By Armenuhi Drost-Abarjan
BERLIN — The Mesrob Armenian Studies Center at the Martin Luther University in Halle-Wittenberg celebrated its 20th anniversary in the academic year 2018-2019 with three international conferences, an exhibition on Levon I (see https://mirrorspectator.com/2019/05/30/levon-i-and-the-kingdom-of-cilicia/) and two concerts. The festivities concluded in October with an academic conference on “Komitas and his Legacy” on the occasion of the 150th birthday of the Armenian musicologist and composer, a symbolic figure for German-Armenian relations.
The international conference-festival titled “Komitas and his Legacy” on October 8-10 drew 50 guests and speakers from the US, Canada, Armenia, Russia, Ukraine, Croatia, France and Italy. It was a cooperative effort of the Komitas Museum-Institute in Yerevan (Dr. Nikolay Kostandyan/ Prof. Mher Navoyan), the Humboldt University in Berlin (Prof. Sebastian Klotz) and the State Library in Berlin (Meliné Pehlivanian) and took place in Berlin and in Halle (Prof. Klaus Neumann/ Prof. Armenuhi Drost-Abgarjan) from October 8 to 10. In the banquet halls of the Humboldt University and the Halle University, high level representatives from the political, cultural and scientific communities in Germany and Armenia participated.
Armenia’s Ambassador to Germany Ashot Smbatyan and the priest of the Armenian Community in Germany Rev. Yeghishe Avetisyan opened the festive event by laying a wreath at the memorial plaque for Komitas at his alma mater in Berlin.
The aim of the conference was to take a new look at Komitas’s life work, by shedding light on those areas in which his work was innovative, including field research, musical ethnology, folk music, medieval church music, the art of composition and liturgy. In the course of the event, aspects of Armenian music were also considered in the context of other musical traditions. The proceedings of the conference will appear in an anthology in Yerevan.
The program included the official opening of a traveling exhibition on Komitas, at the State Library in Berlin. A concert featuring works by Komitas was sponsored by the German Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas and the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Armenia Zohrab Mnatsakanyan. Prominent artists who performed were Hasmik Papyan (Vienna), Sergei Khachatryan (Eschborn), Hayk Sukiasyan (Madrid) and the Berlin vocal ensemble under the direction of Prof. Kristian Commichau (Potsdam).