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  • Cris Mendoza-Howell


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I John Chookasezian (Chookasian), was born in NYC to Armenian immigrant parents; that survived the 1915 "Armenian Genocide," perpetrated by the Turkish Ottoman Empire. I have been a Music and Special Education teacher for various school districts for over 30 years. I taught in Fresno for FUSD for 18 years. I also taught Music & Ethnic Studies courses at the Univ of Nevada, Las Vegas for 3 years.

I have been a musician and director of various Armenian and Middle Eastern Ensembles for the past 35 years, notably, "The King Tut Revue." Our revue performed and entertained in all of the major hotels of Las Vegas, Nevada for over 12 years.

Our live university concert CD "Passage to Armenia," during the 2006 "Independent Music Awards," won 1st Place as the "Best Traditional World Music Album" from thousands of CD submissions from around the world.

The Chookasian Ensemble and the Zvartnots Dancers presented a 2 hour Armenian concert program at CSU, Fresno during 2006. Our local PBS KVPT station came and filmed the entire event. Each time our CSU, Fresno Armenian concert was broadcasted, over 2 million people in the Central Valley had access to view it during 2006.

I was quite humbled, when I received notice that I was to be selected and honored by the Fresno Arts Council at the City of Fresno's 18th Annual "Horizon Awards," as the recipient of the "Artist of the Year," award.

Fresno City Council President, Mr. Henry Perea Sr. presented our Chookasian Armenian Ensemble and I with Fresno's "Key to Fresno City" plaque and award.

Fresno Mayor, Alan Autry; Fresno Councilman, Tom Boyajian; S .F Mayor, Willie Brown; Troy, NY Mayor, Harry Tutunjian; Congressman, George Radanovich, and Senator Charles Poochigian, presented us with "Proclamations" naming "Chookasian Armenian Concert Ensemble Days" in each of the cities that we performed in.

Lastly, The President of Armenia, Mr. Robert Kocharian,
personally invited our Chookasian Ensemble to do a month-long concert/festival series throughout Armenia.

During our last concert program in Yerevan's Grand Philharmonic Hall, the Cultural Ambassador, Mr Royland Sharoyan, presented me with "Armenia's National Gold Medal Award," for my many years of dedication and preservation of traditional Armenian music, dance & culture.

I am constantly searching for various performance venues and grants, in order for our Armenian Ensemble to continue to present our Armenian cultural programs to the general public at large.
Arts Specialty:
The "Chookasian Armenian Concert Ensemble," Armenia's National Gold Medal Award" recipients, are composed of of 8-14 conservatory graduate musicians from Armenian & the USA. We also have access to 20-45 Armenian folk dance ensemble included in our concert programs when they are requested.

Mission: To preserve & present traditional Armenian Music and Folk Dance to ALL of the people in the USA and world!

For the past 15 years, we have presented the traditional songs & dances of Eastern and Western Armenia, on rarely seen or heard indigenous acoustic instruments; in many diverse concert & festival venues throughout Armenia and across the United States of America.


'MUSIC TO MADNESS' Film Documentary

The Documentary Film


Written and directed by David Robert Deranian, Phd,



Posted on April 18, 2014 at 10:16am

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At 8:28am on August 28, 2008, Cris Mendoza-Howell said…
Hello John,

Glad you were able to join the Fresno Arts online site. This is an awesome space to get to know all the peoples who are interested and influential in the arts.

I hope you make it to the Festival. If you already have a number prepared, maybe even join us onstage. Still undecided? Take a look at what we have done in the past 3 years at

Tickets are at a discount at the moment and our audience, like our dancers, come from all walks of life.

For the Love of Dance,
Cris Mendoza-Howell

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