What can make an Armenian go back to Armenia. The project exclusive interviews of Asekose.am this time is presented by Sonata music school founder, a pianist SonaVardanyan. We tried to discover the Armenian who despite living far from her Motherland still lives by Armenia, who by keeping love towards Armenia, is doing everything to maintain the Armenian heritage in the alien land by her own work.
You’ve been residing in the United States for almost 9 years. What do you do here?
- I’ve been managing Sonata music school for 6 years. Besides these responsibilities I am also continuing my educational practice by teaching piano classes. I spent my first years exploring opportunities, however I am happy that finally I decided to take on my main profession. First I set up the Sonata music studio, where I was the only teacher. Thanks to a daily hard work and great ambition the studio has gradually grown into a music school where we currently teach classes for almost all musical instruments, where lots of Armenians as well as foreign children receive musical education. Our staff consists of nearly 20 teachers. I should gladly mention, that Sonata music school is considered one of the most prestigious music centers in LA area.
Are there any programs in the music school that have been created with the purpose of maintaining the Armenian heritage for those living in none native lands?
- Definitely, there are such programs. The interest towards native culture is huge and the importance to maintain the Armenian heritage becomes a necessity. Folk songs and music is something as important to an Armenian person as things such as air and water, and that love doubles in foreign lands as there is also the factor of homesickness. The spectator welcomes with big encouragement our annual concerts that have become traditional, especially the performances of those students that introduce our native musical instruments, such as duduk and drum. It is worth to mention the performance of folk songs, by the way that department is led by a popular singer PapinPoghosyan. This was the idea of forming the chorus. Pride of place in children’s play list goes to Armenian works. Besides that it is very important that Armenian children living overseas speak and communicate in Armenian. In general, the formation of Sonata music school has a mission of maintaining Armenian spirit. However, due to being an American music school, our doors are open to people of any ethnicity. We have foreign students as well, we also have none-Armenian teachers.
What are some of the opportunities your students have by attending the school?
- The most important thing is that the children get quality music education directly from the professionals. Every year lots of our students pass state music exams and receive certificates from MTAC (Music Teachers Association of California), which will give them big advantages in future while entering higher educational establishment. We are pleased that our students often receive the highest scores and prestigious awards. Also twice a year Sonata music school organizes concerts in one of the LA’ s music halls, which gives a chance to young artists to present their skills on a big stage as well.
Has someone or something disappointed you in Armenia which made you leave the country?
- One shouldn’t get disappointed or get offended by his Motherland regardless of anything. Once a famous actor was asked what happiness was. His answer was that it is when you hurry to get to the work from home but then you hurry to get home from work. Yes, work should be attractive, should be able to give one an opportunity of revealing his or her professional and human abilities, make prospects for making dreams come true. I remember years ago life was passing by monotonously, each year went by exactly like the previous one and we started thinking seriously of moving overseas. In 2009 my husband AlexanChakhoyan received a work offer (Alex is a doctor, a surgeon). He accepted the offer taking into account a desire to move forward. So our family moved to USA. Now we both are engaged in our favorite work, and our children-in studying. In short, everything is OK.
An idea of homecoming seems to be getting more and more popular. How realistic do you find it in your case?
-This is a case when our desires and reality contradict each other. Motherland tempts, calls all the time. Especially now when such fateful events are happening in our Motherland. Each day starts and ends for us with Armenian news. In this case you realize that you live and share problems and hopes of your fellow Armenians. And these are not hollow words. However in the nearest future we won’t be able to go back permanently. How can I leave my school which I had established with such difficulties, my students, whose education is my responsibility. My eldest daughter is going to one of the best Universities in the United States-UCLA, my youngest daughter is in Middle school with high grades, my husband works…And in future… who knows, we will see.
What expectations does an Armenian person living overseas have from the new Armenian government?
- I wish that Armenian people live a full and dignified life in a peaceful country, so that people have jobs and are appreciated and successful. Among hundreds of other nations Armenians achieve great success and advance in United States. The country helps and assists talented and hard-working people in many ways. I wish that there will be significant changes in our Motherland and a working and creative Armenian will help his country flourish.
What do you value most of all in your Motherland while living far from it?
- Last summer we were in Armenia with our family. My husband’s parents live in Yerevan, we have many relatives and friends there. We miss both our fellow Armenians and our city. We were walking around the city a lot and I noticed that there was no sign of hope in people’s eyes, I noticed their hopeless looks. Seems like things are different now. I can see that people have changed, they seem to have more hopes that them and their children will live in a better, more civilized country. It’s that hope that I value the most.
What helps an Armenian person remain true to his origin while living overseas?
- There are the three main points that have been helping Armenian to remain Armenian throughout centuries: Armenian language, Armenian culture and Armenian Apostolic church. Of course, family takes the place in children’s personality formation. If they speak Armenian at home, listen to good music, follow our cultural tradition, children get the most important idea of their country from their parents. Surely, education is also very important. I am very happy that Sonata music school is one of the center of Armenian culture, which contributes to raising Armenian youth with keeping their native heritage.
What are some of the principles you follow in your life?
- Probably, my most important principle is being faithful to the work I am devoted to, to my friends, parents and my Motherland. I am an optimist. I’m sure if one surrounds himself with an atmosphere of kindness and good intentions, if his goals and actions are honest, then that kindness and positivity will definitely return to him as a boomerang.
What are your dreams for a new Armenia?
- Happiness can’t be complete if you realize that there are many unresolved problems. An individual can’t be happy by himself. I’m sure that our people will overcome this post revolutionary stage and enter a new stage of developing and flourishing. I am sure that millions of Armenian desire the same-to see our Armenian people free and happy.