BY TALEEN BABAYAN
Last month, co-producers Nvair Kadian Beylerian and Andrea Arpiarian Carden announced the launch of “We Sing Armenian Church Songs with Nvair & Friends (Armenian Badarak Hymns for Children),” a children’s sing-along album featuring Armenian liturgical music.
The foundation for the innovative project was laid ten years earlier, when Nvair, then the music teacher of the St. Leon Sunday School in New Jersey, and Andrea, who served as Superintendent, a position she holds to this day, were sharing a conversation about the growth of their parish’s diversity and the many new students coming from blended families. When discussing how to approach teaching a new generation of Armenian-Americans the hymns of the Divine Liturgy and making it accessible to them, they came across a series of Xeroxed pages of Yegmalian Badarak hymns, which included some English translations. They knew then what they could do to make Sunday school education for their students even more fruitful. Over the course of the next few years, they taught sing-alongs every Sunday morning and their efforts ultimately led them to the creation of the “We Sing Armenian Church Songs” album, which contains seven Armenian hymns recorded in both English and Armenian by Nvair with the HYEfamily Children’s Chorus, with a guest appearance by Ara Dinkjian.
“This album is about bringing our Armenian Church life into our daily lives,” said Nvair, who has a master’s degree in education and has been involved in “edutainment,” combining both education and entertainment elements for children, since 2001. “It can serve as a daily a reminder of who we are. By recording these hymns and placing them directly in the hands of parents, we provide them the opportunity to immerse their children in these songs and meaning simply by popping in a CD while in the car or in the play room. Our aim is to eventually have the family singing along together, not even realizing that they’ve learned an essential part of their Armenian Christian heritage.”
“We want the kids to feel comfortable in church,” said Andrea, who holds a master of arts degree and is a special education specialist in the New Jersey Public School system. “Feeling that connection and experiencing that familiarity gives them a reason to want to be part of the Armenian Church experience.”
Nvair and Andrea both grew up in the Armenian Church, Nvair at the St. Vartanantz Church in Ridgefield, New Jersey, where she put on a “shabig” at the age of five and began learning the Divine Liturgy as a participant in the church service and Andrea as a member of the Holy Cross Armenian Church parish in Union City. Even after entering adulthood and launching their careers, Nvair in television production and Andrea in the public education system, the Armenian Church remained their home. Joining their talents and forces, Nvair and Andrea came together to educate a new generation of Armenians about the richness of the Armenian Church.
With this album, the first of its kind, Nvair and Andrea say their mission is to spread the word of God to the Armenian youth through song and worship, and “create a bridge between the celebrated past, to face the reality of the present and to build the foundation of the future.”
In addition to the “We Sing Armenian Church Songs” album, Nvair and Andrea are scheduled to make interactive educational presentations to Sunday schools across the Eastern Diocese as well as to Armenian communities throughout the country. For upcoming appearances and to purchase a CD, visit the HYEfamily website. The album can also be purchased through Amazon.com, CDBaby.com, ArmenianVendor.com, and can be downloaded on iTunes.