For centuries Armenians and Turks lived side-by-side. But horrific events in the Ottoman Empire particularly during the First World War had a catastrophic impact that turned kindred spirits into bitter enemies. Today, a friendship between Armenian duduk player Vardan Hovanissian and his musical soulmate, Turkish saz player Emre Gültekin seeks to overcome a multitude of barriers to create a real sense of hope.
In 2015, their stunning collaboration resulted in Adana – haunting music that combined folk songs with original pieces from across the cultural borderlands of Turkey and Armenia. The Guardian described the album as “High class” and “exquisite, the mood contemplative and nostalgic”. It also won the Octave de la Musique 2016 for World Music.
The duo’s debut release has resonated widely and they visit East London in mid-May for what is sure to be a special performance of Adana. The album is not only a reference to the city that bore the brunt of the Armenian tragedy a century ago, its music also stands for the hope the musicians share of an Adana where Armenians and Turks will again live in harmony.
The album symbolises reconciliation and friendship between two cultures that have many shared roots. A harmonious match of the Armenian and Turkish song texts with the melancholy timbre of the Armenian duduk, which Vardan studied under master instrumentalist Khatchik Khatchatryan and the virtuosity of the Turkish saz and tanbûr, which Emre studied with Talip Özkan and his father the bard Lütfü Gültekin.
The London leg of their European tour is presented by Dash Arts, Kazum and Nest Collective. The concert forms part of REVOLUTION17 – a thrilling programme of music, theatre, performance, film, art and events throughout 2017, offering a unique artistic experience of the Soviet and post-Soviet story in the centenary year of the Russian Revolution.
Title: Vardan Hovanissian and Emre Gültekin
Date: Thursday 11 May 2017
Event times: starts 8pm
Venue address: Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA
Admission: £10-12 (+ £1.50 booking fee unless you’re a Rich Mix member)
Buy tickets: richmix.org.uk/seats
Artist info: facebook.com/vardanhovemregul