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.
AKH TAMAR Opera:
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 😉