Good Evening your Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian; Reverend Clergy; Diocesan Council members, St. Leon Parish Council members; and beloved guests.

It is a pleasure to serve as your Chairman and stand here today to honor such a remarkable man of the church this evening, Father Arshag Khatchadourian. I would like to also welcome members of the community who might not be familiar with the Association of Armenian Church of the Western Diocese.

The Association of Armenian Church Choirs also known as the AACCWD, was formed within the Western Diocese in year of 2003. It was not the first choir association to exist within America but one where the Western Diocese would benefit from it. It was modeled after the Eastern Diocese but configured with the unique properties so that it would function properly and successfully within our churches.

Our core objective is to promote the teaching of sacred music; encourage choirs to learn and adhere to the liturgical rites, cannons, and doctrines of the Church, promote their faithful practice, assist choirs to develop their local organization and activities, and most importantly, in my humble option, to promote the appreciation and us of Armenian music.

The AACCWD has gone through steadfast leadership throughout the years and there has been one static figure that has been involved within the organization, a humble, caring, and generous man whom we have the utmost pleasure of honoring this evening.

I had the opportunity to witness the creation of the association and grow up within it throughout the years. My own mother, my fellow church choir members, and organist have all been involved in the organization, and it has instilled the passion of continuing its mission since being elected as your chairman in 2015.

During the first two weeks of my tenure as Chairman, with a newly elected central council by my side, I was tasked with the prospect of bringing the association into the digital era with revamping our social media platform, website design, digital library, and most importantly connecting with you, the members of this church.

With a strong support system fathered by Father Arshag and my incomparable vice-chairman Alenoush, we set out to start creating events. Some the first of their kind.

Over the past year we have held our first annual Christmas Caroling Program, a masterclass that focused on the integral role of the church choir within the liturgy featuring a guest lecturer from the eastern diocese Fr. Daniel Findikyan, and a new initiative to teach sacred and secular music at HyeCamp for our young adolescents.

Our year is certainly not over and we still have a great deal of work to do.

A common thread as you may have ascertained during my speech, builds up to a new initiative that I am pleased to announce today.

As we look across our churches, we see that many church choirs face irregular choir member attendance or sometimes no choir singers. Many churches, do not have apprentices standing in the wings to be taught the badarak and its associated musical elements. The past several years, this has been a vocal issue during our assembly meetings.

During my first meeting with my central council, I turned to them and told them that we are going to tackle this issue, and we are going to do it under my first term.

We are going to provide the support that our church choirs need. We are going to act upon our founding principles and initiate change and bring forth the new generation of choir directors, organists, sectionalists, and composers.

We are not going to talk about change but lead it.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am extremely pleased to announce that as of this evening, the AACCWD has created with the generous support of our founding donors a musical scholarship fund for post-secondary education and continuing music education students.

My dear friends, what other way to honor a man who himself has preached and praised from the very beginning the importance of the choir, the importance of our Armenian Church Music, then creating this scholarship fund under his name for years to come. Tonight, we celebrate the launch of the Father Arshag Khatchadourian Music Scholarship Fund!

This scholarship program is a mission that needs your generous support and I am here to ask for it. We will soon be publishing the criteria of how individual students can apply and qualify for this program and I urge you to support our efforts to sustain this program with your financial contributions.

These students will receive financial support for achieving their own passion of learning music in school and will play an integral role in the planning of our new generation of church choirs.

Students will be assigned to parishes and will be taught not only the Liturgy, but all of its components pertaining to music by a experienced and trained conductor, organist, or vocal sectionalist. This program is the future and I am so happy that it bears the name of a man who has voiced the very need of this from the very forefront of this organizations’ establishment. We at the AACCWD have heard your needs and we are prepared to not only face them but to ensure that we overcome them.

I would like to take a moment now to thank the founding donors, the Khatchadourian Choir & St. James Parish Council for standing by my side from the very forefront of this project.These individuals have been involved with my planning efforts and have not hesitated when I have called upon their support. I ask and urge you to follow in their footsteps and help the AACCWD and our efforts to provide financial support for students who are pursuing a music degree or would like to continue their music education within a professional setting.

I am deeply grateful to all of your support here tonight as you are the leaders of change and you have the opportunity to pave the pathway for the future of our church and our church choirs. I thank you for your support, I thank you my dear Father Arshag for your love, leadership, and grace in all things to do with this wonderful association. God bless you and the Armenian Church.

Thank you.