Sarkis Baltaian (concert pianist)

Sarkis Baltaian, emerging as one of the most promising young pianists of his generation, has gained an international reputation as a concert pianist, soloist, chamber musician and recording artist. Praised by critics for his “beautiful tone and ability to project even the most delicate pianissimos” and compared to George Gershwin and Oscar Levant for his performance of Gershwin’s Concerto in F, Mr. Baltaian made his Carnegie Hall Debut in 1999 and has performed extensively throughout the United States, Germany, Austria, Holland, Czech Republic and Bulgaria. He has frequently appeared as a soloist with various orchestras including USC Thornton Symphony, American Youth Symphony, Plovdiv, Pleven, Sliven Philharmonics, Sofia Soloist Orchestra (Bulgaria), to name a few. Together with his sister violinist Aroussiak Baltaian, he has been featured as a guest artist at the 1999 Los Angeles Philharmonic International Gala and also appeared at the 2000 World Piano Pedagogy Convention in Las Vegas.

Mr. Baltaian is the 1999 winner of the USC Piano Concerto Competition. He is also a Grand prize winner of the Armenian Allied Arts Association Competition, the “Young Piano Virtuosi” International Competition in the Czech Republic and the “Svetoslav Obretenov” National Competition in Bulgaria. His festival appearances include the Aspen International Music Festival, Holland Music Sessions and Plovdiv International Chamber Music Festival. Mr. Baltaian has made numerous recordings for Television and Radio Stations in the United States, Holland, Czech Republic and Bulgaria. He has been featured in live radio broadcasts on KUSC “Sundays at Four”, Los Angeles, WMFT’s “Dame Myra Hess” series in Chicago, KNPR Classical series, Las Vegas.

Sarkis Baltaian, of Armenian descent was born in Plovdiv, Bulgaria and began to study piano at the age of four with Rositza Ivancheva at the “Dobrin Petkov” Music School. Awarded a merit scholarship from the University of Southern California and grants from AGBU-New York and USC Friends of Armenian Music, he continued his education at USC where he received the Bachelor and Masters of Music Degrees and became the Outstanding Graduate of the Keyboard Department. His principal teacher has been John Perry and he has also worked with various musicians such as Sergiu Commisiona, Larry Livingston, Alan Remington, Vasil Kazandjiev, Emile Naumov, Karl-Ulrich Schnabel, Gyorgy Sandor, Menahem Pressler, John O’Connor, Germaine Muniet, Lee Kum-Sing, Edna Golandsky, Nina Scolnik, Milton Stern, Sergei Dorensky, Dmitri Bashkirov.

Sarkis Baltaian is a frequent adjudicator for such organizations as the California Association of Professional Music Teachers, Music Teachers Association of California, Southwestern Youth Music Festival and was recently appointed to become the District Coordinator for CAMPT District IX.

From 2002-2006, Dr. Baltaian served as the teaching assistant to Professor John Perry at the University of Southern California and was also a member of the piano faculty at the California State University, Los Angeles from 2005-2008.

Currently, Dr. Baltaian is an Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

Alecko Eskandarian

A two-time All-Star and five-time MLS Goal of the Week winner, Eskandarian has captured awards throughout his career, including the 2002 Hermann Trophy after his junior year at the University of Virginia. Eskandarian, who is of Armenian descent, is the son of Iranian National team player Andranik Eskandarian, who represented his country at the 1978 World Cup and thereafter played for the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League.

MLS Experience

2009: Currently plays for the Los Angeles Galaxy.

2008: After missing much of the first half of the season due to sports hernia surgery, Eskandarian came on strong late in the year and finished the season tied for first on the team with five goals. In a span between Aug. 30 and Oct. 4, he scored against each of his three previous teams (RSL, DC, Toronto).

2007: Between Real Salt Lake and Toronto, played 23 games (starting all 23), scoring 2 goals and adding 3 assists, logging 1,913 minutes.

2006: Came back from his concussion by scoring against New York in the season opener, and finished the year with seven goals and two assists, including Goal of the Week honors on May 13 for his tally against KC. His impressive return to form netted Eskandarian a Commissioner’s Pick as an MLS All-Star.

2005: In 12 games (seven starts), recorded one goal and one assist before suffering a season-ending concussion on June 18 at New England after colliding with Revs GK Matt Reis.

2004: Led D.C. United in scoring with 10 goals and earning MLS Cup MVP honors while guiding the team to an MLS Cup victory, and was twice awarded MLS Player of the Week honors (6/19 and 9/11) and won four Sierra Mist Goal of the Week accolades (4/3, 6/19, 7/3, and 9/18). His strong play also earned him the D.C. United Coaches Award for 2004 and his first spot on the MLS All-Star team.

2003: After being the first overall pick in the 2003 MLS SuperDraft, Eskandarian appeared in 23 games for D.C. United and finished his first MLS season with three goals and two assists.

International

Was named to the U.S. U-23 National Team for the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Guadalajara, Mexico in 2004, finishing the tournament with four goals, including a hat trick against Honduras. He earned his lone cap for the U.S. Senior Men’s National Team on May 26, 2003, against Wales in San Jose.

College

Played three standout seasons at the University of Virginia and established himself as one of the all-time greats at the school, finishing his Cavaliers career with 50 goals (including 15 game winners) and 13 assists. In his junior season, in 2002, Eskandarian set a single-season school record with 25 goals, and collected nearly every award he was up for after being named the Missouri Athletic Club’s Hermann Trophy award winner, Soccer America’s Player of the Year, a NSCAA/adidas NCAA Division I First Team All-American, and many others. In his sophomore year, Eskandarian scored nine goals, and was a Second Team All-American. As a freshman, in 2000, led the team with 16 goals and six assists.

Personal

Parents are Andranik and Anahid, older brother is Ara…His father, Andranik, was a professional soccer player for the New York Cosmos and played in the 1978 World Cup with Iran; Ara played soccer at Villanova…Was born in Hackensack, NJ, raised in Montvale, NJ, and currently lives in Hermosa Beach but is a fan of all New Jersey sports teams: the Nets, Jets and Mets. Also enjoys watching Arsenal play…Is proud of his Armenian heritage, and is happy to be in Los Angeles where he can give back to a large Armenian community. Cites Armenian food as his favorite, along with Mexican food and sushi…Best soccer memory is scoring a goal in the first game of the 2004 MLS season on national television and dedicating it to his friend Nicole Megaloudis, who had recently passed away: “I wrote a message for her on my t-shirt underneath my jersey and I know it touched many people, especially her family, who were able to see that.”

Honors

MLS Cup Champion (2004)

MLS Cup MVP (2004)

MLS All-Star (2004, 2006)

Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy Winner (2002)

NCAA First Team All-American (2002)

NCAA Second Team All-American (2001)

Avo Uvezian

World Class Cigar Maestro

Avo Uvezian is a cosmopolitan who began his career as a musician and went on to become a composer, cigar aficionado and even a creator of fine cigars.

Avo, who lent his name to AVO Cigars, has nurtured all these talents in his quest for perfection. In both music and the creation of cigars, passion is the driving force that spurs him to find perfect harmony.

The Man

Avo Uvezian was born in 1926, into a musical family of Armenian extraction living in Beirut.

His father was a composer and conductor of a symphony orchestra, his mother a gifted singer. The dream of this talented young pianist was a great career as a musician.

His ability and enormous commitment – still evident to this day – brought him success at an early age.

The Musician

As a teenager, he travelled the Near and Middle East with his jazz trio “Lebanon Boys”. The contacts made there led the young jazz pianist to the USA in 1947 where he studied classical piano and music composition at the renowned “Julliard School of Music” in New York.

During his studies Avo played with great success in various bands. The Korean War interrupted his career, as he served with the US Army as a musician until 1953.

After that, Avo played with the great jazz musicians of the 50s and 60s. His dream had come true – he had established his career as a musician.

The Connoisseur

Avo, a polyglot, also established himself as a businessman. Travelling to Puerto Rico in the nineteen eighties, he opened a restaurant and a piano bar.

It was in Puerto Rico that Avo discovered his love of cigars which was to become his second great passion.

As a perfectionist par excellence, he very soon had his own AVO cigars rolled and gave them away to his guests, with whom they were in great demand. It was however his five-year-old daughter who was to prove the inspiration for his business acumen. When one of Avo’s listeners at the pool bar asked him for a cigar, she said: “Daddy, if he wants another one, let him pay for it.” Perhaps that was the decisive signal to open up his second passion to a wider audience. The path from connoisseur to cigar composer was just a matter of time.

The Businessman

In 1982, while seeking a suitable manufacturer, Avo made the acquaintance of master cigar maker Hendrik Kelner in the Dominican Republic and a harmonious relationship developed between them. The first AVO cigars went on sale in New York in 1988. Two passionate aficionados had come together and the outcome was predestined: “Cigars in Perfect Harmony”.

Avo was soon receiving as many compliments for them as for his melodies. Hendrik Kelner and Avo Uvezian started off with 100,000 cigars in the first year. Within ten years, sales rose to over three million cigars per year.

“Success in perfect harmony” – with both his first career in music and with his cigars, Avo Uvezian has devoted himself to perfect harmony and unrivalled quality.

Emil Kazaz – Exclusive Exhibit Video

Is the beauty of art subjective? There are countless opinions when it comes to this topic. But, whatever the popular consensus to this question, we think that there is one man whose art transcends conventional wisdom when it comes to beauty.

His name, Emil Kazaz.

Unlike any artwork we have ever seen, Emil’s subjects are robustly striking, universally (and simultaneously) appealing and appalling, and unabashedly grotesque. And we wouldn’t want it any other way. His vision of the world is vastly unique, uncompromising, and incomparable. He is an original, a master. So much so, we speak his name in the same breath as Van Gogh, Picasso, and Michelangelo.

His recent exhibit in Los Angeles reaffirmed our feelings about the man and his work. A
few dozen frighteningly charming sculptures and painfully elaborate paintings consumed the minds of the hordes in attendance. The entire gallery was abuzz with electricity, as if we were all knowingly in the presence of eternal greatness, experiencing a special feeling for art that will be, indubitably, even more celebrated and appreciated by generations to come.

Although pictures cannot do justice for his work, we have an exclusive short video of his Los Angeles exhibit we would like to share with you. We hope that this video gives you a glimpse of this man’s brilliance.

Watch Exclusive Emil Kazaz Video