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National Chamber Choir of Armenia Performs at Fresno State

The National Chamber Choir of Armenia performed October 29 at Fresno State.
Photo: Barlow Der Mugrdechian

Diana Gasparyan
Staff Writer

Gracing stages across the world, the National Chamber Choir of Armenia performed in Fresno State’s Concert Hall on Sunday, October 29.

The Armenian Studies Program at Fresno State and the Hamazkayin Taniel Varoujan Chapter of Fresno were co-sponsors for the event, which attracted an enthusiastic audience of more than 250.

The internationally recognized 35-person choir has an extensive repertoire of songs, ranging from Bach and Debussy to Komitas and Tigranian. For the Fresno performance, the choir mainly performed popular Armenian folk and classical pieces. The mood and emotion of each song was portrayed through the artistic performance of the singers.

The bright and upbeat pieces such as the wedding song Sona Yar and the folk song Pingyol energized the audience, whereas Yel, Yel and Hov Arek Sarer Jan evoked a more solemn mood among the listeners.

Conductor Robert Mlkeyan’s arrangements allowed each song to be presented with the depth and richness of a four-part choir.

One of the highlights of the concert was guest soloist soprano Anahit Nersisyan’s rendition of composer Parsegh Ganachian’s Oror. Her nuanced and delicate style brought the audience to their feet.

Another audience favorite were excerpts from Armen Tigranyan’s Anoush Opera, featuring solos by soprano Sofya Sayadyan, who brought the audience to tears with her performance.

At the conclusion of the concert, the audience demanded an encore with multiple standing ovations and Mlkeyan and the Choir responded with a beautiful interpretation of Erebuni-Yerevan.

Initially called the Armenian Chamber Choir (ACC), the accomplished group was es-tablished by the “Vatche and Tamar Monoukian” Benevolent Association in 2000.

Under Mlkeyan’s leadership, the ACC was recognized as the finest chamber choir of Armenia, and in 2008 acquired the status of a state choir, and renamed the National Chamber Choir of Armenia.

Mlkeyan, the Artistic Director and Principal Conductor, is a recipient of the “Movses Khorenatsi” medal. After delivering the immaculate performance, he addressed the audience, stating “We didn’t anticipate receiving such a warm welcome from an audience in the United States. We will return to the motherland with satisfaction, fulfillment, and gratification and with plans to return.” Mlkeyan was very pleased that the audience appreciated the academic level of musicianship. “We must continue this noble work,” he concluded.

The National Chamber Choir of Armenia performed in Los Angeles and Fresno under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Armenia. Louise Mardirossian Gill, who was a key organizer of the concerts was “very proud and honored to be organizing events of such high caliber.”

As with every large traveling group, the National Chamber Choir faced many challenges. “They travel to new countries, to new audiences, never knowing what to expect. The Fresno audience exceeded our expectations,” said Gill.

“I love to perform various pieces, but I mostly enjoy performing Komitas and wedding songs, especially with Mlkeyan’s arrangements,” said soprano Sofya Sayadyan.

She has been a part of the National Chamber Choir for six years, and is also a soloist for the Yerevan Opera Theatre. She has traveled throughout Europe, but it was her first time in the United States. “We are all very thankful for the heartfelt welcome, it was a joy to perform for the Fresno community.”

The performance of renowned groups such as the National Chamber Choir of Armenia add to Fresno’s vibrant cultural tapestry.