By Sophie Khachatryan
Photos by Christian Giamarella
Kariné Poghosyan during her Valentine’s Day concert at Carnegie Hall
On the night of Valentine’s Day, I took my seat in the beautiful Carnegie Hall to enjoy the unique “All that Jazz” program by pianist Kariné Poghosyan. The heart of the program was the centennial celebration of the world premiere of George Gershwin’s iconic “Rhapsody in Blue,” which debuted on February 12, 1924. The incredible concert was presented by the Permanent Mission of Armenia to the United Nations.
Poghosyan was magnificent – from her killer dress to her impeccable phrasing, breathtaking vulnerability and power. I have followed Poghosyan’s musical journey and attended her concerts for many years, including her online Facebook performances during the pandemic, and later became her Patreon supporter.
I was not alone in appreciating this unique experience, as the packed house, sold out for over a week prior, gave the artist a jubilant standing ovation. In attendance were some remarkable figures, including United Nations dignitaries.
“We were happy to have partnered, once again this year, with our distinguished artist, the New York-based Armenian-American pianist Kariné Poghosyan, to bring together dear friends and colleagues to a musical evening at the iconic Carnegie Hall,” said His Excellency Ambassador Mher Margaryan during his remarks before the group of Permanent Representatives of the U.N. member states at the pre-concert reception.
“The times which we are going through are extremely challenging for many nations, including for Armenia, but also for the collective humanity, which continues to be put to the test. It is, perhaps, in times like this that the significance of art, music and other forms of creative human _expression_ become even more pronounced, offering a sense of purpose and unity and a source of hope and inspiration,” Margaryan continued.
His Excellency Mher Margaryan, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Armenia to the United Nations, during his remarks at the pre-concert reception for the United Nations dignitaries
Anita Anserian, managing director of AGBU, remarked, “Kariné wowed the audience with each of the pieces she had meticulously chosen and masterfully played. We experienced so many emotions as she gave her unique interpretation to each and for an hour transported us to a colorful, musical world.”
Principal violinist of the Harlem Chamber Players Ashley Horne was also very impressed. “A magnificent recital! Ginastera’s first piano sonata was a tour de force. Coleridge-Taylor’s ‘Three Fours’ had a real singing and lyrical quality, perfectly placed after the Ginastera. From there we heard wonderfully played pieces by Babajanian and recent Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, Tania Leon. She ended her concert with a very jazzy arrangement of Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue,’” Horne said.
Director of the music program at Saint Louis University, Dr. Aaron Johnson, traveled to New York especially to attend the recital. “I love watching Kariné perform. She is, without question, one of the most compelling and exciting pianists I have ever experienced live. Her love of music is always on full display when she performs, and it is infectious. She makes her audience feel the same happiness and love she feels for the music she performs. I felt that happiness and love, and it made the 2000-mile round trip journey to be there more than worth it. We at Saint Louis University are so looking forward to Ms. Poghosyan repeating this same program at the Sheldon Concert Hall in Saint Louis,” he said.
The cultural advisor of the Embassy of Armenia to the U.S., Vicki Shoghag Hovanessian, said it best. “Kariné Poghosyan is one of those virtuoso spectacular pianists with extraordinary stamina and musical skills as well as jaw-dropping performances. It’s a musical reverie to attend Ms. Poghosyan’s performances. A foremost interpreter of Aram Khachaturian, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky and other composers, she inhabits the music in all its stormy, turbulent depths, shattering staccato and ravishing sensuality, bringing her own unselfconscious sense of fun.”
The concert was an unforgettable experience that will stay with viewers for years. Poghosyan is a trailblazer in the music world.