Ketchoyian, accompanied by Arsen Russian.
The event will be attended by four generations, including an appearance by Nellie Nazarian, the lone remaining genocide survivor in the Merrimack Valley and southern New Hampshire. The 102-year-old Methuen resident has attended previous commemorations and has outlived all her peers.
Admission is free and the public is invited. A reception will follow in the school cafeteria.
“We’re very fortunate to have attracted three of the more prominent singers anywhere,” said Sossy Jeknavorian, chairwoman of the Armenian Genocide Commemorative Committee of Merrimack Valley. “What better way to tell Armenia’s fabled history than through music and song.”
Nerkararyan is choir director of St. Gregory Church in North Andover. More recently, she performed as Kupava in the Rimsky-Korsakov opera “The Snow Maiden” with the Lowell Opera Company.
Avetisyan has performed throughout the world. She made her debut with the Boston Lyric Opera Company, appeared solo at Carnegie Hall, and has performed with the Boston Symphony as soloist for Verdi’s “Requiem.”
Manucharyan more recently preformed Beethoven’s “Missa Solemnis” with the Charlotte Symphony, following an appearance with the Metropolitan Opera Society where he sang the new production of “Armida” with diva Renee Fleming. His Carnegie Hall debut was with the Opera Orchestra of New York in Donizetti’s “Anna Bolena.”
Hovsepian performs regularly and teaches piano at the Powers Music School in Belmont and Keys for Kids in Lexington. He has appeared with the New England Philharmonic and taught master classes at La Corunia Music in Spain.
Winners of a student essay contest will also be presented with awards after reading their papers. An update on the $35,000 genocide memorial planned for Lowell is also planned. The project is being funded through donations from surrounding communities.
Communities in Greater Haverhill, Lawrence and Lowell will commemorate the genocide throughout the week with proclamation signings, meetings and flag-raising ceremonies with their respective city leaders.
“Through voluntary contributions, more than $70,000 has been donated to worthy charities in Armenia,” Jeknavorian said of the money raised over the years. “This remains a tribute to the members who have served this committee over the past two decades. It isn’t often you see an event attended by four generations.”