Monday, 30 June 2008

FATHER FRANK’S RANTS - 309 - Sir Salman

Rant Number 309 29 March 2008

Sir Salman

When King James the First knighted the swashbuckling Sir Kenelm Digby he was so nervous that he would have thrust the sword’s point into the new knight’s eye, had not the Duke of Buckingham interposed.

I wonder whether the Sovereign may not have been just a little bit diffident last week when she dubbed writer Salman Rushdie, saying ‘Arise, Sir Salman’. She can hardly be a fan. But it is Her Majesty’s job and she is most gracious to take the rough with smooth.

The priest has met Rushdie in the flesh only once. Four years ago, near Hammersmith. Lucky for him I did not carry a blade – I might have been tempted to earn a large sum of money from that old fatwa...aargh! Worry not folks. Only a bad taste joke. Holy Orders forbid a priest to shed human blood - except of course his own, in martyrdom, for the sake of Christ. Salman was never in physical danger from me. Although, in hindsight, I would have rather enjoyed telling him how much his books bore me.

‘Services to literature’. The ostensible reason for knighting Rushdie. Was there a hidden agenda? An intended slight to Islam? Certainly it is difficult to imagine any pious followers of the Prophet rejoicing over the event. Only a fly on Downing Street’s wall would be privy to the PM’s real reasons for this bizarre award. Bet British Muslims are probably far more concerned about the grave decision to extend detention without charge to 42 days than about flogging a dead horse. Yet symbols matter. If it was worth stripping that distinguished statesman, Bobby Mugabe, of his knighthood, the honouring of Sir Salman must mean something, too. What could that be?

Three years ago our Salman wrote in The Times that Islam needs a ‘new Reformation’. (Note, pray, the capital ‘R’.) One that would bring Muslims ‘into the modern era’. No doubt that line won him many friends in Downing St and amongst the cultured despisers of religion, aka the voluble chatterati of Mayfair and Manhattan. Well, if Sir Salman is going to play Martin Luther, and cause comparable upheavals in Dar al-Islam, his utterances deserve a little scrutiny.

‘Reformation’ in English is synonymous with Protestantism. A strand of Christianity that rejects church tradition and authority in matters of faith, while insisting on the supremacy of the Bible. Indeed, giant Prots like Luther and Calvin were adamant about biblical inerrancy. And not all that keen on religious tolerance. John Calvin at Geneva set up a theocracy and had theologian Michael Servetus burnt at the stake as a heretic. Calvin would interrogate even his barber as to his theological views. Luther, for his part, did not speak kindly about the Jews. Later on, Protestantism spawned countless odd sects, from Jehovah’s Witnesses to Seventh-Day Adventists. Some even dissolved into atheism. Today the protestant scene is hardly uniform. From wishy-washy evangelicals to hard-line traditionalists and to so-called Christian Zionists (la samaha Allah!). Muslims may well discover a lot in common with conservative evangelicals. On matters like abortion and personal morality, for example. Surely no believer who reveres his Qur’an should object to a Christian who reads and values and follows his Bible. Such as the faithful Anglicans who just gathered at Jerusalem, to affirm their loyalty to Scripture and the Prayer Book. Conversely, I know many Muslims who despise the manner in which some ever-so-liberal churches have forsaken the faith of their fathers. I only doubt that was what Sir Salman had in mind when he advocated a reformation in Islam…

The Qur’an. Ah, yes, the Qur’an. Rushdie wrote of situating al-Kitab within history, not beyond it. Maybe that’s a brave thing to say for a Muslim. Who am I, a poor Christian, to rush in where angels fear to tread? But a sceptic might observe that no amount of brute historical facts could ever logically warrant the conclusion that a book is literally God’s speech. Nor indeed – here I speak as a Christian – that a particular human being is literally the Son of God. Factual truths and divine truths aren’t the same - they belong to distinct universes of discourse. Anyway, if Salman knows anything about his religion, he will know that Islamic law and doctrine do not rest on the Qur’an alone but also on the ahadith, the Prophet’s sayings. And surprise-surprise, there is already a sort of historical-critical science of the ahadith. Turkish Muslims are about to dig deeper into that. Hope that pleases our knight in not-so-shining armour.

The Qur’an should be read ‘as a plea for the old matriarchal values in the new patriarchal world’. Thus spoke Rushdie-Zarathustra. That made me grin a huge grin. As a ploy to win favour with the ladies it is a little too brazen. But that shows up the trick. Sir Salman speaks for very few Muslims, if any. Instead, he speaks for the West, where matriarchy is already a reality. Muslim women however are a bit more discerning. I daresay they are proud of their religion. So they wear the hijab voluntarily. Chattels they are not. Far from it. They are real women. If I had talked of matriarchy to the dignified women of Doha, in the Arab Gulf, when I lived there, I would have made them laugh. Those fine ladies no more give a hoot about matriarchy than they do about patriarchy. Only westernised obsessive ideologues care about such clichés. Most Muslim women, I submit, do not. Why should they? They can be the real thing, the real McCoy: mothers.

There is a joke about a bloke who announced he was going to found a new religion. ‘Good’, a wag told him, ‘now all you have to do is to get yourself crucified and rise again after three days and your religion will be up and running.’ To expect Sir Salman to perform something like that would be unreasonable. But what if his ‘reformed’ Islam looked so different from the Islam of the faithful to be tantamount to another, new religion? Would he then have the pluck to suffer martyrdom for its sake? To make it flourish?

I just don’t believe it.

Unless of course the knight proves me wrong.

Revd Frank Julian Gelli


Sunday, 29 June 2008

Developments in Armenia's relations with its neighbours

Sarkisian Signals Support For Turkish Genocide Proposal
By Emil Danielyan

Signaling a policy shift, President Serzh Sarkisian confirmed Thursday
that he is ready to accept, in principle, Turkey's proposal to form a
commission of Armenian and Turkish historians that would examine the
1915 mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire.

But he made clear through a spokesman that such a commission should be
created only after Turkey agrees to unconditionally establish diplomatic
relations and open its border with Armenia.

The proposal was formally made by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip
Erdogan in a 2005 letter to then Armenian President Robert Kocharian.
Erdogan suggested that the would-be commission determine whether the
Armenian massacres constituted genocide and said his government would
accept any conclusion reached by it.

In a written reply, Kocharian effectively rejected the idea and came up
with a counterproposal to set up a Turkish-Armenian intergovernmental
commission that would deal with this and other issues of mutual concern.
Other Armenian officials, backed by local and Diaspora scholars,
dismissed Erdogan's move as a Turkish ploy designed to scuttle
international recognition of the Armenian genocide. They also said that
by agreeing to the proposed study the Armenian side would question the
very fact of the genocide.

`We are not against the creation of such a commission, but only if the
border between our countries is opened,' Sarkisian declared during a
visit to Moscow earlier this week.

Sarkisian's press secretary, Samvel Farmanian, reaffirmed this in a
statement issued on Thursday. `We are not against any study of even
obvious facts and widely accepted realities,' he said. `Agreeing to a
study does not mean casting doubt on the veracity of facts.

`However, the creation of such a commission would be logical only after
the establishment of diplomatic relations and the opening of the border
between our countries. Otherwise, it could become a tool for dragging
out and exploiting the existing problems.'

Farmanian's statement came amid an uproar from the country's main
opposition alliance led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian. In a
statement on Wednesday, Ter-Petrosian's Popular Movement condemned
Sarkisian's `dangerous' remarks, saying that the new Armenian leader has
agreed to a proposal `calling into question the fact of the Genocide.'

Farmanian rejected the opposition claims. `It is strange that the
genocide issue is being exploited by individuals who had done everything
in the past to condemn that tragic page of our history to oblivion,' he
said in a jibe at Ter-Petrosian's more conciliatory line on Turkey.


Today's Zaman
June 26 2008

Serzh Sarkisian, the president of Turkey's estranged neighbor,
Armenia, has said he plans to invite Turkish President Abdullah Gul
to Yerevan to watch a soccer match together between the two countries'
national teams.

"I intend to take new steps toward establishing relations with
Turkey. I will probably invite Turkish President Gul to Yerevan
to attend a soccer match between the Armenian and Turkish national
teams," Sarkisian, who was sworn into office in April, was quoted as
saying by Armenian media earlier this week at a meeting with members
of Moscow's Armenian community.

In November, Turkey was pitted against Spain, Belgium, Bosnia, Armenia
and Estonia in group five of the European qualifying competition
for the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa. Armenian media said
that the Armenian and Turkish national teams would play a match in
September in Yerevan.

While there was no official response to reports on Sarkisian's remarks
in Ankara, a senior US diplomat has welcomed them in Washington.

"It's an amazing development. Both leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan
seem to be pragmatic, practical and ready to explore each sides needs
when it comes to a Nagorno-Karabakh settlement," Matt Bryza, deputy
assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, told
reporters. Armenia's position on the establishment of relations with
Turkey is exact, and there can be a closed border between neighbor
states in the 21st century, Sarkisian also said.


Genocide Recognition `Still On Armenia Foreign Policy Agenda'
By Ruben Meloyan

Armenia will continue to seek international recognition of the 1915
Armenian genocide despite its readiness to agree to the creation of a
Turkish-Armenian commission of historians that would study the highly
sensitive subject, Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian said on Friday.

The idea of setting up such a commission was floated by Turkey's Prime
Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a 2005 letter to then Armenian
President Robert Kocharian. Erdogan said its members should jointly
determine whether the mass killings and deportations of Armenians in the
Ottoman Empire constituted a genocide.

Kocharian effectively rejected the idea by making a counterproposal to
set up a Turkish-Armenian intergovernmental body that would deal with
this and other issues of mutual concern.

In an apparent policy change, his successor, Serzh Sarkisian, indicated
this week that Yerevan is now `not against' the Turkish proposal. But he
made clear that the commission of historians can be set up only if
Turkey agrees to unconditionally normalize relations with Armenia.

In Nalbandian's words, this does not mean that Armenia will no longer
encourage and endorse efforts by the worldwide Armenian Diaspora to have
foreign governments and parliaments recognize the slaughter of more than
one million Ottoman Armenians as genocide. `The genocide issue remains
on our agenda,' he said.

Turkey has cited Yerevan's support for the genocide recognition campaign
as one of the reasons why it keeps its border with Armenia closed and
refuses to establish diplomatic relations with the latter. Ankara
maintains that the 1915-1918 mass killings occurred on a much smaller
scale and were not part of a premeditated government effort to
exterminate the Ottoman Empire's Armenian minority.

`Armenia has repeatedly stated and continues to state that we are ready
to establish relations with Turkey without any preconditions,' said
Nalbandian. `We are also ready to discuss all issues of interest to the
two countries after the establishment of diplomatic relations and
opening of the border.'

Nalbandian spoke at a joint news conference with Switzerland's visiting
Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey. Switzerland is one of nearly two
dozen nations that have officially recognized the Armenian massacres as

The Swiss federal parliament adopted a relevant resolution in December
2003, two months after the Turkish government angrily called off
Calmy-Rey's planned visit to Ankara in protest against a similar
document passed by the Swiss canton of Vaud. The visit eventually took
place in March 2005, with Calmy-Rey publicly urging Turkey to `conduct
an in-depth historical research of its own past, especially when the
question is so painful.'

The Swiss minister said on Friday that her country stands ready to
mediate a Turkish-Armenian rapprochement. `Switzerland is always ready
to play the role of a facilitator if it is asked to by the parties,' she said.


2008-06-26 11:30:00

The Armenian National Movement, headed by the first President of
Armenia Levon Ter-Petrosyan, spread a statement today expressing
bewilderment in view of the statements of RA President Serzh Sargsyan
made in Moscow on June 23 concerning the Armenian-Turkish relations.

To recall, RA President Serzh Sargsyan said on June 23 at the meeting
with representatives of the Armenian community of Moscow that he
is going to invite his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul to the
football match in Yerevan. S. Sargsyan emphasized unambiguousness
of Armenia's position according to which "there should be no closed
borders between the neighbouring countries in 21 Century". However,
having recalled that the Turkish party offers to form a commission to
study the historical facts, RA president said that Yerevan does not
object to creation of such a commission "but after the borders between
our states are open, otherwise, it may become a way of speculation
by this problem".

The Armenian National Movement's statement, received by ArmInfo today,
says that S. Sargsyan has become the first president of Armenia who
officially agreed to Turkey's proposal to question the fact of the
Genocide. We condemn this dangerous statement of S. Sargsyan which will
be undoubtedly responded by the people of Armenia and the Armenians
of the whole world>, the statement says.


Afet Mehtiyeva
June 26 2008

BAKU, June 26 (Reuters) - Ex-Soviet Azerbaijan staged its first
military parade in 16 years on Thursday in a show of strength
aimed partly at Armenia, its neighbour with which it is locked in a
territorial dispute.

Armenian forces took control of the Nagorno-Karabakh region,
internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, in a war in the
1990s. Azerbaijan says it reserves the right to restore its control
by force if peace talks fail.

A resumption of hostilities could disrupt oil supplies from Azerbaijan,
which exports about 700,000 barrels of oil a day to world markets,
most of it via a pipeline operated by a BP-led (BP.L: Quote, Profile,
Research, Stock Buzz) international consortium.

Troops, multiple rocket launch systems, armoured personnel carriers,
tanks and unmanned reconnaissance planes were paraded in front of
the Soviet-built government headquarters in the capital Baku, watched
over by President Ilham Aliyev.

Attack helicopters, bombers and fighter jets later flew in formation
past the building on the shores of the Caspian Sea, in a parade that
lasted over an hour.

Much of the equipment on show was Soviet-designed but there was also
Western gear and troops were fitted out in NATO-style uniforms --
part of a modernisation of the armed forces funded with a ten-fold
rise in defence spending since 2003.

"The international community is worried by our policy in this area
and places the emphasis on this," Aliyev, who succeeded his father
as president in a 2003 election, said in a speech at the parade.

"But Azerbaijan continues to live in a state of war and is trying to
resolve the Karabakh issue," he said. "We are continuing negotiations
with Armenia, but they have been going on for a very long time and
the people are tired of them. They cannot go on for ever."

The war over Nagorno-Karabakh killed about 35,000 people and forced
over a million to leave their homes. Many of them are still living
as refugees.

The region, and several Azeri districts around it, are now run by
ethnic Armenian separatists with support from Armenia. No state
recognises Nagorno-Karabakh's split from Azerbaijan.

Though a fragile ceasefire is in force, the two sides have never signed
a peace deal to formally end the war, and their armies are locked in
a tense stand-off. Soldiers are frequently killed in skirmishes.

Talks mediated by envoys from France, Russia and the United States
have failed to produce a peace agreement.

Aliyev said at the parade Azerbaijan's annual defence spending was
now $2 billion. He said the increase was in line with an overall
growth in state spending in Azerbaijan, which has one of the world's
fastest-growing economies.

Zardusht Alizade, a political analyst with ties to Azerbaijan's
opposition, said the government's threats to use force against Armenian
forces were not credible.

"The authorities have no intention of liberating Nagorno-Karabakh,"
he told Reuters. "If they had, their current internal and domestic
policies would be different."


Armenian News

Armenian Diaspora Minister Named
By Emil Danielyan

President Serzh Sarkisian on Friday appointed a veteran pro-government
parliamentarian to manage a newly established government ministry in
charge of Armenia's relations with its worldwide Diaspora.

Those relations have until now been coordinated by an Armenian Foreign
Ministry department. The government decided to turn it into a separate
and larger agency earlier this month. The move had been widely
anticipated since Sarkisian's victory in the February 19 presidential

The new minister of Diaspora affairs, Hranush Hakobian, is one the
longest-serving Armenian lawmakers and a member of the governing
Republican Party of Armenia (HHK). She has been close to the highest
echelons of power in Yerevan since becoming the leader of the Armenian
branch of the Soviet Union's Communist Youth League in the mid-1980s.

Hakobian, 54, was elected to Armenia's first post-Communist parliament
in 1990 and, barring a two-year stint as social security minister in the
administration of former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, has held a
parliament seat since then. She chaired the National Assembly's
committee on science, education and culture before her latest

Hakobian will be the second female member of Prime Minister Tigran
Sarkisian's cabinet.

Today's Zaman
June 26 2008

US Senator Barbara Boxer has secured a one-month delay in procedure
for confirmation by the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee of the
administration's nominee for US ambassador to Armenia, Armenian media
reports say.

Boxer, a Democrat, secured the delay in response to the State
Department's delay in providing timely written responses to the
eight sets of written questions submitted to career diplomat Marie
Yovanovitch, current ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic, by members of
the panel, influential Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA)
Communications Director Elizabeth S. Chouldjian said, PanARMENIAN.Net
reported yesterday. Last week, during her confirmation hearing before
the Foreign Relations Committee, Yovanovitch responded to a salvo of
questions posed by Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, who blocked
the Bush administration's previous nominee over his refusal to call
killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in the last century
"genocide," in line with the US administration's policy.

Nevertheless, Yovanovitch rejected use of the term "genocide" to
describe the early 20th century deaths of Ottoman Armenians out of
political considerations, saying that using the term would contradict
the US administration's policy on the issue.

Boxer released a written statement in which she criticized US policy
on the Armenian issue, especially taking into consideration the
fact that the administration has called killings in Darfur genocide,
but refused to do so in the Armenian case.

Noyan Tapan
June 23, 2008

YEREVAN, JUNE 23, NOYAN TAPAN. The Migration Agency of the RA Ministry
of Territorial Administration has created a new Internet system with
the address. Its goal is to provide information to
RA citizens living abroad on issues they are concerned with. As Gagik
Yeganian, the Head of the Agency, said at the June 20 press conference,
people can apply to the system with issues of RA citizenship, loss
of documents, their return, compulsory military service in RA, and
other issues. Besides, according to him, system's special online
regime gives a possibility to conduct an interview between a citizen
and a competent employee of country's proper state body.

G. Yeganian said that 900 thousand - 1m RA citizens have emigrated from
Armenia since 1992. Nearly 70% of them have left for CIS countries,
including nearly 65% to RF.


An unprecedented harvest of apricots is expected in Armenia this
year. NT correspondent was informed by Garnik Petrosan - the head of
the plant cultivation department of the RA ministry of agriculture
that by preliminary estimates that it is expected to gather about 100
thousand tons of apricots this year. Besides, a heavy fruit harvest
is expected.

G. Petrosian said that by official data, 3,300 tons of apricots
have already been exported from Armenia. Small consignments of
apricots are exported by individuals, and this amount is impossible
to calculate. The purchase price of apricots for export makes 200-300
drams (about 1 dollar) for a kilogram.


Saturday, 28 June 2008


This year marks the 105th anniversary of birth
and the 30th year of the passing away of
the world famous Armenian composer


Five years ago, UNESCO had declared 2003 as the year of Aram Khathcaturian.

On that occasion, Khatchatur I. Pilikian had written an article dedicated to the great Armenian composer. We think that you will find the reading of the article a rewarding experience. For that reason we are, herewith, re-circulating K.I. Pilikian's article.

Please note: Blogger was not able to upload the images of ARAM KHATCHATURIAN

for this article.


Aram Khatchaturian was 60 years old when in 1963 the International Committee for Peace celebrated the 250th anniversary of birth of Ashugh Sayat Nova (1713-1795), the Armenian minstrel who had excelled in composing verses in three languages with equal mastery, hence claimed by the peoples of Transcaucasia, Armenians, Georgians and Azeris, each as their own national Ashugh (= minstrel). Sayat Nova’s philosophy of life and love, his songs and poetry, his fame as a virtuoso kemanchist (Near Eastern fiddle) coupled with the legend about his beautiful singing voice; all had become the subconscious leitmotiv of Khatchaturian’s creative output. Apparently maestro Khatchaturian, the “Peoples Artist of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics”, had an obsession to write an opera about Sayat Nova. Alas, he never composed an opera.

Mahdesi (= pilgrim of Jerusalem) Karapet’s son Harutiun, renowned as Sayat Nova, was born in Tbilisi. So was the bookbinder Yeghia (Illich in Russian) Khatchaturian’s son Aram, the youngest of four brothers, who later recalled affectionately:

Text Box: Drawing by K I Pilikian. Maestro Khatchaturian rehearsing the Santa Cecilia Philharmonic Orchestra in Rome, on 6/4/1963I loved singing and accompanying myself since childhood by playing percussive instruments, the latter available for me only in the form of household buckets or tea-pots. As for my songs, they were invariably folk songs I had heard from elderly people. During family reunions and feasts my mother [Ghumash = smooth-silk cloth] danced oriental folk dances. Her movements were gentle, beautiful and with legato. She also sang very pleasantly. I loved watching her dance. I admired her. [Aram’s opus no.1 of 1925 titled The Song of the Wondering Ashugh was dedicated to her]. Folk music was all around me in Tbilisi. Songs, dances and instrumental music (Tar, Kamancha, and Dahira) performed here and there and at all occasions. [Tar, Caucasian long-necked lute; Kamancha, Near Eastern fiddle, held and played vertically on the player’s knee; Dahira or Da’ira, Pers.Arab. = Circle, a small Tambourine]. My father too was well versed in Armenian folk tunes which he sang and accompanied himself on the Tar.

The first professional music I ever heard was a symphonic concert performed in a park, conducted by Tcherebnin (the Elder). I was then 12 years old. I remember vividly how I once rushed to the Tbilisi Opera Theatre to hear Absalom and Etheri. [Music by the Georgian composer Z.Paliashvili, himself a student of S. Taneyev who taught, among others, Rachmaninov, Schriabin, and R.Glier. In mid 1920’s, Glier became Khatchatrian’s first teacher of Instrumentation]. The orchestral sound, the songs performed on the stage and the whole scenery, all made a powerful impression on me. I was in my early teens. Then at fifteen I joined my school’s [Tbilisi Commercial College (1913-1920)] wind band [playing the Tuba]. There I soon started improvising and composing aurally waltzes and school marches for various combinations of wind instruments. But the notes of my compositions were jotted down by others. Meanwhile I taught myself somehow to play the piano [and compose music for the piano] on an old and broken instrument we happened to have then at home.

When my brother Suren came to engage young actors, painters and musicians for the Moscow Armenian State Dramatic Studio of which he was the director, I also joined them and found myself in Moscow in 1921. I was eighteen. A year later, and encouraged by Ashkhen Mamikonian, one of the tutors of the said Studio, I enrolled at the Gnessin Music Technical School. In view of my advanced age I was advised to study the cello [with tutors Bichkov and Borisyak]. Noticing the fast progress I made in my cello studies, my harmony teacher Mikhail Gnessin took me under his tutelage and secured for me a place in his composition class.

Composing music enthralled me so much that I abandoned my studies at the Moscow State University [studying biology during 1922-1925]. This year [1928/9] I shall be graduating from the Gnessin School, having also completed the course of composition (Fugue) with M.F.Gnessin, and instrumentation with R.M.Glier.

While at Gnessin School, Khatchaturian composed incidental music for the production of plays at the Armenian Drama Studio mentioned above. Nevertheless he was refused membership of the Composers Union and a salary, due to the fact that he had not yet had a concert performance of his own music proven by a printed programme.

Soon after graduation from Gnessin School, Khatchaturian studied at Moscow Conservatory (1929-1934). Post graduate work followed for another two years. The distinguished panel of tutors he worked with included Myaskovsky and Gnessin (composition), G. Konyus (harmony) and Vasilenko (orchestration).

While still a graduate student, the all influential Composers Union of the USSR accepted Aram Khachaturian’s membership in 1932. It was the year he composed his famous Toccata (part one of a Piano Suite), and the Trio for Clarinet, Violin and Piano. On Prokofiev’s recommendation the latter Trio was performed and published in Paris. The event made Khatchaturian feel he was “in seventh heaven”.

That same year (1932) a string Quartet founded in 1924/5 by four brilliant instrumentalists (Gabrielian, Ohanjanian, Terzian and Aslamazian) was named after Komitas (1869-1935), the composer Vardapet (=reverend, priest), choral conductor, ethnographer and founder of scientific Armenian musicology. Komitas Vardapet was tutored in Tbilisi in 1895 by the composer Makar Yekmalian (himself once, like Khatchaturian’s own tutor Gnessin, a student of Rimsky Korsakov). If Khatchaturian’s creative subconscious was pulsated by Sayat Nova’s minstrel art, the music and musico-pedagogical precepts of Komitas illuminated Khatchaturian’s conscious mind. At the age of sixty four, Varpet (=maestro, guru) Aram stated:

If the contemporary Armenian composers wish, and they must wish to contribute towards the being and becoming of the Armenian music and its musical idiom, they ought to know Komitas inside out. (In a personal letter, dated 14th Oct 1967, Moscow, sent to London, addressed to K.I.Pilikian.)

Gnessin himself had met Komitas personally in Constantinople, in 1914. He had asked Komitas to shed light on the probable correlation between Jewish and Armenian melodies. Gnessin reported: “I felt the seriousness of Komitas’ scientific focus. When I heard his music later, I realised the enormity of his talent and what a great musician he was...Indeed what an interesting and original musical pedagogue he should have been”. (Little did anyone expect that Komitas would literally lose his mind in 1915, having witnessed and survived a tragedy that shook the foundations of humanity—the first genocide of the 20th century, when the proto Nazi government of the Young Turks executed a plan of total terror and annihilation against the Armenian people. Komitas died in a mental hospital in Paris, in 1935.)

In 1933, Khatchaturian composed an orchestral Dance Suite as if foreshadowing his great ballet compositions Gayane of 39/40’s and Spartacus of 50’s. The said Dance Suite was based on themes from Armenian, Georgian, Azeri and Uzbek musical idioms. That same year of 1933, Khatchaturian married his classmate sweetheart from the Moscow Conservatory, the composer Nina Makarova (1908-1976). A year later, Khatchaturian composed his diploma work, his Symphony no.1, which earned him a gold medal upon graduation. D. Shostakovich felt that Khatchaturian’s first symphony “is inebriated with life’s beauty and delight”. Two years later, Khatchaturian came to a much wider notice than ever before, with his Piano Concerto (1936). “Khatchaturian has succeeded in coupling the wealth of virtuosity with profundity of content”, declared Shostakovich. After a happy sojourn in Armenia in 1939, Aram’s and Nina’s first and only son Garen was born in 1940, the year of Khatchaturian’s exhilarating Violin Concerto— imbued in a masterly fashion with Armenian musical phraseology nurtured by Komitas Vardapet. Its first performer, the legendary David Oistrakh reported: “It is modern music in the truest meaning of the word”. In New York its impression was exhilarating (cited by G.Schnährson): “If it were possible to forge light, pure light, with all its brilliance into sound, then Khatchaturian has achieved precisely that in his masterpiece”.

As to Khatchaturian’s Symphony no.2, composed during the apocalyptic barbarities of World War 2, Dimitry Shostakovich, yet again, asserted: “Perhaps it is the first work where the tragic basis has achieved such heights. The marriage of the tragic with the life force acquires a great power here”.

Aram Khatchaturian was to lead the Composers Union for over 20 years, until his death in 1978. He had already served in its organising committee as the deputy chairman for nearly a decade (1939-1948). His dedication to the Composers Union was exemplary, tinged with some melancholy:

It taught me a lot. To me it was a second Conservatory. I was always in touch and working with such musicians as Glier, Myaskovsky, Prokofiev, Shebalin and frequently with Shostakovich, Dunayevsky and others. It was an excellent school for me ... Even though [he concluded wryly], it meant also that I had less time to compose...

Forgoing the mention of Khatchaturian’s biographical details, suffice it to say that the rest of his creative achievement is indeed first and foremost part of the world’s music literature, history and performance, all canoed in an ocean of political turmoil and the upheavals of Nazi invasion, the World War 2, hunger and personal tragedies, and above all heroic survival from Beria-Stalin diabolic terror tinted with idiotic Zhdanovian denunciations. The latter caused directly the nine years gap in Khatchaturian’s leadership of the Composers Union (1948-1957), which ironically served as a bonus to be creative, allowing him to compose, among others, his ballet masterpiece, Spartacus. He had begun composing it in 1949 when he felt exasperated:

My great faith in the future notwithstanding, presently I am in a foul mood. There are many and very evil people around us. I know not where to escape...

Escape he did. He did through the only way he knew best, and survived. He composed to recreate and cast on the world stage a dancing slave with a difference— His slave was Spartacus, a freedom fighter, once rightly acclaimed as “the noblest martyr-saint of the revolutionary calendar”.

The rewards of such a heroic survival were immense and substantial too. There were innumerable prizes, medals, titles and honorary doctorates, professorships, memberships to Academies, and most importantly, a large number of publications of Khatchaturian’s works, and decades of performances of his ballets, concertos and symphonies in repertory theatres, opera houses and concert halls, all over the world.

Khatchaturian's compositions are, so far, collected in 24 volumes (Moscow. 1982-91). His oeuvre embraces nearly the whole gamut of musical compositions including incidental music for stage plays, and numerous film scores. He was a pioneer of musical compositions for motion pictures with sound, not only in Armenia, (Pepo of 1935), but in the whole of the USSR As to Pepo’s popular song The Saddle in my Hands (lyrics by Yeghishe Tcharentz, the great Armenian revolutionary poet, victim of Beria’s henchmen in 1937), Khatchaturian acknowledged his debt, yet again, to Sayat Nova:

When I composed Pepo’s song, I always had Sayat Nova in mind.

Forty years after Pepo’s song, Khatchaturian composed his Sonata Monologue for Solo Violin (1975), creating a mosaic of musical phrases and rhythmic patterns of acrobatic bow movements, glowing with virtual improvisation, all based on the melodic and rhythmic structure of the Sayat Nova song If You’re Wise. (This famous melody in fact belonged to an earlier Armenian minstrel, by the name of Baghtasar Dbir, who had composed the lyrics and the music of his enchanting canticle Arise from Your Royal Slumber in 1707).

The eminent music critic Asafiev thought that “Khatchaturian is the Rubens of music of oriental tales”. Asafiev’s metaphor implies opulence, monumentality, colour and compositional panache. Perhaps “abundance” says it all. Khatchaturian’s music is abundant with melodies, rhythm, harmony, a mastery of technical construction in an aura of virtual improvisation, and, above all, abundant with vitality and vertiginous exuberance— the marrow of it all is surely the abundance of love. As to the raison d’être of his love and life in music, Aram Khatchaturian explained it loud and clear:

My passionate aim in music is to open up the Armenian music, with its melodic and rhythmic abundance, passing it through the prism of European musical art and technique, while distancing its reconstruction from the tonic-dominant nausea of static harmonies. We should render our music such that it becomes the possession of all people.

Aram Khatchaturian fulfilled his aim and accomplished his task with majestic passion. Five days after his death in Moscow on the 1st of May 1978, he was interred on the 6th of May in his beloved Armenia, in the Yerevan Pantheon of artists, musicians, writers and scientists.

And today, this year of 2003, UNESCO has declared it as the year of Aram Khatchaturian.

Text Box: “I like this. You’ve made me look like Beethoven!” Aram Khatchaturian during a press conference in Beirut, Lebanon, on 9/5/1961. Ball-point drawing by K I PilikianExactly as he wished, Khatchaturian’s music belongs today to all people, for generations to come. He is the world’s Armenian composer.

© 2003 Khatchatur I. Pilikian


Do you want more Armenian Americans in Congress?

David and Elena Krikorian with their children
Ariel, Armen, and Alex.

Donate to David Krikorian for Congress TODAY!

Dear All

Do you want more Armenian Americans elected to the U.S. Congress?

I sure do.

Right now we have two - Anna Eshoo and Jackie Kanchelian Speier. But we deserve more.

Wouldn't it also send a really powerful message if a few of the worst Armenian Genocide deniers got thrown off Capitol Hill this November?

Well, this year, we can kill two birds with one stone.

Turkish Americans raised over $10,000 for
genocide denier Jean Schmidt in February


By helping David Krikorian, a tremendously talented Armenian American businessman, unseat Congresswoman Jean Schmidt, a shameless genocide denier who has fought tooth and nail against our community's views and values from her very first day in Washington.

David is an incredibly devoted Armenian American, proud of his heritage and personally committed to ensuring that the voice of our community is heard and respected at the highest levels of the U.S. government. As the hard-working Chairman of ANC-Ohio he has been a strong and effective leader, both state-wide and nationally.

Armenian American family man and entrepreneur David Krikorian

David, a self-made entrepreneur and devoted family man involved in local civic affairs, has decided to run as an Independent to challenge Schmidt, a deeply flawed, highly unpopular, and polarizing figure in her southern Ohio district. We respect David's values and vision, know that he will be a strong addition to Congress, and want to do all we can to help him send Jean Schmidt packing.

Please join with me in donating financially to David's campaign. Large or small, every donation counts!

Whether you can send $23, $230, or the maximum of $2,300, your secure on-line donation will make a real difference.

With warmest regards,

Aram Hamparian
Executive Director

P.S. Electing strong and proud Armenian Americans like David Krikorian represents the cutting edge of the Armenian Cause. Please send your secure on-line donation today.


Boxer Secures Greater Transparency on Ambassadorial Nomination

June 24, 2008

CA Senator Barbara Boxer (D)

TOP STORY: Sen. Boxer Ensures Senate Panel Has Time to Review U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Nomination

Key Senate Panel Seeks Greater Accountability for Crimes Against Humanity

State Department Failed to Provide Written Responses to Senate Inquiries in a Timely Manner

U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Designate Marie YovanovitchWASHINGTON, DC – Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) today secured a one-month delay in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s consideration of the confirmation of U.S. Ambassador to Armenia nominee Marie Yovanovitch in response to the State Department’s delay in providing timely written responses to the eight sets of written questions submitted to her by members of the panel, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

“Senator Boxer not only provided Senators with the opportunity they would otherwise have been denied to meaningfully review the nominee’s responses, but also, very significantly, ensured that all Americans citizens – including Armenian Americans and those who share our commitment to ending the cycle of genocide – have a chance to study her answers and take part in the civic discourse over a diplomatic posting that has been the center of national attention since the Administration’s firing of Ambassador John Evans over his truthful remarks on the Armenian Genocide,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.

“Throughout this process, we have been deeply gratified by the vigorous oversight exercised by so many Senators over a set of deeply flawed policies toward Armenia and the region, particularly the excellent line of questions posed by Senator Bob Menendez at last week’s Foreign Relations Committee hearing, and the extensive written inquiries that he and his Senate colleagues – panel Chairman Joe Biden, Barbara Boxer, Robert Casey, Norm Coleman, Russ Feingold, John Kerry, and Presidential candidate Barack Obama – have submitted to Ambassador Designate Yovanovitch.”

As of close of business the day before the Committee was set to vote on the nomination, the nominee had yet to respond to all Senate inquiries, with several responses only being provided hours before the scheduled vote. The Senate Committee vote will likely be held following the July 4th Congressional recess. Ambassador Designate Yovanovitch’s currently available responses are posted on the ANCA website. Read Amb. Yovanovitch's responses and more. . .

Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL)Key Senate Panel Seeks Greater Accountability for Crimes Against Humanity

WASHINGTON, DC – An overflow crowd was on hand today for an unprecedented U.S. Senate hearing exploring means of ensuring greater accountability for perpetrators of crimes against humanity, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

Chaired by Assistant Majority Leader Richard Durbin (D-IL), who heads the Senate’s Judiciary Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law, the hearing provided legislators an opportunity to hear from experts regarding the crafting of U.S. laws to empower the prosecution of individuals who have committed genocide and other crimes against humanity.

“This subcommittee is focused on legislation, not lamentation,” proclaimed Chairman Durbin at outset of the hearing. In his remarks, he focused on the ongoing genocide in Darfur, making it clear that “part of the solution is to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of these horrific crimes. Otherwise they will continue to act with impunity.” The Illinois Senator emphasized that U.S. efforts will “ring hollow unless we lead the world in punishing those responsible for the gravest human rights violations.”

A main theme that ran throughout the hearing was the lack of U.S. laws that would allow for the prosecution in the United States of those who have committed mass killings on foreign soil. Several Senators noted how the absence of this legislation undermines the ability of the United States to hold accountable those responsible for the Darfur Genocide and the crimes currently being committed in Chad.

The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) will be offering written testimony to be submitted as part of the permanent record of this hearing. Read more. . .

GIBRAHAYER e-magazine - System of a Down to Eurovision ?


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Gibrahayer and other combined sources - Work for the reconstruction of the derelict old Armenian cemetery near the Ledra Palace is to begin this week.
A contract has been granted to complete the renovation and construction of the cemetery, the tombs, the exterior wall as well as the chapel in the cemetery.
With the previous attempt, renovation works went wrong because workers simply started breaking up old historic tombs, damaging headstones and exposing bones, sparking outrage among the community.
Finally after two years, renovations are now ready to take place.
“The preliminary work is complete, all the permissions are in place, and the work will be supervised by architects who are experienced professionals” explained the Armenian Representative at the House, Mr. Vartkes Mahdessian “the project was awarded three weeks ago and will start this week” he concluded.
The whole project was made possible by a subsidy that was received from the Cyprus government through the efforts of Mr. Mahdessian, as well as an amount contributed by the Armenian Church. It is foreseen that the completion of the project will take about twelve months.
Mahdessian said:”The boundary wall will be restored again, the small church will be renovated, all the graves will be back in their original places and the ones that are unidentified will all be placed in a common grave, which will have all their names inscribed”.
“This will be something we as Armenians and Cypriots will be proud of” Mahdessian added.


GIBRAHAYER e-magazine - June 23 2008 - After Armenia received its best result ever this year with Sirusho, the world-famous rock band System of a Down has shown a keen interest in representing Armenia in Russia, next year. However, the soloist of the American band, Serj Tankian, has openly stated in a recent visit in Finland that this will be under one condition: if they will be able to use Eurovision as a way to make the much-debated Armenian Genocide issue known. "Eurovision Song Contest would be an excellent way to make this theme known. We must seriously think of this." said Tankian in response to a question posed by Finnish News Agency.
System of a Down is very politically active and are noted for the liberal political views expressed in their songs, tackling myriad subjects including the War on Drugs, religion, drug use, and especially censorship. They have actively campaigned to get Turkey to recognise the controversial Armenian Genocide and the subject is often-tackled in their songs. They are also a part of the Axis of Justice, a non-profit political activist organisation fighting for recognition of the polemical issue, believed to have taken part in the early 20th century. Ironically, the band has many Turkish fans as well.
Previously similar themes have been tried at Eurovision with mixed success. In 1976 Greece sent the song Panaghia mou, Panaghia mou about the invasion of Cyprus, in 1993 Bosnia-Herzegovina performed Sva bol svijeta about the war in the region, and it is also believed by experts that the 1996 United Kingdom entry Ohh Ahh Just a little bit also has a hidden message about genocide.
With previous song titles such as Violent Pornography, This Cocaine Makes Me Feel Like I'm On This Song, Peephole and Fuck the System, System of a Down would perhaps be censored by the EBU rule about bad language that previously forced Silvia Night to officially change the lyrics of her song, while the EBU would probably choose to believe the political message was a reference to ancient Armenian bedtime stories or an ending relationship.


Alexander-Michael Hadjilyra - Gibrahayer - June 18, 2008 - On Wednesday, 18 June 2008, at Nicosia Nareg Varjaran's outdoor amphitheatre, Gibrahayer's nor serount had its day: the graduation ceremony for the school year 2007-2008. The three Nareg Elementary Schools (Nicosia, Larnaca and Limassol) and Nareg gymnasium (Junior High School) held a wonderful graduation ceremony. This
year's graduation was different than previous held by the school, for two main reasons: Nicosia's Nareg Varjaran celebrated its 35th anniversary at its present location and, for the first time, Nareg Gymnasium had its first graduates!
The ceremony started at 18:30 with the entrance of Nareg's Headmaster, Mr Arto Aivazian, followed by the 25 graduates, 20 girls and 5 boys. Ara Kevorkian's musical synthesis "Garod" (nostalgia for the home country) accompanied their entrance. After the graduates were seated, the school choir sang the National Anthems of Cyprus and Armenia, as well as the School Anthem. The opening speeches were delivered by Mrs Yeran Kouyoumdjian, Secretary of the School Committee, and by Headmaster Aivazian.
For the first time since the school's opening in 1972, the Headmaster's speech included a page in Greek, for the benefit of the Inspector and Greek Cypriot Nareg Staff.
After the two concise speeches, two poems were recited by the graduate students: one for the school's graduates, and one for the Armenian people. Then, the graduation diplomas were presented to the 20 Elementary School graduates (17 from Nicosia, 1 from Larnaca and 2 from Limassol) and to the first 5 Gymnasium graduates by the Armenian MP at the House of Representatives, Mr Vartkes Mahdessian, with the blessings of Archbishop Varoujan Hergelian, followed by the
delivery of two awards by the Chairman of the School Committee, Mr Krikor Haroutunian, one for athletic performance to Elena Kaprielian, and one for model student to Marita Aredjian.
The awards were given in the loving memory of the late Toutoundjian family, killed on-board the Helios Airways' tragic flight 522 to Athens on 14 August 2005; both Ara (aged 16) and Baret (aged 12) were students at Nareg Varjaran, killed along with their mother, Hilda, and their father, Hagop who was a member of the School Committee at the time of his death. May they always rest in peace...
Later on, Christina Argyridou greeted us in Armenian on behalf of the Elementary School graduates, and Maneh Tunjikian greeted us with a moving Greek speech on behalf of the Gymnasium graduates. After the two speeches, retiring teacher, Sarah Vorsganian, delivered an encouraging speech addressed to the graduates.
After these speeches, the school's dance troupe performed a folkloric Armenian dance (choreographer A. Mkhitarian), dressed in traditional Armenian costumes, cheering the spectators with their rhythm, co-ordination and liveliness, and then the school choir (under music teacher Sarkis Demirdjian) kicked in, singing a melodious Armenian song; right after that, Nareg graduates joined the choir in singing the traditional farewell song (Hrajeshdi Yerk). The graduation ceremony finished at around 19:40 with a prayer by Archbishop Varoujan Hergelian, der Momik Habeshian and der Mashdotz Ashkarian.
After the community's prominent figures and the proud parents and other family members congratulated the 25 bright graduates, indeed the future of the great Gibrosi Armenian community, everyone went to a nice cocktail inside the school. For about an hour and a half, social conversation and gossip came and went between those who enjoyed the variety of drinks and food available. The catering was excellent!
Towards the end of the cocktail, the schoolchildren spontaneously started dancing the "Miasnoutian Shourchbar" on the upper floor of Nareg Varjaran, accompanied by confetti and presenting us with a lovely sight and sound, under the yellowish full moon and the slightly breezy night.
Occasions like this remind us that the future of all communities, especially of a small one like the Gibrahayer, lies in the hands, minds and spirits of a well-educated nor serount, and that these youngsters will soon become the future leaders of the community. We were also reminded of the importance of a solid and comprehensive education, which ensures that the students are equipped with an invaluable asset
to deal with the adversities of tomorrow's competitive society.
I think that the school administration and, particularly Headmaster Aivazian, deserve a bravo for the excellently organised graduation ceremony.
On his return to Cyprus from the Summit of Presidents of Parliaments of the European Union, Cypriot President of the House of Representatives Marios Garoyian, came back with an autographed
T-Shirt of Cristiano Ronaldo. This out-of protocol acquisition is the present of the Portuguese President when he found out that Garoyian's son is a Portugal supporter.


GIBRAHAYER e-magazineCombined sources - With three well-timed power punches, `King' Arthur Abraham blasted his way to a definitive fourth-round TKO (Total Knock Out) over nemesis Edison Miranda in a thrilling rematch. In one of the most anticipated rematches since Marquez-Vazquez II, Abraham and Miranda had unfinished business. In their first fight, in September 2006 in Germany, Abraham won a controversial - and some say confusing - unanimous decision after suffering a broken jaw in the fifth round. Miranda had five points deducted in that fight (for a head butt and repeated low blows). On Saturday, they met at a catch weight of 166 pounds with Abraham's IBF middleweight title belt sitting safely in his dressing room. But Abraham left no doubt with a powerful display that Miranda could not withstand.

News in Brief by Sevag Devletian
  • Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev and the chief of the Armenian police, Alik Sargsyan, have signed a cooperation agreement. The main task is to coordinate law-enforcement agencies in their joint search of missing people and to counter terrorism, corruption and organised crime.
  • The head of Tourism Department of Armenia told reporters during a press conference last week, that his department is expecting about 600,000 foreign tourists to visit Armenia this year.
  • Despite the existing social-economic problems in Armenia, the Armenian Armed Forces will not lack funding, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan announced last week, addressing the country's top military.
  • Marie Yovanovitch, a U.S. diplomat nominated to be ambassador to Armenia came under intense questioning at her confirmation hearing over the U.S. policy not to label as genocide the World War I-era killings of huge numbers of Armenians. To view the questioning go to www dot anca dot org
  • Ambassador Dan Fried, US assistant secretary of state for European affairs has urged Turkey to come to terms with its painful history regarding the suffering of Anatolian Armenians during World War I, also calling on Armenia to relinquish its territorial claims on Turkey.

this Saturday 28 June
from 8:30pm-12:30am

organised by the Youth Committee of the Armenian MP
Departure from Nicosia from The Armenian Prelature at 7:30pm
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Gibrahayer - A multicultural event under the auspices of the Ambassador of Slovakia H.E. Dr.Anna Turenicova is taking place on Sunday 29 June at 8:00 pm at the Ledra Palace Hotel on the Green Line in Nicosia, in which next to Greek, Turkish and Maronite cultural performances, Hamazkayin's Sipan Dance Ensemble will also participate with Armenian dances.
Little credit can be given to the people who have set the date which coincides with the Euro 2008 Football Final (starts 9:45 pm), and organisers should definitely consider a last minute cancellation of the event, if Turkey make it to the Finals.


Our own cartoonist Tatiana Ferahian's Interlooping Circuits II, has been selected to be exhibited in the official Olympic Fine Arts 2008. Ferahian will not be attending herself as she will already be flying to China to participate in the 3rd Beijing Biennale in July. We wish her all the best.
Visit her work and her biographical notes on Gibrahayer dot com. After that click on "Our online family" and then "Tatiana Ferahian"


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