An Armenian Journey, 1915–2015

April 28, 2015 Updated: April 28, 2015

A special concert commemorating the 100th anniversary of one of history’s darkest chapters, the Armenian Genocide, will perform at San Francisco’s iconic Palace of Fine Arts’ grand auditorium on April 26 at 5 p.m. “Witness And Rebirth: An Armenian Journey” will be presented by the internationally acclaimed Fresno Philharmonic and guest performers from around the globe.

This important chapter of Armenian history began on April 24, 1915, when hundreds of Armenian community leaders and scholars were deported and executed, beginning the Ottoman government’s systematic extermination of Armenians in their own historic homeland.

The genocide was carried out during and after World War I, when more than 1.5 million Armenians were killed or deported.

The Armenian Genocide Commemoration Committee (AGCC) of Northern California is made up of more than 50 Northern California Armenian churches, cultural organizations, and youth organizations from around the Bay Area. Its members’ creativity, hard work, and dedication are culminating in a number of special events, performances, and concerts that have been orchestrated for this commemorative celebration as a tribute to the resiliency and relevance of Armenian people, art, and culture.

“Music heals the soul and is an explosive expression of humanity that has more profound impact than words alone,” says Centennial Organizing Committee member Alex Bastian. “These concerts vibrantly embody that expression, showing the world that although we have suffered pain and loss, it continues to be a better place as a result of our significant contributions. We invite the Bay Area and the world to grieve and remember with us as we remember the Armenian Genocide and celebrate the endurance and joys of our living culture.”

The concert will feature the world premiere of Cantata for Living Martyrs by Grammy-nominated Canadian pianist and composer Serouj Kradjian. His composition is based on poetic texts of eyewitness testimonies and traces a nation’s vibrant life interrupted by immense cruelty.

The evening’s repertoire under the artistic baton of maestro Theodore Kuchar, who shares his duties as music director of the Fresno Philharmonic, the Janacek Philharmonic in the Czech Republic, and the Orquesta Sinfonica de Venezuela, will also include Khachaturian’s Violin Concerto, and choral works by Komitas and Yekmalian. Guest artists include Catherine Manoukian, violin; Isabel Bayrakdarian, mezzo-soprano; Eugene Brancoveanu, baritone; the Fresno Master Chorale and Fresno State Concert Choir directed by Anna Hamre. Tickets may be purchased at www.cityboxoffice.com.

As the world celebrates some great art and culture at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, currently on view in San Francisco, it is fitting that this commemorative concert be performed in the last remaining major structure from 1915—the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre.

A number of other unique performing arts events have included, among others, the free concert at San Francisco’s Union Square and featured MTV and Grammy Award-winning artist Sebu and Anna & Anais Duo. Attendees were inspired by the spontaneous visual artist Kevork Mourad whom “painted” the concert as it happened. The April 24 dance performance by the dynamic Arax Dance Company will reflect the beauty and the grace of Armenian folklore.

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