Posts Tagged ‘Komitas’

Michael Church, in The Guardian:

“For Armenians, music is memory. And whenever they gather to honour their dead, the songs they sing are by the composer who speaks for the soul of their nation, Komitas Vardapet. He himself was a victim of the 1915 persecution, and though he survived physically, he was driven into madness by it. Outside Armenia he, too, has been swept under the carpet of history.”

Komitas’s output was modest: 80 choral works and songs, arrangements of the Armenian mass, and some dances for piano. But as his better-known compatriot Aram Khachaturian acknowledged, he singlehandedly laid the foundations for Armenia’s classical tradition. And as a collector and arranger of folksongs, he did for Armenia what Bartók did for Hungary, turning simple material into bewitchingly sophisticated polyphony. After a Komitas concert in Paris, Claude Debussy declared that on the basis of a single song, he deserved to be recognised as a great composer. Yet many classical musicians barely recognise his name.”

Read Full Post »

Yerevan, Armenia countdown:   1 week, 3 days.    Yes, I’m moving to Armenia with my family. We were offered a job there, and felt a strange connection to the place. For years, my wife Rachel and I have been volunteering at the Manitoba Chamber orchestra as ushers. We were always invited to the after-concert parties, so we met quite a few world-class musicians, including violinist James Ehnes, and the incredible Armenian/Canadian soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian.

Dle Yaman is a classic song about longing and separation, written after the genocide by Armenian composer Komitas. While teaching about emotions in AP Psych, I used this song to illustrate the emotion of huzun, or melancholy, which I had read about in Orham Pamuk’s Istanbul.  Spiritual sorrow, wanting to be close to God but being unable to, emptiness with the hope of fulfillment, a licence to introspect:


Yerevan, Armenia, with Mt. Ararat in the background.

Դլե յաման
Գյամին էկավ կրակի պես,
Վա՜յ, դլե յաման,
Էկավ, հասավ չուր ծովու կես,
Յաման, յաման:

Դլե յաման,
Մեր տուն, ձեր տուն իրար դիմաց,
Վա՜յ, դլե յաման,
Հերիք անես աչքով իմաց (originally it is Մենք սիրեցինք առանց իմաց, menk siretsink arants imats)
Յաման, յաման:

Դլե յաման,
Արև դիպավ Մասիս սարին,
Վա՜յ, դլե յաման,
Կարոտ մնացի ես իմ յարին,
Յաման, յաման:


Dle yaman, the wind blew like fire
vay dle yaman, blew to the half of the see
yaman, yaman…

Dle yaman, your ad my houses are in front of each other
Vay dle yaman, Don’t wink any more (originally it is “menk siretsink arants imats”, “we loved each outher without knowing”)

Dle yaman, the Sun touched the mount. Masis,
Vay dle yaman, I miss my lover,
Yaman, yaman
It seems fitting that she sings ” Evenstar” on the LOTR soundtrack:


Leaving Winnipeg, and leaving the programs I love at Grant Park is painful. Time to reflect on the highs and lows of my first couple years teaching, and look forward to a new challenge overseas. While scrolling through 3QD today I found this gem of a quote, spoken by Kennedy after the assassination of MLK Jr. He quotes Aeschylus’ Agamemnon:

Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
Falls drop by drop upon the heart,
Until, in our own despair, against our will,
Comes wisdom through the awful grace of God

The experience of leaving a job I love is like a break-up producing a full spectrum of emotion. It’s simply confusing to be leaving people you love after spending so much time applying overseas and planning to leave. Through the confusion comes a profound thankfulness at simply being, and being where I have been, and where I am going.


Read Full Post »