Another Successful Youth Choir Workshop!
The second annual Yn. Diane Chevian Memorial Youth Choir Workshop welcomed 16 new and returning musically talented students ages 13-17 from the Eastern Diocese on July 5-9. These eager participants were excited to represent their parishes along with a capable staff who led the program for five days.
The youth choir workshop was directed by Fr. Haroutiun Sabounjian, a 2018 St. Nersess graduate and pastor of the Armenian Church of the Holy Resurrection in New Britain, CT, assisted by his wife, Yn. Lucine. The daily workshops were led by Fr. Hovhan Khoja-Eynatyan, pastor of St. James Armenian Church, Evanston, IL, and Director of the Eastern Diocese’s Sacred Music Council; and Louise Yardumian, Choir Director at St. Hagop Armenian Church, Pinellas Park, FL. Serien Keleshian and Subdeacon David Marottolo served as counselors. The group welcomed Fr. Mesrop Parsamyan, Primate of the Eastern Diocese and President of the St. Nersess Board of Directors, to join them for a day.
Collectively, the participants had a sincere interest in learning the liturgical hymns of our Divine Liturgy and began the session with a series of team-building activities. The first team challenge was to build a tower from newspaper and tape while experiencing physical limitations. Participants learned how to work together like a choir of different vocal parts – each part is vital to the group’s success and no part is less important than another. The winning team successfully built a tower over 5′ tall!
The daily workshops included learning the Ekmalian Badarak in 4-part harmony. Fr. Hovhan taught the Tenor and Bass parts while Louise Yardumian taught the Soprano and Alto parts of the Badarak. “We used different techniques to practice sight reading to learn special hymns in our Badarak,” reflected Louise Yardumian. “Their enthusiasm was contagious and invigorating! This group was a remarkable group of young people who were a pleasure to teach.”
The participants also learned singing techniques, how to follow conductor cues, and vocal exercises. There was a small group “Sharagan Study” during the workshop exploring the biblical connections and real-life applications of the hymns Marmeen Deroonagan, Lutsak Ee Parootyants Kots, and Orhnetseets uzDer. Fr. Haroutiun taught Jashoo Sharagans (Midday Hymns) and other variables for the Badarak.
Each day, everyone participated in morning Matins and evening Vespers serving as deacons, choir members and readers. On Sunday morning, Badarak was celebrated by Fr. Hovhan where the participants sang as the choir members. Following Divine Liturgy, there was a special Hokehankisd held for Yn. Diane Chevian.
“What a great way to honor the late Yn. Diane’s passion for music and choral singing! I was immersed in an atmosphere of worship, music, fellowship, teaching as well as learning… all very well-balanced days guided by Fr. Haroutiun,” shared Fr. Hovhan.
“This was the second year that I had the privilege of directing the Youth Choir Workshop,” shared Fr. Haroutiun. “I remember leaving the workshop last year being inspired not simply by the talented voices of our participants, but even more so by the depth of their faith displayed in a variety of beautiful ways throughout the workshop. The ways in which our participants joyfully sang hymns of the Badarak spontaneously or gathered in the chapel during free time for prayer, or spoke openly with each other about their faith journeys, leaves me infinitely grateful to our Lord for this experience and overwhelmingly optimistic for the future of our precious Armenian Church in America.”
The choir workshop was funded through the generosity of those who contributed In Lieu of Flowers to the seminary after Yn. Diane Chevian passed away in September 2021. Donations to the Memorial Fund are still being accepted by clicking here.
“It was truly inspiring to know that there continues to be so many young people interested in learning the music of our Church,” reflected Fr. Mardiros Chevian.
The participants created a beautiful gift for Fr. Mardiros in memory of his wife. Each person wrote a favorite memory of the program on a green paper leaf. They were compiled and attached to a sunflower stem (Yn. Diane’s favorite flower!) and gifted to Der Mardiros as a small token of appreciation for the opportunity to attend this choir workshop.
Many thanks also go out to Zovig Ashjian and Marian Varteresian who spearheaded the preparation of all the meals throughout the program. They were honored to assist at this important program. CLICK HERE for more photos.