“…I am the open wound between
Orient and Occident.”
To commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, the Dresdner Sinfoniker and guitarist Marc Sinan initiated the concert project aghet – ağıt which successfully premiered in RADIALSYSTEM V in Berlin in November 2015. Using the double-title aghet – ağıt, the Dresdner Sinfoniker and Sinan made the genocide of the Armenian people the starting point and subject matter of a musical project, and attracted considerable international attention, especially when the Turkish ambassador to the EU called on the EU Commission to halt the project. Following Hasretim and Dede Korkut, it was the third and final part of a trilogy, in which the Sinfoniker and Sinan explored notions of origin and identity, based on the history and culture of Anatolia and the Caucasus region. aghet – ağıt is dedicated to Marc Sinan’s Armenian grandmother, Vahide, a survivor of the genocide.
In Turkish, the term ağıt means dirge, or mournful song. Aghet – catastrophe – is one of the terms used by the Armenians to designate the tragedy that befell them in 1915. Leading Armenian intellectuals in the Ottoman Empire were arrested in Istanbul – a development that resulted in deportations of Armenians throughout Anatolia, mass murder and death marches into the Syrian desert: up to 1.5 million people were killed. To this day Turks and Armenians cannot agree on a common narrative that would allow for an unambiguous description of these events. As the most important Turkish ally during the First World War, the German Empire was also embroiled in these criminal acts, yet the German Foreign Ministry ignored all reports about deportations and slaughter.
The Dresdner Sinfoniker set a sign of reconciliation with their concerts and were joined by musicians from Turkey, Armenia, Germany as well as members of the No Borders Orchestra, which in itself also is a reconciliation project, bringing together musicians from the former Yugoslav states. Two commissioned works by Zeynep Gedizlioğlu (Turkey) and Helmut Oehring (Germany) and the viola-duduk double concerto Surgite Gloriae by Armenian composer Vache Sharafyan formed the heart of this extraordinary commemoration project. Beyond the highly symbolic artistic collaboration the concert project saw the creation of a core orchestra of 12 musicians from Germany, Turkey, Armenia, Serbia and Bosnia and extensive mediation activities, for instance a youth theatre performance of the Vitzthum high school in Dresden and the high-school in Dresden-Plauen based on Franz Werfel’s novel The 40 Days of Musa Dagh, and the photo exhibition The Bare Life of photojournalists Christoph Püschner and Frank Schultze on the highly topical subject of flight and expulsion.
In cooperation with HELLERAU – European Centre for the Arts Dresden, Dresdner Kammerchor and AuditivVokal, RADIALSYSTEM V Berlin, No Borders Orchestra, National Chamber Orchestra of Armenia, and Marc Sinan Company. Supported by Creative Europe, Hauptstadtkulturfonds, Cultural Foundation of the Free State of Saxony, City of Dresden, Dresden Cultural Foundation of the Dresdner Bank, Fonds Soziokultur, German Foreign Ministry, Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Armenia and Goethe-Institut Georgia.
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