A native of Bloomington, Indiana, Ana Papakhian stayed close to home for her educational career, attending the Indiana University School of Music for both her undergraduate and graduate degrees. After completing her Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance, Ana moved to New Orleans for a year, where she freelanced and performed with the New Orleans Opera. She relocated from the Bayou to the Big Apple, taking auditions in the city and working as the executive assistant with the Piatigorsky Foundation (an interesting Music Academy connection, as cellist Gregor Piatigorsky was one of the Academy’s earliest faculty members).
“I’d been working there for about a year when a friend of mine from The Juilliard School said, ‘Marilyn Horne is looking for an assistant. Are you interested?’” she recalls. “So, I met Marilyn and she offered me the job on the spot.”
“There’s a word that came to mind when I first met Ana that I think really speaks to who she is,” recalls Ms. Horne. “That word is serene. I found her to be a very serene person. She still has that kind of serenity that is so calming and helpful.”
Ana travelled the world with Marilyn Horne, visiting places from Paris, France to Laramie, Wyoming. She had once-in-a-lifetime experiences, met all manner of interesting people, and, most importantly, formed a lifelong bond with Ms. Horne, who says of Ana, “she remains one of my dearest friends to this day.”
She also spent those five summers at the Music Academy. In addition to overseeing Ms. Horne’s personal business, Ana did administrative work for what was then called the Vocal Program, including preparing song texts and translations for Academy programs. And all the while she was listening, learning, and making lasting connections. It was during this time that she first met John Churchwell, who joined the Academy’s faculty in 2000. She also found common cause with another eager, young administrator-in-training: Scott Reed, who was then working at the Music Academy as a summer intern.