Choir Workshops in Syracuse

Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern)
630 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10016
Contact: Chris Zakian
Tel: (212) 686-0710; Fax: (212) 779-3558
E-mail: [email protected]

December 12, 2014

Choir Workshops in Syracuse

Parishioners at St. Paul Church of Syracuse, NY, gathered last month for a
series of choir workshops led by Maestro Khoren Mekanejian, the Diocese’s
director of Music Ministry.

Over the course of two weekends-November 8-9 and November 22- 23-Maestro
Mekanejian taught the group the variables of the badarak. Some 20
enthusiastic parishioners signed up for the workshops-the first time such a
program was offered in Syracuse by the Diocese in the recent past.

At the encouragement of the Rev. Fr. Mardiros Chevian, who along with other
priests has been visiting St. Paul Church to celebrate the Divine Liturgy,
Maestro Mekanejian organized the workshops, prepared handouts for vocal
exercises, and led the parishioners in rehearsal.

“We traveled to Syracuse expecting only three or four people to attend the
workshop,” Maestro Mekanejian said. “It was wonderful to see so many people
of different ages dedicate their time and energy to learning our sacred

On both Saturdays in November, the group gathered from 3 to 5:30 in the
evening for rehearsals. On each of the following Sundays, they sang during
the Divine Liturgy, celebrated by Fr. Chevian.

“They are all very committed, and even though some didn’t read music or
speak Armenian, they were eager to learn and understand the hymns,” Maestro
Mekanejian said.

The learning sessions will make it possible for the St. Paul parishioners to
join other parish choirs in singing during the Divine Liturgy at the
Armenian Genocide centennial commemoration scheduled for May 2015 in
Washington, D.C.

“I was impressed by the level of participation,” Fr. Chevian said. “There
are very talented people in Syracuse, and we are encouraged by their
commitment and love of the Armenian Church.”

St. Paul Church was consecrated in 1958, but in recent years the Armenian
community has shrunk in size as many of the original settlers-who had found
work in Syracuse’s industrial sector-have relocated to other parts of the
country. Now the parish is comprised of Armenians from various parts of the
diaspora, including the Middle East and Armenia. Some of the newcomers also
include students at Syracuse University and doctors from Armenia who have
come to work and study there.

The Rev. Fr. Daniel Karadjian served the community for several years, but
since his departure two years ago the parish has been served by visiting
pastors. The Divine Liturgy is celebrated twice a month.

“This workshop was immensely helpful,” said organist Karen Khanzadian. “It
was a great deal of music to cover in two days, especially for our group,
yet Maestro Khoren got everyone to give a decent performance. He also made
sure to give personal attention to everyone.”

Maestro Mekanejian plans to return to Syracuse in the coming year to review
the material covered this fall and teach the hymns of the five major feast
days of the Armenian Church.


Photo attached: Maestro Khoren Mekanejian leads a choir workshop at St. Paul