Silence and Visuality Seminar Series in Armenian Art and History

Gomidas Dedication:

We dedicate this seminar series to the ethnomusicologist and composer Gomidas Vartabed. He was born Soghomon Sogomonian in the central Anatolian city of Kütahya, the son of a cobbler and carpet weaver. Gomidas studied classical music and liturgical music in Berlin and Tbilisi, but his passion was folk music. He collected over 2000 folk songs in Anatolia and the Caucasus—including Armenian peasant music that would otherwise have been forgotten. Three quarters of a century after his death, Gomidas remains among the greatest composers of the twentieth century. Claude Debussy gave him that title after listening to just one song. His music is of such stylistic purity, its language so sublime, Aram Khachaturian, one of the most famous of Armenian composers, explained, that it is impossible to pass by. Gomidas’ music, though, would fall forever silent in 1915. On April 24th, he was among more than two hundred Ottoman Armenian intellectuals—poets, doctors, writers, members of the Ottoman parliament, and teachers—who were arrested in Istanbul, and, with a few exceptions, killed. Gomidas was among them, an exception. After a long mental illness, he was brought to Paris where he died in 1935 in the Villejuif Asylum on the outskirts of Paris. It is said that he never played music again; that his music died with his compatriots; that he had gone mad. But music is not just in the notes, Gomidas’ admirer Debussy once said, but in the spaces between them.

Convened by Dr Suzan Meryem Rosita Kalaycı and Dr Vazken Khatchig Davidian, the series shall provide a multidisciplinary discussion forum, hosting a diverse group of guest presenters to include artists, established and emerging scholars and postgraduate students. The events shall comprise of artists’ talks, book launches, current research, works in progress, etc. The seminars, which are open to all, shall take place three times a term.

In the inaugural event of the series, entitled ‘Missing, Remembering, Revival’ the Netherlands-based interdisciplinary artist Krikor Momdjian (previously an artist-in-residence at Pembroke College in 2015) returns to Oxford for a conversation with Dr Davidian and Dr Kalaycı. This session will be held at 17:00 on 20 October 2022 (Thursday, Week 2) at the Harold Lee Room, Pembroke College. Refreshments and nibbles shall be provided.

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Sorry, there are currently no talks scheduled in this series.

This series features in the following public collections: