Cellist Edvard Pogossian Enchants Boston Pops Crowd

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BOSTON, Mass.—Edvard Pogossian is his father’s keeper—a chip off the same musical block.

Twenty-six years after his dad debuted with Armenian Night at the Pops, on comes the son to apply the same finesse with his cello.

The young Julliard virtuoso snatched his own limelight May 27 with an exhilarating rendition of Tchaikovsky’s “Variations of a Rococo Theme,” in Symphony Hall.

Cellist Edvard Pogossian performing

On the eve of the First Independent Republic of 1918, conductor Keith Lockhart acknowledged Armenia’s Independence and looked to Pogossian to carry the show.

“This amazing young man will blow you away on the cello,” Lockhart said in his introduction. “One of the things I truly enjoy as conductor is some of the friendships our Pops has built upon with the Armenian community and the people it brings together.”

On came Pogossian to display his wares.  Without any sheet music before him, he wrapped himself around the cello and gave the piece an uncanny brilliance, eyes searching the audience but very much focused upon the matter at hand. One rehearsal with the Pops was all that time allowed.

“Mr. Lockhart made the whole experience as comfortable and professional as I could have imagined,” Pogossian said. “Being supported by such a world class orchestra as the Pops and such a great conductor was so unbelievably wonderful and a day I shall never forget.”

Edvard is no stranger to the “Rococo” classic, having performed it while winning the Julliard Concerto Competition in New York and again in Chicago with the Julliard Orchestra under the direction of Itzhak Perlman.

One might gather his father’s presence in Symphony Hall infused the spirit and motivation behind Edvard’s performance. In 1990, Movses Pogossian made his American debut performing the Tchaikovsky Concerto with the Boston Pops on the violin. The Boston Globe wrote it up and lauded the artist for an exceptional performance.

“My father is a wonderful musician and has definitely inspired me in many ways, both in music and in life,” said the son. “It was a great sentiment that he performed this very same concert 26 years ago. In the end, his impact and influence on me was much bigger than specifically this concert. For this performance, I tried my hardest to be able to make my own musical voice heard as successfully as I possibly could.”

Pogossian considers the “Rococo Variations” a challenging, yet amazing piece with such an exhilarating finale. In the end, it was clear he was deeply spent from his exuberance.

“To be completely honest, I was so pumped up and wired afterwards that I couldn’t sleep until very late into the night,” he revealed. “There is always a good amount of stress associated with concerts of this magnitude, especially for someone not yet on the professional level.”

If there’s a better Armenian cellist on the American scene, let them step forward.  Pogossian certainly made a case for himself on this evening before a packed house.  The 65th anniversary of Armenian Night at the Pops was just the right occasion to lay out a stellar effort.

Edvard found it rather challenging to maintain other serious interests once he enrolled at a conservatory like Julliard. One passion he’s been able to continue is his love for soccer, whether it’s a pick-up game or watching matches.

Boston’s Symphony Hall (Photo: Javier Caballero)

He is also a dedicated fan of classical music and listens for hours at a time, no doubt the inimitable Yo-Yo Ma being on his list of favorite cellists.

Actually, when Pogossian was merely 4 years old, he wanted to play the double bass. To his dismay, his parents told him there were none his size and encouraged him to start with the cello.

“I completely forgot about the bass and have been playing cello ever since,” he said. “I have never encountered a single regret.  It’s by far my favorite instrument and I hope to play it for the rest of my life.”

Pogossian has always been appreciative of the support he has received from the Armenian community, whether it’s in Los Angeles, New York City or Boston.  He’s covered a lot of ground in such a short career that appears to have skyrocketed of late.

I encountered so much warmth and camaraderie during the Pops,” he added.  “For that, I am grateful.”

All it took was a trip out the door before being surrounded by a mass of Armenian fans.  At the other end of Symphony Hall, singer/actress Sutton Foster encountered her own fan club after her performance of Broadway show tunes following intermission.

Pogossian’s grandparents still live in Armenia where he has visited on several occasions. He says it’s always a treat to visit that country with its vast history and culture. His ultimate goal is turning music into a lifestyle, whether playing the instrument or teaching it.

This summer, he’ll involve himself with chamber groups and building up his resume.

“For now, I’m trying to attend school for as long as I’m able so I can be as honest and capable a musician as possible,” he brought out.

As far as Armenian Night goes at the Pops, Ara Arakelian remains buoyant about the past as well as the present and future. He looks with pride at the 65-year history and points to a number of performing artists who have enjoyed flourishing careers, among them another cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan, violinist Emmanuel Tjeknavorian and pianist Nareh Arghamanyan.

The chairman of Friends of Armenian Culture Society (FACS) points to the relentless support and enthusiasm as being key to his group’s success. In the coming year, FACS will embark on a project to explore the inspirations and influences of Armenian music and artists on other cultures.

“Occasionally, the opportunity arises for introducing a new work to Boston audiences,” said Arakelian. “Fellow Armenians from all walks of life gather to celebrate the emergence of a new talented performing artist. Our goal is to continue preserving the gems of Armenian culture and music in the most professional settings and venues.”

Source: Armenian Weekly
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