By Florence Avakian
Preparations for the Genocide Centennial to take place in Washington D.C. from May 7 to 9 are proceeding with speed as details emerge daily. The unique event will present a united Armenian-American community, bolstered by dedicated supporters from the American and worldwide religious, diplomatic and governmental fields.
This Commemoration is the work of the Armenian Dioceses and the Armenian Prelacies in the United States working together on all levels, including the organizational and fundraising efforts.
Leading the commemoration will the Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II, and Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia Aram I, throughout the three-day historic event. This will be their first appearance together after the inspiring ceremony in Holy Etchmiadzin on April 23, which will anoint the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide as saints.
Also attending the Commemoration will be President of the Republic of Armenia Serzh Sarkisian. President Barak Obama and members of Congress have been issued special invitations by both the National Council of Churches, and the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops.
Appreciation, Unity, Awareness, Revival
The weekend will begin at Washington’s famed National Cathedral on Thursday evening, May 7 at 7 PM., with Catholicos Karekin II and Catholicos Aram I jointly leading clergy of the Armenian Church, and heads of other faiths in prayers of remembrance, respect, unity and revival. The keynote speaker in the Cathedral will be the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, Rev. Olav Fyske Tviet.
On Friday evening, May 8, at 8 P.M., at the Music Center at Strathmore, a special program entitled, “A Journey through 100 Years of Armenian Music” will be presented. A group of compositions, both classical and contemporary by the beloved Komitas Vartabed, framed especially for the Genocide Centennial will be presented. A surprise grand finale awaits the presentation.
Among the acclaimed musicians taking part are the renowned Armenian National Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Hover Chamber Choir of Armenia. Also performing will be celebrated sopranos Isabel Bayrakdarian, and Hasmik Papian, pianists Sahan Arzruni and Serouj Khradjian, violinists Levon Chilingirian, Ara Gregorian, and Ida Kavafian, cellist Alexander Chaushian, and clarinetist Narek Arutunyan.
On the morning of Saturday May 9, starting at 10 A.M., at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, which holds 3000 seats, Catholicos Karekin II and Catholicos Aram I will lead a magnificent rendering of the Holy Badarak (Divine Liturgy), sung by more than 150 members of choir representatives from Armenian churches in the United States. The choir will be conducted by New York’s St. Vartan Cathedral choir director Maestro Khoren Mekanejian, with St. Vartan Cathedral Dean the Very Rev. Fr. Mamigon Kiledjian accompanying on the organ.
“A Time to Give Thanks” will be the theme of the banquet taking place at the Marriott Marquis Hotel on Saturday evening, May 9 starting with a reception at 6 P.M. Those dedicated individuals and institutions which helped and supported the Armenians in the past, and the present, will be honored. Master of Ceremonies for this auspicious event will be the well-known California lawyer Mark Geragos. Among the evening’s musical performers will be the Zulal Acapella Trio. Entertainment activities for children will be provided during the banquet.
Throughout the three-day weekend, a number of related events will be taking place, including a tour, and a lecture at the Library of Congress, and a tour of the American Indian Museum. There will also be a series of workshops, films and exhibits throughout Washington D.C., and at the Marriott Marquis Hotel. Activities will also present projects for young adults.
For hotel and event reservations, the website is www.armeniangenocidecentennial.org