NEW YORK, NY – Three college students of Armenian descent were selected as the 2019 winners of the Knights & Daughters of Vartan Annual Essay Contest that is organized annually in honor of the Armenian Genocide.

This year’s question how has creative expression—literature, music, cinema, visual arts—enhanced your personal understanding of the Armenian Genocide? delivered thought-provoking responses from applicants who live around the world. A panel of judges selected first place winner Andrew Panosian of La Crescenta, California, second place winner Garine Kamajian of Indian Shores, Florida and third place winner Lilit Arsenyan of Yerevan, Armenia.

Panosian, a graduate of Crescenta Valley High School and a current freshman at Glendale Community College, focused his essay on Kay Mouradian’s book My Mother’s Voice and tied it into his own personal journey.

“Our stories attract readers and teach them how to push through the pain and learn from it, along with staying positive throughout the struggle, because doing so makes the villains lose with zeal. Indeed, Mouradian’s book has devoted fans for this very reason. Moreover, my local community has been drawn to this novel because of these teachings, leading to the creation of a play based on the book with the blessing of the author…Because of that, Kay Mouradian’s My Mother’s Voice is an influential read, and one that makes the Armenian Genocide a valuable lesson for humans to learn from. Maybe someday there can be less hate and more happiness in both our novels and our world.”

Second place winner Kamajian, a junior studying mass communications at the University of South Florida-Tampa, created a parallel between the music of Aram Khachaturian and the tragedy of the Armenian Genocide.  

“From the wild chaos of the Sabre Dance, to the lyrical magic of the Gayaneh Ballet, I see the violence and beauty that once was theirs…Khachaturian dives right in, with fast rhythm and anxiety-driving tones, just like how the Turkish soldiers stormed right in on the Armenians without any warning. In the middle of the song, Khachaturian slows down the rhythm and adds in more melodious tunes of a flute, mixing it with the faded background of the pulsating beats of the kettle drums. I can relate the flute melody to the beauty of how Armenians still carried on God’s faith throughout the torture of the genocide…”

Third place winner Lilit Arsenyan, a freshman at Yerevan Brusov State University of Languages and Social Sciences, fused the melodies of Komitas with her childhood experiences at the genocide memorial Tsitsernakaberd on April 24.

“Standing at Tsitsernakaberd, she lays flowers, respecting her grandparents’ sacred memory. She prays for those who are far from their motherland, prays for those who remember their home and especially for those who can no longer come back to see Armenia…The sky is weeping, her eyes are weeping, her soul is weeping as Komitas’ lyrics storm her mind and take her heart away…”

The names of the winners and excerpts of their essays will be read at the 104th annual Armenian Genocide Commemoration, in an event sponsored by the Knights & Daughters of Vartan and co-sponsored by the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), Armenian Assembly of America (AAA), Armenian National Committee of American (ANCA), ADL-Ramgavars (ADL) and the Armenian Council of America.

Headlining the event with a special cultural performance is Elie Berberyan, who will sing “Ils Sont Tombes” (They Fell), to pay homage to the memory of the martyrs, as well as the late singer who passed away late last year. The historical event will also feature the poetry of the renowned Hovhannes Shiraz, “Intz Guh Moranam” (I Forget Myself) set to music by Majag Toshikian. The third song, “Hayer Miatzek” (Armenians Unite), by Gusan Haykazun, “is a diasporan message to send to all Armenians to remain a united front” according to Berberian. He cites the message of peace and love in the song.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) are all confirmed to attend and to speak to the crowd of supporters.

Students from the Holy Martyrs Armenian Day School (HMADS) in Bayside, New York and the Hovnanian Armenian Day School in New Milford, New Jersey, will sing Armenian cultural and patriotic songs. Special performances by the Astghikner Vocal Ensemble of Brooklyn Armenian School and the Yerevan Dance Ensemble of Brooklyn Armenian School will also take place. Official Armenian Genocide shirts will be donated by Christopher Jamgotchian, who owns XI Apparel.

The commemoration will be led by the masters of ceremonies Armen McOmber, Esq. and Nvair Beyerian, who will guide the program as the Armenian Diaspora continues its unyielding efforts to remember, to honor and to educate the world about this catastrophic event in Armenian history that took place in 1915 and claimed the lives of almost 2 million Armenians — a piece of history that goes unrecognized to this day by the Turkish government.

For the fifth annual year, the Knights Daughters of Vartan are spearheading an event for the New York metro community’s Young Professionals on the eve of the Times Square Armenian Genocide Commemoration. The event, titled 100 Years & Beyond, will take place at City Perch in Fort Lee, New Jersey and is meant to galvanize the next generation while welcoming networking opportunities in the Diasporan Armenian community. Tickets can be purchased at 100yearsandbeyond.eventbrite.com. Donation is $19.15 that will include drink specials, complimentary bar bites and a cash bar. This event is 21+. For more info, please email 100yearsandbeyond@gmail.com.

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Founded in 1985 by the late Sam Azadian, a former Brooklyn, New York resident, who lost four siblings during the Armenian Genocide, the Armenian Genocide Commemoration at Times Square has honored the 1.5+ million Armenian lives lost during the horrific events of the 1915 Genocide of the Armenians by the Young Turk Government of the Ottoman Empire. This internationally-recognized annual event, that is free and open to the public, draws thousands of Armenians and non-Armenian participants to commemorate the solemn occasion. The event features speeches and tributes delivered by prominent political figures and civic leaders, officials of the Knights and Daughters of Vartan, representatives of major Armenian-American organizations, and distinguished scholars and educators as well as high-ranking Armenian and non-Armenian clergy.

 

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