“…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 conceived the concert project aghet – ağıt which successfully premiered in RADIALSYSTEM V in Berlin in November 2015, dedicated to Sinan’s grandmother Vahide, a survivor of the genocide. The production was again performed at Festspielhaus Hellerau, in April, 2016 and in cooperation with the No Borders Orchestra the show toured further to Belgrade in Serbia and Yerevan in Armenia in November of the same year.
In Turkish, the term ağıt means mournful song, while aghet is the word used by the Armenians to describe the tragedy that befell them in 1915. The concert attracted considerable international attention with the Turkish ambassador to the EU calling on the EU Commission to halt the project.
During the conflict, leading Armenian intellectuals in the Ottoman Empire were arrested in Istanbul –resulting in deportations of Armenians throughout Anatolia, mass murder and death marches into the Syrian desert, with an estimated 1.5 million people being 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 attempted to achieve reconciliation with their concerts and were joined by musicians from Turkey, Armenia and Germany, as well as members of the No Borders Orchestra, (which is also 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 core of this extraordinary commemoration project.
The concert saw the creation of a central orchestra featuring 12 musicians from Germany, Turkey, Armenia, Serbia and Bosnia, as well as mediation activities. These included, a youth theatre performance of Franz Werfel’s novel The 40 Days of Musa Dagh, and the photo exhibition The Bare Life by 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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