The Armenian Museum of America recently announced a series of programs planned for April, with several focused on Genocide Education since the world recognizes April 24 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.
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 to 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, and 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 offers a series of weekly “Object Show and Tell” videos on the Museum’s website and Facebook page, and several have themes related to Genocide Education in April. These include Near East Relief fundraising posters, a costume worn by a boy who survived the Genocide, and village dioramas created by survivors of the Genocide who provided visual evidence of Armenian family and village life. This video series with the Curator is sponsored by a generous donation from Michele Kolligian, President of the Armenian Museum.
The Museum is participating in several community events to commemorate the Genocide, from Armenian Heritage Park in Boston to a joint event with The Promise Institute for Human Rights at UCLA School of Law and other organizations. This event will take place via Zoom on April 20, and MIT’s Lerna Ekmekcioglu and UCLA’s Melissa Bilal will follow the story of a friendship between two Armenian women in Istanbul that endured the hardships of World War I, the Armenian Genocide, and Turkey’s repressive minority politics.
“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.”
Earlier in the month, the Museum will present 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, open to the public, pre-registration is not required, and the video will be made available on the Museum’s website, YouTube Channel, and social media pages including Facebook.
The goal of the Nairyan Ensemble is to popularize Armenian composers, spread classical, spiritual, and folk music, and to help empower women. The ensemble consists of five young women with professional music training. They sing polyphonic songs, mainly in acappella, and 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.”