The Sound of the Morning Light | Gomidas at 150 concert

Armenian composer and musicologist Gomidas was commemorated in Berlin, Istanbul and Diyarbakir with concerts featuring many artists, held with the collaboration of Anadolu Kultur, Kalan Music and the Maxim Gorki Theatre on the 150th anniversary of his birth.

A Kutahya-born clergyman, Gomidas received a conservatory education in Tbilisi and Berlin, studying both classical Western music, liturgical music and folk music. Gomidas compiled Turkish, Kurdish, and Persian folk songs along with Armenian peasant music from the 19th century onwards. Thanks to these efforts of his, over 2.000 folk songs from various parts of Anatolia and the Caucasus - which would soon suffer great losses due to wars, massacres, and migrations - were recorded and/or transcribed. He was, however, arrested and sent on exile on April 24, 1915, and his works were confiscated. This trauma cost him his mental health. Completely severing his relationship with music and the world from this date onwards for the 20 years to come, Gomidas passed away in 1935 in a psychiatry clinic in Paris.

Gomidas' work in musicology, important in terms of the preservation and transfer of cultural memory, has unfortunately not received adequate attention in studies in this field in Turkey or abroad, and music audiences remain mostly unaware of it. These concerts aimed to familiarize the world with Gomidas and put the spotlight on the musical heritage he has left behind.

The first of these concerts held in order to cherish this multilingual musical heritage of Gomidas took place in Berlin's Maxim Gorki Theatre on October 5, 2019. American-Armenian oud virtuoso of Diyarbakir origin Ara Dinkjian, Berlin-based pianist Alexandr Iradyan, duduk and mey master Ertan Tekin, soprano from Mardin Pervin Chakar, the Vomank Band producing alternative music in Western Armenian in Istanbul, and Yerkaran Project known for bringing to light Gomidas' Kurdish and Turkish compilations performed in the "Voicing Gomidas" concert.

Many artists from Turkey, Armenia and the US took part in the "Sound of the Morning Light | Gomidas at 150" concert dated October 7, 2019, in the Istanbul Cemal Resit Rey Concert Hall. Among these were Aynur Dogan, Ertan Tekin, the Karatzayn Quartet, Kevork Tavityan, Levon Eroyan, Lusavorich Children's Choir and Sevana Tchakerian, Pervin Chakar, Sevval Sam, the Vomank band, and Yerkaran Project, as well as GOGHT - a band from Armenia, and Ara Dinkjian and the Zulal Trio from the US.

Before this concert, on October 5-6, 2019, a workshop with Istanbul based Lusavorich Children's Choir was held in the hall of Surp Harootiun Armenian Church in Istanbul. During the two-day workshop conducted by Sevana Tchakerian, an Armenia-France based musician, songwriter and music educator, in collaboration with the choir's conductor Hrant Cizmeciyan, the children had learned two songs by Gomidas: "Vay Gidi Blbuls" and "Inchu Bingeole Mdar".

Furthermore, on the day of the concert, a Gomidas-themed exhibition curated by Birzamanlar Publishing was held and additionally, Melissa Bilal's and Burcu Yildiz's book Kalbim O Viran Evlere Benzer: Gomidas Vartabed'in Müzik Mirası (My Heart Is Like Those Ruined Houses: The Musical Heritage of Gomidas Vartabed) promoted in the foyer area of the concert hall. A Gomidas ceramics collection produced by the Muscari Association and Family Care Foundation in Gyumri (Armenia) also accompanied this exhibition.

The concert could be live watched by more than 1.200 people. Additionally, the concert was also broadcasted on YouTube to reach to an even greater audience. The first and second parts of the concert are still available on the Kalan Music's YouTube channel.

The last concert took place in the Kervansaray Hotel in Diyarbakir on October 11, 2019. Featuring Ara Dinkjian, Ari Hergel, Ertan Tekin, Pervin Chakar and the Zulal Trio, the concert brought Gomidas' voice to almost 600 music-lovers in Diyarbakir.

All three concerts were supported by the Federal Foreign Office of Germany, Allianz Kulturstiftung and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.