A Master Class in Music for Holy Martyrs Church Choir

The installation of a new Rodgers Organ at Holy Martyrs Church in Bayside, NY, became an occasion for choir members and accompanists to benefit from a “Master Class” in Armenian Church music.

Fr. Mamigon Kiledjian, the Eastern Diocese’s Sacred Music Instructor (and a virtuoso organist in his own right), visited the Bayside parish on Sunday, August 8, to join parishioners for badarak and meet afterwards with the choir, in the company of pastor Fr. Abraham Malkhasyan.

During his discussion of ways to enhance the beauty and musicality of the liturgy, Fr. Kiledjian stressed the critical role of the choir—which not only engages with the priest and deacons on the altar, but also sets a serene, meditative mood for the worshippers.

He also addressed practical issues of vocal performance, explaining techniques of breathing that would produce stronger, richer tones in the singing voice. Fr. Kiledjian shared his expertise in conducting, and led practice exercises for select pieces.

Many of his insights sparked animated discussion among the participants.

“Hayr Sourp taught us there is no such thing as ‘sad’ Armenian Church music,” said Maral Jamgochian, who serves as one of the organists of the parish.“It should be joyful and celebratory—and ultimately transformative. He said that the altar servers, choir, and organist are a channel to change the lives around them.”

She added: “Throughout the class, Hayr Sourp’s delightful sense of humor and love for our church music touched everyone’s heart.”

An Enhancement to Spiritual Life

The purchase of Bayside’s new organ was made possible by a donation from Juliet Jamie Gregorio in memory of her mother, Lucy Jamie. Fr. Kiledjian helped the parish select a suitable instrument of the church: a technologically advanced Rodgers organ in the company’s “Inspire” series, with a wide array of sounds options, volume controls, recording and playback features.

“It creates a depth of sound that powerfully reverberates through the entire space of the church,” said Maral Jamgochian. “It’s a beautiful enhancement to our celebration of badarak and our spiritual life.”

As the Eastern Diocese’s Sacred Music Instructor, Fr. Kiledjian welcomes all manner of inquiries about Armenian Church music. Contact him via e-mail at

Above: Diocesan Sacred Music Instructor Fr. Mamigon Kiledjian, pastor Fr. Abraham Malkhasyan, and parishioners of Holy Martyrs Church (Bayside, NY) stand in the choir loft of the church sanctuary alongside their new Rodgers Organ, a gift of Juliet Gregorio in memory of her mother, Lucy Jamie. Pictured above (l-r): parish council chair Greg Saraydarian; choir members Robert Haroutunian, Anjel Tahmisyan, Hilda Sheshedian; Fr. Kiledjian; Fr. Malkhasyan; choir director Carol Loshigian, choir member Tamar Kayserian, and organist Maral Jamgochian. (Missing: choir director Ruthann Drewitz; organists Nevart Dadourian and Karen Smaldone.)

Share it on

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Support Our Programs