Being Armenian in Istanbul Today. Lecture by Christopher Sheklian.

2017-11 ConstantinopleAnthropologist and Armenian Deacon Dr. Christopher Sheklian will deliver a lecture at the Zohrab Center on Tuesday, November 7 at 7PM entitled, Sharagans in the City: Being Armenian in Istanbul Today.

Armenians in Istanbul today navigate a city that is undeniably their home, yet often feels exclusionary. People rarely speak Armenian on the street and many of the churches are hidden behind high walls. Yet the Armenians living there do not necessarily feel excluded or discriminated 2017-11 SheklianSharagan.001against. “Bolis” is their home, and they feel a sense of belonging there.

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Dr. Sheklian will discuss the complicated sense of belonging that Armenians feel toward Istanbul and toward Turkey. He suggests that the inheritance of the Armenian Apostolic Church’s liturgy helps many Armenians to navigate the city. Through constant exposure to Armenian sharagans and other hymns, Armenians are able to hear the soundscape of Istanbul as one where they also belong.

Christopher Sheklian, a native of central California, earned his PhD in Anthropology from the University of Chicago in 2017. His dissertation, entitled, Theology and the Community: The Armenian Minority, Tradition, and Secularism in Turkey, was based on two years of ethnographic fieldwork with Armenians in Istanbul. An ordained deacon of the Armenian Church, Dr. Sheklian spent a year as a student and researcher at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary in New York. He previously attended the University of California, Berkeley where he majored in Anthropology, and he worked as a substitute

Chris Head Shot 1B
Anthropologist and ordained deacon of the Armenian Church Dr. Christopher Sheklian will speak about how the Armenian Church and especially its sacred music affords a sense of belonging to Armenians of Istanbul.

teacher before earning his MA and PhD at Chicago.

This year, Dr. Sheklian is a Manoogian Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Michigan, where he plans to develop the conceptual apparatus of his dissertation by considering the connections between Christology, semiotics, and hermeneutics and to pursue a second ethnographic project with Armenian refugees from Syria and Iraq living in the greater Detroit area.

The lecture at the Zohrab Center will take place in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese in New York. The event is free and open to the public. As always, a reception and conversation will follow the lecture.

For further information contact the Zohrab Center at zohrabcenter@armeniandiocese.org or (212) 686-0710.

Armenian Aleppo: An Evening of Music, Photographs and Stories

2015-08 40MartyrsImageTo inaugurate its Autumn program of learning opportunities, the Zohrab Information Center will host the release of a new audio CD entitled, Forty Martyrs: Armenian Chanting from Aleppo on Friday, September 18 at 7PM in the Kavookjian Auditorium of the Armenian Diocese in New York.

Forty Martyrs is the latest release of the Sacred Voices of Syria series produced by Jason Hamacher. Over six years the musician has documented the ancient prayers, hallowed rituals and sacred spaces of the Sufi, Armenian, Syriac and Assyrian musical traditions of Aleppo. Hamacher recorded Armenian Church hymns sung by V. Rev. Fr. Yeznig Zegchanian inside the 600 year-old Armenian Church of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste in the old city of Aleppo.

The 14th century Armenian Cathedral of the Forty Martyrs in Aleppo, Syria.
The 14th century Armenian Cathedral of the Forty Martyrs in Aleppo, Syria.

Armenians have chanted in Aleppo’s Forty Martyrs Armenian Church (Քառասուն մանկանց – Karasoon Mangants) since it was constructed in 1429. An ancient rest stop along the Christian pilgrimage route from Western Armenia to Jerusalem, Aleppo hosted hostels, churches, and a small but well-anchored Armenian community.

During the Armenian Genocide, hundreds of thousands of Armenians were deported to Aleppo before many were pushed to the killing fields of Der Zor. By the 1920’s 100,000 Armenian refugees had settled in Syria, most of them in Aleppo. The ancient city would become a safe haven for the Armenians, who prospered there. (CLICK HERE for one Armenian’s tribute to the city and its hospitable inhabitants). The 15th century Armenian Cathedral of the Forty Martyrs was the Christian home for tens of thousands of Armenians who would later immigrate to the United States.

The bloodshed in Syria today has reduced the Armenian population of Aleppo by half and and placed this historic, prolific and prosperous community in peril.

Mr. Hamacher will share personal experiences of the people, places and events that changed his life in Syria before the eruption of war. He will tell stories, play vinyl records, and show photographs from his forthcoming book and explain how he, a punk drummer from Washington DC, ended up with an archive of Syrian and Armenian history.

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This event marks the premiere of the Forty Martyrs CD in the New York area. Copies of the CD and the elegant and informative booklet that accompanies it will be available for sale. The presentation is free and open to the public. A reception will follow. For further information contact the Zohrab Center at zohrabcenter@armeniandiocese.org or (212) 686-0710. #40Martyrs.

The Forty Martyrs Church is named after 40 Roman soldiers who converted to Christianity only to be martyred by pagan, Roman authorities in 320 AD. Continue reading “Armenian Aleppo: An Evening of Music, Photographs and Stories”

New Book on 19th Century Armenian Composer Kristapor Kara-Murza

19th century Armenian composer Kristapor Kara-Murza was an instructor at the Kevorkian Seminary in Holy Etchmiadzin and composed a setting of the Divine Liturgy.
19th century Armenian composer Kristapor Kara-Murza was an instructor at the Kevorkian Seminary in Holy Etchmiadzin and composed a setting of the Divine Liturgy.

Musicologist Mr. Krikor Pidejian will present his new book on the 19th-century Armenian composer Kristapor Kara-Murza on Thursday, February 19 at 7:30PM at St. Leon Armenian Church, 12-61 Saddle River Road, Fair Lawn, NJ.

Noted pianist Şahan Arzruni will also speak at the event.

The Zohrab Information Center is co-sponsoring the event with St. Leon Armenian Church (Fair Lawn, NJ), the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), the Armenian Network of America- Greater NY, the Esayan-Getronagan Alumni Association and the Tekeyan Cultural Association.

Kristapor Kara-Murza was arguably the first composer to introduce homophony or chordal music to Armenian music and the first to form mixed gender choirs that brought Armenian men and women together to sing as a group.

Kara-Murza also composed a setting of the Badarak, the Divine Liturgy.

Krikor Pidedjian and Şahan Arzrun will place the work of Kara-Murza in historical and social contexts and bring to life exchanges with personalities of the time, such as Khrimian Hayrig. They will share new discoveries, including a Divine Liturgy composed by Kara-Murza that was found by Krikor Pidedjian and Kara-Murza’s connection to the Armenian national anthem, Mer Hayrenik.

Krikor Pidedjian is a noted conductor, composer and author. He will speak in Armenian.Şahan Arzruni is an accomplished pianist, composer, writer, producer and recording artist. His presentation will be in English.

2015-02 PidejianFlyer-page-001Click here to download a flyer.

The book presentation is free and open to the public. A reception will follow. For more information call St. Leon Armenian Church at (201) 791-2862