WATERTOWN, Mass.—The Armenian Museum of America has announced its programming for the month of April with several events focused on genocide education. April 24 is recognized as the date when the extermination of the Armenian people began in 1915. The Armenian Genocide resulted in the deaths of more than 1.5 million people and the displacement of many more from their homeland at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.
“During the month of April, we remember and honor those who were lost, celebrate the strength of the survivors and the communities they built or rebuilt, and warn the world of the possibility for this kind of atrocity to occur again,” says executive director Jason Sohigian. “The story of the Genocide and the world’s reaction is not an isolated one tucked away in history. This is painfully obvious as we witnessed anti-Armenian ethnic cleansing and cultural erasure in Artsakh in recent months.”
One of the major offerings from the Museum will be a Virtual Exhibition titled “Campaign for Compassion: Lady Anne, General Azgapetian, and Near East Relief.” Many around the world remained silent during the Genocide, however there were some who worked feverishly to aid survivors and raise awareness about the crimes occurring in the region. This exhibition focuses on a husband and wife who led such a campaign for Near East Relief.
The exhibition was sponsored by a grant from the Cummings Foundation. It is an excerpt from a new exhibition on the Museum’s second floor gallery curated by Visiting Scholar Dr. Alisa Dumikyan.
Curator Gary Lind-Sinanian, who hosts a series of weekly “Object Show and Tell” videos online and on social media, will focus on Genocide Education in April, including Near East Relief fundraising posters, clothes worn by a boy who survived the Genocide and village dioramas created by Genocide survivors providing visual evidence of Armenian family and village life. This video series with the curator is sponsored by a generous donation from Armenian Museum president Michele Kolligian.
The Museum is also participating in several community events to commemorate the Genocide including the commemoration at Armenian Heritage Park in Boston and a joint event with The Promise Institute for Human Rights at UCLA School of Law. “Paging Through Photos and Songs: Hayganush Mark and Koharig Ghazarosian’s Friendship in Post-Genocide Istanbul” will take place via Zoom on April 20. MIT’s Dr. Lerna Ekmekcioglu and UCLA’s Dr. Melissa Bilal will follow the story of a friendship between two Armenian women in Istanbul who endured the hardships of World War I, the Armenian Genocide and Turkey’s repressive minority politics.
The Museum will also be presenting its fourth online concert. The performance by the all-female Nairyan Vocal Ensemble will be released on Sunday, April 11 at 2:00 pm EST (11:00 am PST and 10:00 pm in Armenia). The performance was recorded at Yerevan’s Komitas Chamber Music Hall exclusively for the Armenian Museum. This concert series is supported by a grant from the Dadourian Foundation and is curated by Maestro Konstantin Petrossian—artistic director, composer and conductor. It is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is not required. The video will be made available online, on the Museum’s YouTube channel and on Facebook.
The goal of the Nairyan Ensemble is to popularize Armenian composers, empower women and spread classical, spiritual and folk music. The ensemble consists of five young women with professional music training. They sing polyphonic songs, mainly in a cappella. Some of the songs are performed with clarinet, tambourine and other instruments.
Their aim has been to make music available, especially in places where classical music is not typically performed or heard. In 2018, the ensemble began performing songs in sign language. By 2019, the ensemble had translated 32 songs by Armenian composers into sign language so they can be enjoyed by people with hearing impairments.
“With everything that has transpired in Artsakh and Armenia in recent months — and as we turn to remembrance of the Genocide in April — we are pleased to present this concert by the Nairyan Vocal Ensemble,” concludes Sohigian. “I think you’ll agree that the Nairyan Choir conveys a sense of hope and optimism in these challenging times, and we celebrate and honor their talent and creativity.”