Vocal Art of Armenian Composers after the Genocide

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The year 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. The project “The Vocal Art of Armenian Composers: Survivors of the Genocide” aims to commemorate those who lost their lives and to celebrate the survivors whose works contributed not only to Armenian musical culture but to the musical world at large.

The idea to publish an anthology of vocal music of the surviving diaspora Armenian composers is pioneered by Hasmig Injejikian, voice teacher at the McGill Conservatory, whose mission is to introduce this music to a larger musical community.  The publication along with a CD will be sent, free of charge, to Music Libraries in Universities and Conservatoires throughout the US and Canada.

To promote this compilation, the works of the following five composers will be presented in a concert this September 27th at McGill’s Pollack Hall:  Kourken Alemshah (1907-1947), Vahan Bedelian (1894-1990), Hampartzoum Berberian (1905-1999), Parsegh Ganatchian (1885-1967), and Avedis Messouments (1905-1981). A few selections from Komitas’ works will also be included in the concert.

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According to statistics approximately 80% of the Ottoman Armenians were lost either by direct killings, deportation, starvation, mass burning and drowning. The survivors scattered throughout the Near East, Europe and across the globe. They had to find new homes, adapt to new life styles and new ways of cultural and artistic expressions. In the scarcity of what was left, they had to repair the bridge of cultural and musical transmission between generations. The composers of the post-Genocide generation set to music poems which reflected the sentiments of deportees: nostalgia, longing to return to their homeland and awareness of the futility of such a desire. Although educated in the Western musical traditions, they clung to the Armenian musical elements, thus securing the transmission and retention of their culture. It is these songs that are selected for the project.

Mr. Vahan Bedelian, better known as a violin and a music teacher, trained generations of violinists and musicians. His work has enriched the cultural and musical life of not only Armenian communities but also the musical scenes in Cyprus, England, the U.S. and Canada.

Aline Kutan, Sasha Djihanian, Armine Kassabian, Elie Berberian and Mathieu Abel, along with pianist Michael McMahon, will perform their music at McGill Schulich School of Music Pollack Hall (555 Sherbrooke West) on the 27th of September at 4pm. The tickets are $25 and $15 for students.

This Project is dedicated to all grandparents who having survived the Genocide, deportations and unspeakable hardships, adapted to a new life and became the building bridge between the past and the present

Proceeds go towards the McGill Conservatory Scholarship Fund

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