by V. REV. DANIEL FINDIKYAN
Every book tells two stories.
The first is contained within its pages, be it a novel, an atlas, a cookbook or a chemistry textbook. The second is the book’s own story—how that particular volume came to be—from the printing press to the bookstore or dealer—traversing perhaps multiple owners and readers, until it falls into your hands.
Recently the Zohrab Center was the beneficiary of the library of the late and beloved priest Fr. Garen Gdanian, who passed away in 2013. While sorting through cartons of books, I noticed the elegantly embossed leather binding that is the hallmark of a precious old book.
My suspicions were confirmed as I plucked it out of the box and carefully turned the book in my hands. Lustrous gilt edging glittered in my eyes while my fingers coursed over the grooves and ridges of the intricately embossed cover. Whoever bound this book spared no expense.
Stamped in gold leaf on the cover was this title: Առ բարձրաշնորհ Տ.Տ. Մաղաքիա Արքեպիսկոպոս Օրմանեան Պատրիարք Հայոց [T0 the Most Gracious Reverend Archbishop Maghakia Ormanian Patriarch of the Armenians].
He, of course, is the great Armenian churchman from the turn of the twentieth century, easily one of the greatest Armenian intellects of modern times, who served as Patriarch of Constantinople from 1896-1908.
Want to read more about the Patriarch Maghakia Ormanian along with an excerpt in English from his famous Gospel commentary, Hamabadoom? Click here for the latest issue of the Armenian Church magazine The Treasury / Գանձարան.
Yet while Ormanian was a gifted and prolific author, the cover indicates that this book was not written by him, but addressed to him.
My first thought was that the book contained a letter directed to the Patriarch, who was a controversial figure. He resigned his position as Patriarch under pressure from political extremists, who had attacked him for his stubborn refusal to support any form of violence in the Armenians’ opposition to Abdul Hamid’s regime. Could this book be some anti-Ormanian diatribe?
But no. A gilt inscription on the book’s thin spine reads Կրօնի Ուսում [Course in Religion].
Indeed, turning to the title page, we read the full title of the work:
Illustrated Course in Religion from the Known to the Unknown, from the Impenetrable to the Believable. A Face-to-Face Course and Graded Study. Intermediate Level.
The author is a certain Tavit Khachgonts (1866-1918). It was published by the Balentz Press and Bookstore in Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1905.
Traversing the pages of our book we discover a comprehensive survey of the Armenian Church in 188 pages. It includes brief but incisive summaries of the Old and New Testaments, the history of the Armenian Church against the background of the universal church; key persons and saints, feasts and fasts, sacraments and liturgical services, vestments and vessels, church architecture and hierarchical structures, Armenian church pious customs and traditions, and more. A number of tables, charts and glossaries round out the extremely valuable manual, which may well be the finest one-volume survey of the Armenian Church that I have encountered.
The author adds this codicil to the title page:
To transmit Armenian Christianity to Armenian young people and to present their mother church as something for them to love.
A noble goal indeed.
So much for the first story.
The gilt inscription on the leather cover addressing the book to Patriarch Ormanian turns out to be a glorified gift tag. This copy was a personal gift. It was specially bound for the Armenian Patriarch, whose monogram, M.O., is stamped on the title page. This book once belonged to the great Maghakia Ormanian.
How did the book travel from the sacred galleries of the Armenian Patriarchate in Constantinople over 100 years ago to Fr. Garen’s personal library in Troy, New York?
The mystery continues. Read on… Read more…
This season’s final Zohrab Center enrichment evening will be devoted to the legacy of the celebrated and beloved Armenian priest-musician-composer, Komitas Vartabed.
Ashley Bozian-Murtha will present a talk entitled, Komitas Vartabed and the Survival of Armenian Music at the Zohrab Center on Thursday, June 9 at 7PM.
Komitas is a central figure in the history of Armenian music, particularly the sacred music of the Armenian Church. His contributions span liturgical, folk, and even concert music. Surprisingly, despite his universal admiration today, during his lifetime his work earned him the ire of church officials and his fellow clergymen, who frequently denounced him as a musicological firebrand and moral deviant.
Perhaps more significant than his work inside Armenia, however, is his legacy to the global Armenian diaspora. While controversial during his lifetime, Komitas was uniquely positioned to preserve Armenian music from the oblivion of genocide. Were it not for his oft-condemned inclination to transcribe and transform the music of Armenia, that vast tradition may well have perished in the attempted destruction of the Armenian people.
Much research exists on the life of Komitas, and on Armenian music as a separate entity, but there remains a relative paucity of work to place the two in context with one another. Ms. Bozian-Murtha will survey and sort through the biographical, musicological, and historical research on the composer and his impact on Armenian music. Analyzing the composer’s original compositions and transcriptions along with secondary biographical sources and historical data, she asserts that the very survival of Armenian music in the aftermath of the Genocide is a direct result of Komitas’s labors.
Ashley Bozian-Murtha is a PhD candidate in History at St. John’s University (New York). She holds a B.A. in History and Music and an M.Ed. from Manhattanville College (New York). Following her undergraduate work, she earned an MA in Music History from Hunter College, where she wrote her master’s thesis on the life and work of Komitas Vartabed.
The program will be held in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese in New York. All are welcome to attend the free event, which will be followed by a reception.
For further information contact the Zohrab Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or (212) 686-0710.
The Zohrab Center will feature two extraordinary opportunities for Armenian learning, enrichment and conversation next week.
Saints and the Armenian People
On Tuesday, May 24 Dr. Marianna Apresyan, Instructor of Theology at the Gevorkyan Seminary of Holy Etchmiadzin, will lecture on the Saints in the Life and Worship of the Armenian People [Սուրբերը հայ ժողովուրդի կեանքին ու պաշտամունքին մէջ]. She will lecture in Armenian but a printed text of her talk in English translation will be provided.
Also participating will be His Eminence Abp. Yeznik Petrosyan of Holy Etchmiadzin, who is a long-time member of the Armenian Bible Society. He will speak about the work of the Bible Society in Armenia to translate the Bible into Modern Armenia and to disseminate it.
Three Early Armenian Churches and their Message
On Thursday, May 26, Professor Christina Maranci, Arthur H. Dadian and Ara T. Oztemel Associate Professor of Armenian Art at Tufts University, will deliver a talk entitled, Vigilant Powers: Ethics, Art History and Preservation of Armenian Churches.
Dr. Maranci, returns to the Zohrab Center to present her new book, Vigilant Powers: Three Churches of Medieval Armenia. The leading historian of Armenian art and architecture in the West today, she will present the case of three iconic Armenian Churches built during the “global wars” of the seventh century: Mren, Zvartnots and Ptghni. Examining the meaning of their unique designs, she will show how Armenian architects were closely engaged with both Byzantine imperial interests and with contemporary events in the Holy Land, as she uncovers Christian Armenia’s vibrant visual culture, its message, and its precarious state today.
Copies of Dr. Maranci’s book will be available for sale.
Both events will take place in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese in New York at 7PM. All are warmly invited to attend the free events. Each will be followed by a reception and conversation.
For further information contact the Zohrab Center at email@example.com or (212) 686-0710.
Dr. Bedross Der Matossian, Associate Professor of Modern Middle East History at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will present a lecture at the Zohrab Information Center entitled, The Political Culture of the Young Turk Revolution of 1908: Space Symbolism, and Language on Thursday, May 5, 2106 at 7PM in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese in New York.
The Young Turk Revolution of July 24, 1908 brought jubilation to Istanbul and other cities across the Ottoman Empire. Turks and other ethnic groups shared in the festivities that heralded the demise of the old regime and the inauguration of what was to have been a new and hopeful era. To build consensus among the various ethnic groups, the Young Turks introduced new social and political definitions, new symbols, and new rituals.
Professor Der Matossian will analyze the revolutionary rituals of these festivities from the perspective of space, symbolism and language as he explores the Young Turks’ attempts to create a new civil religion that would provide solidarity and emphasize oneness rather than distinction.
Born and raised in Jerusalem, Dr. Der Matossian is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he began his graduate studies. He completed his PhD in Middle East History at Columbia University in 2008. His areas of interest include ethnic politics in the Middle East, inter-ethnic violence in the Ottoman Empire, Palestinian history, and the history of the Armenian Genocide.
He has taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago. The recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, he is the author of dozens of published articles and digital projects. His book, Shattered Dreams of Revolution: From Liberty to Violence in the Late Ottoman Empire, was published by Stanford University Press in 2014.
The lecture is free and open to the public. A reception will follow. For further information contact the Zohrab Information Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or (212) 686-0710.
A new book by Krikor Pidedjian entitled, Հայ Եկեղեցւոյ Երաժշտութիւնը / The Music of the Armenian Church: An Historical Survey, will be presented at the Zohrab Center this Thursday, April 7 at 7:00PM in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese in New York.
Mr. Pidedjian, an accomplished composer, choral conductor and musicologist specializing in the history, theory and repertoire of Armenian sacred and secular music, has received awards and commendations internationally for his artistic and scholarly contributions. Most recently, he was recognized by the faculty of the Komitas Conservatory in Yerevan, Armenia, where he has lectured frequently. In 2008 His Holiness Catholicos Karekin II awarded him the St. Nersess the Graceful medal for outstanding service to the Armenian Church.
The new book, written primarily in Armenian includes an extensive summary in English and is profusely illustrated with musical examples. The book has been published by the Diocese of the Armenian Church (Eastern).
Presenting the book will be Deacon Rubik Mailian, Director of of Sacred Music and Pastoral Assistant at St. John’s Armenian Church (Southfield, Michigan). Deacon Mailian will speak in English before Mr. Pidedjian makes remarks in Armenian.
Krikor Pidedjian was born into a musical family in Alexandria, Egypt. He studied in the Seminary of the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia, where, concurrent with studies at the Beirut Conservatory, he directed the St. Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral Choir. He received a B.S. from the Mannes School of Music and M.A. from Hunter College, both in New York.He is the founder of numerous choirs and ensembles which, under his direction, have performed Armenian sacred and popular music on stages throughout the world. He has lectured internationally on Armenian music and published extensively. He has received numerous awards and commendations for his musical and scholarly work, most recently by the Komitas Conservatory in Yerevan.
The book presentation is free and open to the public. Copies of Mr. Pidedjian’s book will be available for purchase. A reception will follow. For further information contact the Zohrab Information Center at email@example.com or (212) 686-0710.
Dr. Kim Theriault, Professor of Art History, Criticism and Theory at Dominican University, River Forest, Illinois, will present a lecture on the art of Arshile Gorky and its connections to his Armenian identity on Thursday, March 10, 2016 at the Zohrab Center in New York.
Dr. Theriault will discuss the intersection of Arshile Gorky’s Armenian identity with his art, and his subsequent importance to the Armenian community as a model for genocide survival and Armenian success in a modern world.
Professor Theriault’s book Rethinking Arshile Gorky (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2009), was awarded a Society for the Preservation of American Modernists publication grant for its insights into the themes of displacement, trauma, and memory, as well as identifying issues of identity, originality, and mourning in Gorky’s work.
The illustrated lecture will take place in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese, 630 2nd Avenue, New York at 7PM. Following the lecture, refreshments will be served and Dr. Theriault’s book will be available for purchase. All are welcome and admission is free.
CLICK HERE to download a color flyer. For further information contact the Zohrab Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or (212) 686-0710.
Kim Servart Theriault holds a Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Virginia and is Professor of Art History, Theory, and Criticism at Dominican University in River Forest, IL, where she focuses upon Modernist and Contemporary Art History, Criticism, and Culture. She also teaches graduate courses at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, most recently, The Art of Conscience: Cultural Trauma, Collective Memory, and the Artist in the Face of Social and Ethical Dilemmas.
In addition to her book, Professor Theriault contributed the essay “Exile, Trauma, and Arshile Gorky’s The Artist and His Mother” to the Yale University Press catalog for Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective, an exhibition organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which traveled to the Tate Modern and Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art.
She has delivered lectures at the Library of Congress, National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon, Portugal, and universities such as Oxford, the University of London, the University of California in both Los Angeles and Berkeley, the University of Michigan, and multiple College Art Association Annual conferences. She also writes reviews of contemporary art. Read more…
The Zohrab Center launches its Winter/Spring 2016 term of enrichment offerings with a Poetry Evening on Thursday, February 25, 2016 at 7PM.
Reading selections from their writings in English and Armenian will be three distinguished Armenian-American poets including Lola Koundajian, who has once again graciously organized this Poetry Reading for the Zohrab Center.
Sarah Giragosian teaches in the department of Writing and Critical Inquiry at the University at Albany-SUNY. Her poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in such journals as Crazyhorse, Prairie Schooner, The Missouri Review, The Baltimore Review, and Blackbird, among others. A winner of the 2014 American Poetry Journal Book Prize, her first book, Queer Fish, is under contract with Dream Horse Press.
Albert Kapikian is a writer and Adjunct Professor of English at Montgomery College in Maryland. He is the grandson of Zareh Kapikian (1898-1989), a survivor of the Armenian Genocide. After immigrating to the United States, Zareh Kapikian worked as a photoengraver and was instrumental in the founding, building and daily life of the Armenian Church of the Holy Martyrs, the St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral, the Pan Sebastia Union and the Armenian Home for the Aged.
Lola Koundakjian enjoys her poetry diplomacy, touring the world to read at poetry festivals, and promoting Armenian culture through the Armenian Poetry Project. She briefly taught at St Nersess Seminary. She is the author of The Accidental Observer (2011 USA) and Advice to a Poet (2014 Peru; 2015 USA). http://www.lolakoundakjian.com
The Poetry Evening will take place in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese, 630 Second Avenue, New York.
All are welcome. A reception with light refreshments will follow. Admission is $5. Students with ID are free. For further information contact the Zohrab Center at (212) 686-0710 or email@example.com.