Good Morning –

My name is Sevag Derderian, Chairman of the Association of Armenian Church Choirs of the Western Diocese. I am honored to be here today all of my fellow faithful in Christ.

The Association of Armenian Church Choirs, AACCWD for short, was established in 2003, and was tasked with four core objectives:

  • to promote the teaching of sacred music;
  • to encourage choirs to learn and adhere to the liturgical rites, cannons, and
  • doctrines of the Armenian Church and to promote their faithful practice;
  • to assist choirs within our Diocese to develop their local organization and
  • activities;
  • and, finally, to promote the appreciation and use of Armenian Music.

On this auspicious day in the life of the AACCWD, I begin my official tour of all the Diocesan parishes. My tour will conclude in November at our annual convention and assembly in Las Vegas, Nevada. This year’s convention will take place November 10-12, where I hope to see many of you attend and participate. This year, the convention will feature Very Reverend Father Daniel Findikyan of the Eastern Diocese, professors from California State University Los Angeles and University of Las Vegas, and our own resident musicians.

You may receive updates and information about our organization by visiting www.aaccwd.com.

I am here today, to talk about love.

Love for our Armenian Apostolic Church.

Love for our precious sacred music.

Love for our fellow brother, sisters, and children in Christ.

When I originally assumed the role of Chairman, my heart and mind were mixed with a swirl of emotions that clouded my reasoning and judgment for the first few days. What had I just gotten myself into? What do the people of the Diocese expect from me? What worthy items do I have to offer not only to my church, but to the Almighty himself.

I found solace deep in my own thoughts and there was one clear message that was formed that deeply resonated within my heart and soul.

LOVE.

When we think about music, we often turn to those who might have influenced our personal liking to certain genres, artists, or composers. We turn to those whose love made certain compositions swell with further deeper meaning than those that we would not originally have been accustomed to. It’s a shared piece of personal interest that is passed on from one loving individual to another.

My love for sacred music started at a very early age, courtesy of my mother. My mother, has been singing in church choirs since her childhood days. It was only natural that she would pass onto me her love for music so that I may embrace it as well.

Now, you may be thinking to yourself, what does one’s own love for music have to do with another. It’s quite simple. Your choir, is perfect testament to the love I am talking about here today. These choir members share a very special bond, with not only themselves, but their love for the Almighty. They dedicate themselves to the continuous expansion of musical training, regimented practice of current and new compositional works, and their constant dedication to filling the walls of this sanctuary, with their very love of sacred music.

Choirs are one of the most miraculous bodies of each and every church. They bring together new and old friends, guests and strangers and turn them all into a family. A family that cares, loves, and supports each member. They celebrate auspicious occasions. They grieve and console when needed. They build individuals to be more caring then ever imaginable.

They truly follow the path set by Christ, they unceasingly exude love.

Church Choirs, contrary to misconceptions, do not need to be comprised of a professional ensemble of trained musicians that celebrate the Divine Liturgy. The real tangible members of the choir are amateurs whose personal love for Christ and sacred music, bring forth, their love to participate and expand the compositional works of musical geniuses.

The word amateur, is one that should be celebrated and revered. It stems from the Latin root of amatorem, whose past principle, amare, means to love.

So, today, I am asking you, independent of your background, experience, or interest, to come together and love. Exude love for your church and help sustain our mission to supporting our church choirs across the Western Diocese.

The AACCWD, is proud to be home to:

  • music education efforts that will soon be implemented within all Sunday School classrooms in the Fall of 2017
  • master classes and training programs for our singers, directors, and organists
  • scholarship funds so that we may prepare the next generation of talented musicians
  • HyeCamp Sacred & Secular Music Curriculum
  • a vast and comprehensive digital sacred music library

As I travel across the Diocese, my message is this.

My time as Chairman is to weave the thread of sacred music one loving note at a time. It is to share my own deep personal love for the Almighty with you and hopefully inspire you to get involved. Your activism is what can change and provide fruitful outcomes to a new generation of individuals.

I need your support to ensure that the progress we are continously making, does not stop. I am asking you to drive change, encourage the youth, and come join your church choir.

Strive to do better, for the collective efforts of all individuals, will compose a sweet melodic harmony that will resonate high unto the heavens.

I’d like to leave you with one final message. A message that acts as my own personal north compass, and one that I try to completely embody within my daily life. Allow me to share with you the words of the late, John Wesley.

“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”

May God Bless you and the Armenian Apostolic Church.

Thank you.