The Kusen 2010 Choir performed a concert to commemorate a milestone in Armenian music, the birth of Gomidas Vartabed.
Groups in both Turkey and Armenia hold a series of free concerts to mark the 140th birthday of Kütahya-born Gomidas Vartabed, who is widely recognized as the father of modern Armenian classical music.
“We want to commemorate Gomidas in the land where he was born,” said Istanbul University Radio and Television Department student Sayat Dagliyan, 23, who helped form the Gomidas Platform.
The commemoratory “Gomidas Liturgical Music” concerts, which were made possible by a grant from the Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture Agency, will be held Thursday at 9 p.m. at the Surp Yerortutyum Armenian Church (Üç Horan Armenian Church) in Beyoglu’s Balikpazari and on Nov. 26 at Istanbul Kültür University’s Akingüç Oditorium free of charge.
The music performed by the Kusan 2010 Choir, the descendent of the original Kusan Choir that Vartabed formed himself over a century ago, and will be conducted by two Armenian maestros, including the conductor of Istanbul’s Lusavoriç Armenian Choir, Hagop Mamgonyan, and the conductor of the Karasunmangazs Armenian Choir, Edvin Galipoglu.
Mamigonyan said the Kusan 2010 Choir would perform a capella and be composed only of men, as it was in the past.
Galipoglu, meanwhile, said the choir members were made up of 30 amateurs from different age groups that were all educated in Istanbul’s Armenian choirs.
The choir performed Vartabed’s polyphonic “Badarak” (Divine Liturgy), which the maestro composed for the Armenian Apostolic Church but was not completed until its notation by his student in 1933 in Paris.
Turkish and Armenian youth together
One of the founding members of the Gomidas Platform, Sona Mentese, said realizing the project was akin to making a dream come true.
“We learned that the 2010 Istanbul Agency invited an orchestra from Armenia for Gomidas’ birthday but the orchestra was unable to come. Later, we presented the project and it was accepted. We thank the agency on behalf of Istanbul’s Armenians,” Mentese said.
At the end of last year Dagliyan made a short film on Vartabed, titled “Incu/Neden.” With the other members of the platform, he has been organizing the “Blind Photographers Project” since the beginning of the year for the performance of Vartabed’s works.
There are also young Turkish people among the team members. “We experience the pleasure of doing something together,” Dagliyan said. “In this way, we share the universal language of music and love like Gomidas showed us.”
Mamigonyan and Galipoglu said they had accelerated their rehearsals since August.
Noting that there had been disagreements among Armenian choirs, Mamigonyan said: “Some did not believe us that we would be able to make it properly. But we, a handful people, wanted to give life to Vartabed again.”
Galipoglu agreed with Mamigonyan and said the Armenian Patriarchate had provided great support to them.
Istanbul’s Armenians, who have closed themselves in the past because of their small numbers and a variety of other problems, have increasingly started to engage with the wider society. “It is true that we have opened to society in the cultural field. Some of our members are interested in politics, too,” said platform member Misak Hergel. “But the assassination of [Armenian-Turkish journalist] Hrant Dink discouraged us.”
Ethnomusicologist, composer and maestro Gomidas Vartabed was born in the Aegean province of Kütahya, which is famous for its tiles, in the middle of the 1800s. Born Sogomon Sogomonyan, Vartabed (which means priest) was an orphan and was sent to the Armenian Apostolic Central Church in Armenia to receive a religious education.
Later, he studied music at Berlin University and organized important conferences there. He is especially known for researching Armenian, Anatolian and Transcaucasian music, as well as Turkish, Kurdish, Azeri and Iranian musical forms.
When he recorded Armenian religious music at the beginning of 1900s, he had problems with Etchmiadzin and the Turkish Armenian Patriarchate.
He was also one of 230 Armenian intellectuals who were arrested in Istanbul and deported on April 24, 1915. After witnessing the murder of a number of friends during the deportation, Vartabed lost his mental health. He died in 1935 in Paris.
Text used from Hürriyet Daily News November 2010, VERCIHAN ZIFLIOGLU, ISTANBUL
Armenian Architects of Istanbul in the Era of Westernization
Last night, Istanbul Modern Museum was host to the Armenian-Turkish community and an exhibition on Armenian Architects of Istanbul. This event must have been an afterthought as it was not in the published list of exhibitions for December 2010, the final month of the 2010 Istanbul European Capıital of Culture Program and was held in the entrance hall and cocktails were served in the area beneath the hanging books at the Istanbul Modern Museum, where an exhibition by Kutlug Ataman is also taking place. I attended the opening ceremonies and viewed 100 large photographs of works by 40 Armenian architects with an architect friend, Beyhan Turer, who used to work in the States and was one of the founding members of the Society of Turkish-American Architects, Engineers and Scientists, in April 1970, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
The exhibition was evidently organized by the Hrant Dink Foundation and the Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture Agency. I believe it is a useful exhibition although crammed in a small area, which made it difficult to view the excellent photographs. Many buildings that we see around Istanbul were designed by Armenian Turkish architects, from palaces to mosques to villas, all wonderful buildings, even a dam and many towers and the entrance to Dolmabahce Palace and the Palace itself...
There were also two short video on the subject matter. A book featuring articles on the architects and architecture of the period and the photographs of buildings included in the exhibition is also available (60 TL.) In addition, within the scope of the exhibition, a panel on ''The Armenian Architects of Istanbul'' will be presented on December 14.
Several people spoke including Rachel Dink, wife of the late Hrant Dink who was murdered 3 years ago, first in Turkish than in Armenian. However, an earlier speaker mentioned the tragedy and stated that they will never forget, which I thought was inappropriate. Everyone was there, Cengiz Aktar, Cengiz Candar, many Armenian authors and writers, President of Istanbul Modern Mrs. Eczacıbası and many others.
An Armenian who was wearing a hat complained about several things, stating that may be 10 of the attendees numbering 300 were true.. In fact I never saw an opening with so many people before..
Istanbul’s Armenian Architects Remembered In Exhibition
December 9, 2010, ISTANBUL - AA
Armenian architects, who have built many well-known structures in Istanbul, are remembered in an exhibition that opened Wednesday at the Istanbul Modern. The exhibition displays photos of 100 buildings constructed by 40 Armenian architects who lived in Istanbul in the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century
The exhibition at the Istanbul Modern, displaying photos of Istanbul's well-known structures constructed by Armenian architects, also sheds light on the city's recent history.
An exhibition titled “Armenian Architects of Istanbul in the Era of Westernization,” featuring photos of 100 buildings constructed by 40 Armenian architects who lived in Istanbul at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, opened Wednesday at the Istanbul Modern.
The exhibition is organized in collaboration with the Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture Agency, Istanbul Modern, International Hrant Dink Foundation and Architects and Engineers Solidarity Association, or HAYCAR.
At a press conference for the opening of the exhibition, chief curator Levent Çalikoglu said the exhibition featured more than 100 works by 40 Armenian architects whose names had been forgotten, adding that the educational event would also shed light on Istanbul’s recent history. Çalikoglu said architect Hasan Kuruyazici visually documented the buildings on every street in Kurtulus, Pangalti, Taksim, Cihangir, Tarlabasi, Tünel, Galata, Eminönü and Mahmutpasa.
“There will also be two short films screened during the exhibition and visitors will learn about the buildings thanks to the sound system in the exhibition area. In parallel with the exhibition, designed by Erkal Levi, a panel discussion on Istanbul’s Armenian architects will be organized and visitors will see the buildings accompanied by guides.”
Istanbul Capital of Culture Agency Deputy Secretary-General Mehmet Gürkan said the modernization period that started during the Tanzimat reform era brought innovations in cultural fields and resulted in changes to physical structures. He said settlement areas were also developed during that period and the city needed architects.
Gürkan said Armenian architects made many works during that period. “Among the ones working for the palace, the Balyan brothers left their mark on many structures including the Çiragan, Beylerbeyi and Dolmabahçe palaces.”
Speaking on behalf of the Hrant Dink Foundation, Sibel Asna said the exhibition reminded Istanbul residents of forgotten Armenian architects and their structures, and had a mission to raise awareness about the protection of those structures that are creating the silhouette of the city.
Asna said a book prepared within the scope of the exhibition, city tours and conferences would also contribute to the issue. She said many renowned structures like Kuleli Military School, Harbiye Military Museum, the Ortaköy Mosque, Büyükada Port, Beyazit Tower and Kadiköy Süreyya Theater were built by Armenian architects.
The curator of the exhibition, Hasan Kuruyazici, said they attached importance to visual features of the exhibition during the preparation process. He said he carried out a 15-year study about the works of Armenian architects in Istanbul and the photography took one year.
The exhibition will run until Jan. 2. Hurriyet
Armenian Architects To Be Immortalized In New Book, Exhibition
07 July 2010, / TODAY’S ZAMAN
Curiosity, as the proverb goes, might kill the cat, but more often than not, it yields pleasant results. The curiosity in architect Hasan Kuruyazici has done just that -- in the form of a book project.
Curious about the architects of awe-inspiring old buildings in Istanbul’s historic quarters such as Galata, Cihangir and Tarlabasi, Kuruyazici set out to document the contributions Armenian architects of Istanbul made to the city’s urban landscape. The outcome is a book and exhibition project, titled “Armenian Architects of Istanbul and Their Contributions in Istanbul’s Architecture.”
The project, which is co-financed by the Istanbul-based Hrant Dink Foundation and HAYCAR, a solidarity group of Turkish architects and civil engineers, seeks to highlight the role of forgotten Armenian architects in shaping Istanbul’s urban architecture during the 19th and 20th centuries.
The project will conclude in November with the publication of the book and a parallel exhibition, both coming as part of the Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture program.
Having conducted a similar project earlier with Greek architects in Istanbul, Kuruyazici describes the motive behind his study. “Today there is a huge stock of buildings dating from the 19th century [in Istanbul]. Although many of them had been ravaged, these are ones that managed to survive. The question of ‘Who built all these buildings?’ has brought me to conduct such research,” he said.
The list of architects Kuruyazici came up with after long trips around the streets of Kurtulus-Tatavla, Pangalti, Taksim, Cihangir, Tarlabasi, Tünel, Galata, Eminönü and Mahmutpasa will be mentioned in the upcoming exhibition and book.
The Hrant Dink Foundation says work is still under way to uncover information about Armenian architects in Istanbul and their works, particularly the life stories of those who lived and built in Istanbul in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.