DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (A.W.)—On Sept. 10, Pianist Raffi Bedrosyan will perform at the newly renovated Surp Giragos Armenian Church in Diyarbakir/Dikranagerd, Turkey.
“This concert is more significant for me than all my past North American performances combined,” said Bedrosyan in an interview with Armenian Weekly Editor Khatchig Mouradian. “It will be the first concert by an Armenian pianist in Diyarbakir since 1915, with a program of Armenian and classical composers.”
The Turkish word for playing a musical instrument, çalmak (pronounced chalmak), also means to rob or to steal. “In 1915, the valuable possessions of the deported and murdered Armenians, including several pianos, were stored in Armenian churches. Diyarbakir Governor Reshid arranged for one of those to be transported to his house,” noted Bedrosyan, who is also a regular contributor to the Armenian Weekly. “It is my wish to realize the second meaning of çalmak in Diyarbakir on Sept. 10, when I play the piano at Surp Giragos.”
Bedrosyan’s comments about the theft of pianos are corroborated by eye-witness accounts. In Confiscation and Destruction: The Young Turk Seizure of Armenian Property, the authors cite the eye-witness account of an Arab, Faiz Al-Ghusayn, who was in Diyarbakir at the time: “You might see a carpet, worth 30 pounds, sold for 5, a man’s costume, worth 4 pounds, sold for 2 medjidies, and so on with the rest of the articles, this being especially the case with musical instruments, such as pianos, etc., which had no value at all.”
The concert is organized by the Surp Giragos Armenian Church Foundation. The proceeds will benefit the construction of the unfinished bell tower. For more information, call (212) 764-8730 in the U.S., (416) 587-5083 in Canada, or 0532-622-8694 in Turkey.