Sirvart Kalpakyan Karamanuk Children’s Songs /Սիրվարդ Կալպակյան Կարամանուկ Մանկական երգեր

Everything started with this book when a friend of mine found it in a second hand bookstore in İstanbul and gave me as a present. For sure I didn’t know that it was going to open an inmense world of Armenian children’s songs culture for me. Thanks for the book I had the chance of knowing Sirvart Karamanuk.



Sirvart Kalpakyan Karamanuk  was born on December 1, 1912, in the Üsküdar district of Constantinople (Istanbul) and died on October 19, 2008 in Istanbul at the age 95. She began studying the piano at age five under the tutelage of her older sister Arminé. She attended the Dayyan and Esayan Schools and studied at the Istanbul Municipal Conservatory, where she took classes in piano, music theory, music history, and related subjects; she graduated in 1939. Impressed by her superior musical gifts, her teachers—among them Stepan Papelyan, Liko Amar, Cemal Reşit Rey, Adnan Saygun, and in particular, Ferdi Statzer— suggested that she take private lessons in composition.

Karamanuk’s first compositions, written in the 1940s, were for the piano. She gradually broadened her musical interests, composing numerous art songs, choral works, large-scale compositions for chorus and orchestra (Akhtamar and The Song of Bedros Turian), pieces for string quartet, a children’s operetta (Tomorrow’s Artists), children’s songs, and arrangements of liturgical chants. Karamanuk’s compositions have been performed in more than a dozen countries and are recorded by well-known soloists and large ensembles. In 1999, Yerevan’s Aram Khachaturian Museum organized a concert featuring her works; a year later a similar concert took place in the main auditorium of the performing arts center in Armenia’s capital. In 2003, her art songs were featured in a concert in Yerevan; the following year, Akhtamar, a film based on her synonymous symphonic poem, was premiered in the capital city’s Moscow Theatre. Her works have been published by the State Museum of Literature and Art of Armenia, the Armenian General Benevolent Union of America, and the Turkish-Armenian Teachers Association of Istanbul.


The most impressing thing about her that when she was a child she was composing with her internal voice, without playing the piano. These internal compositions went on for years.

When I started to play Sirvart’s children’s songs, I imagined her fingers moving in the air between the silent melodies. I dreamed of playing her songs with the children in Armenia so we ( three more musicians from İzmir) applied to Hrant Dink Travel Grant to realise this project.

With the support of the Hrant Dink Foundation we went to Armenia on 31st of August and stayed till 15th of September. During our ten days in Yerevan we played in several parks. On our first day we met a great musician Manuk Harutyunyan. He played Armenian Folk music and we showed musics from the Western Armenian composers. Among our other contacts one of them was visiting Spendiaryan school and playing two of Sirvart’s songs with the children and youth chorus. We talked with Lilit who is a choir conductor in the school and she told us about the music education in Armenia.

After ten days in Yerevan we went to Gyumri to Music College after Kara Murza. We had four days workshops with the children  and prepared three of Sirvart’s songs and a Gomidas song with the choir.

It was a lovely experience working with children in Gyumri. We shared our songs with them and learned so many melodies. The music education in Armenia is very serious and  being musician or not everybody plays an instrument or sings. The children learns music before coming to school, from their neighbourhood, families and from life which is involved to music completely.

We had a small presentation with the children at the end of these four days and we made too many friends. Also a Tv channel from Gyumri filmed and made an interview about the project. Meanwhile there are too many negative things happening in Turkey about Armenian culture, we had the happiness to do and show something different that we admire so much this culture and people.


I really appreciate of having the opportunity to visit Armenia and search about Armenian music culture. The beautiful melodies of Gomitas touches me and whispers that I still have too many things to learn and play in this country. Maybe this time I can get the chance of staying more time 😉




Brazilian/Turkey Working with Children

I went to Brazil in 2004 and stayed till 2014. It was a long stay full of music and learning. In Brazil I have traveled for many years and made music with children in many parts of the country. While I was learning choro ( a kind of Traditional Brazilian music), played longas (Turkish music) and participated to many workshops. These music studies enlarged my music concept and helped me to develop. Belong these workshops some of them are:

  • Portable Choro School (Escola Portátil de Choro)  Rio de Janeiro/Brazil – 2009
  • Itibere Family Orquestra Workshop (Oficina do Itiberê Orquestra Família) Rio de Janeiro/Brazil – 2009
  • Conga Block Workshop (Oficina de Bloco de Congas)Rio de Janeiro/Brazil – 2009
  • Improvization and Practice Ensemble Workshop of Bernardo Ramos (Oficina de Improvisação e Pratica Conjunto com Bernardo Ramos) Rio de Janeiro/Brazil – 2010/2012
  • Voxplorations Workshop, Vocal Improvization with Clarice Assad (Oficina do Voxplorations, Improvisação vocal com Clarice Assad) Rio de Janeiro/Brazil – 2012
  • Boitata Block of Carnaval Workshop (Oficina do Boitatá, Bloco de Carnaval) Rio de Janeiro/Brazil – 2012
  • Popular Music Panels of Funarte (Painéis Funarte de Música Popular) Rio de Janeiro/Brazil –2012

I also worked as an English teacher at Jardim Escola Michaelis, a Waldorf school and Kindergarten in the southern part of Rio de Janeiro, for two years (2012-2014). It was a lovely experience through which I have learned alternative techniques of teaching, creating a lesson and playing with children. In my lessons I told children stories from Anatolia and played Turkish folk music for my students.

After I moved from Brazil to Turkey, I worked as a teacher at the first alternative school of Turkey: BBOM, Mutlu Keçi / Happy Goat – Another School is Possible in Bodrum (2014-2015). At BBOM I taught English, Spanish and Music. I have studied pedagogues like Reggio Emilia, Montessori, Free and Democratic schools, and I had a chance to apply these studies to my work with the children.

Chidren’s Music Workshops

2015- Seferihisar/İzmir
Şubadap Kids Band marching in Izmir on the Children’s Rights day. 2015 /Seferihisar-İzmir
2015 Kadifekale-İzmir

Children’s Music Workshop in Kadifekale, in collaboration with Halkların Köprüsü Derneği (Bridging People—Association based in Izmir working for refugee rights).



Şubadap Kids Band playing for Syrian children in Izmir.


Children music workshop with Basmane children.

We played for and realized a music workshop with Kurdish children living in the Sur area in Diyarbakir.


Concert for Children in Lübeck, Germany. Şubadap Kids’ Band.
2016 Hamburg/Germany
Making music with the children living in an Immigration Camp in Hamburg.

When Zarok TV,  Kurdish channel for children, was banned, we played to support the channel:


Playing together with children and preparing them for a children’s concert:

MultiLingual Children Music Studies with Syrian and Kurdish Children

The Multilingual Children’s Chorus was made up of children living in Izmir speaking three different languages: Arabic, Kurdish and Turkish. During the three months long workshop we worked with Syrian, Kurdish and Turkish children who live in the neighborhood Basmane, which is home to many immigrants: Syrian refugees, Kurdish and Turkish children. The children who live in Basmane don’t have any opportunity to have a good education or to participate in art activities. There are problems such as violence and racism that emerge among immigrant children. We translated our songs to Arabic and Kurdish, and the children started to learn each others’ language. At the beginning it was very tough because they found it hard and boring but later they started to sympathize with each other and the others’languages.

Kapılar flüt dersi
We started teaching music lessons to kids. Above is our friend Rudi, who came from Syria three years ago with her family, participated in our workshops and then started to teach flute lessons to other children from the neighborhood.

We collected music instruments from people who owned but were not using them. We fixed some broken instruments and made them available to the children who participated in our workshops. We tried to teach the kids to take responsibility for their instruemnts, and to share them.

Our music studies have been realized in the independent space Kapılar in Basmane. Kapılar is an initiative that works with refugees in Izmir.

Kapılar-çeviri çalışması

We worked with Syrian translators, volunteers who helped us to translate Turkish children songs’ lyrics to Arabic.

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