Piano melodies to echo at historic Armenian church

Vercihan Ziflioğlu
vercihan.ziflioglu@hurriyet.com.tr
ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
7/9/2012

Some 97 years after being closed, the historical Surp (Holy) Giragos Armenian Church in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır was reopened to worship last October. Now, the church will host a piano recital.

After also working hard in the restoration of the church himself, the Istanbul-born Canadian pianist Raffi Bedrosyan will perform in the concert. In an e-mail interview, Bedrosyan told the Hürriyet Daily News that the concert was “more significant to me than all my previous concerts in north America.”
“With this concert I want to show that this restored church is not only a silent monument, but an active, living center bringing people together for a peaceful future,” said Bedrosyan.

“Besides, the church will become a future religious and cultural center attracting Armenian pilgrims and tourists, enhancing dialogue between Armenians and people of Turkey.”

He said he was in continuous contact with quite a few liberal-minded people in Turkey, who share the same goal of a more democratized government, unafraid of facing past injustices.

First concert since 1915

“I am optimistic that the number of these people is increasing daily. I believe we need to increase opportunities for dialogue, cultural and academic interactions between Armenians and people of Turkey, especially for young people, so that the widespread discrimination and intolerance toward Armenians will be diminished in Turkey,” Bedrosyan said. “I am so excited for this concert.” “It will be the first concert by an Armenian since 1915. The Turkish word ‘çalmak’ has two meanings, ‘to steal,’ or ‘to play a musical instrument,” he added. “The first meaning of the word took place in this church in 1915, when Diyarbakır Governor Reşit, after massacring the entire Diyarbakir Armenian population, brought all the stolen valuable Armenian possessions to Surp Giragos Church, including several pianos.

Now 97 years later, I wish to implement the second meaning of the word, by giving this concert in the same church.”

During the concert Bedrosyan will play pieces from both Armenian and Western classical composers. Among the guests at the concert, there will be a group of 70 Armenians from the Diaspora, led by Archishop Khajag Barsamian of the Eastern Diocese of the United States. Before the concert, the group will first take part in Van Akhtamar Island’s Surp Khac Church-Museum divine liturgy. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu is also expected to attend the concert. The concert will take place on Sept. 10 and will be open to public.

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