Aghet – The Great Catastrophy

Aghet – The Great Catastrophy


No borders orchestra, Belgrade

In Turkish, ağıt is the term used to describe a wail, the audible expression of mourning.

However, to this day, there is still no commonly accepted name for what happened to the

Armenian nation in modern-day Turkey in the 2nd decade of the 20th century and the series of events that unfolded on April 24, 1915. Before the term genocide was defined by the United Nations in 1948, Armenian authors described the criminal expulsion of their people from Turkey as the Aghet – or catastrophe.

The massacres and death marches in the Ottoman Empire are estimated to have led to the death of up to 1.5 million Armenians. As the most important Turkish ally during the First World War, the German Empire was also embroiled in these criminal acts: The German Foreign Office saw fit to ignore the reports of deportations and attacks by the Young Turks. Some German officers even played an active role in the crimes committed against the Armenian population.

Nowadays, most researchers regard the events of 1915 as the first systematic annihilation of a nation – an act which served as a blueprint for all subsequent ethnically motivated campaigns of destruction and the animosity, which persists, even to this very day. Whether the Holocaust, Cambodia, Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, Darfur or the turmoil in East Timor – wherever you look, violence is motivated by the cultural or religious background of its victims.

Due to the unabated volatility on the geopolitical stage, Aghet aims to deliver much more than a sophisticated artistic act of commemoration. Instead, the project will endeavour to interact with the audience in an open and unbiased dialogue, the results of which will have implications that extend well beyond the confines of a concert hall.

This unique initiative, held to coincide with the hundredth anniversary of the start of the

deportations, involves the coming together of musicians and composers from Armenia, Turkey and Germany, not just in remembrance of the events of 1915 but also to seize the opportunity for making a joint fresh start. In conjunction with their Armenian and Turkish partners, the Dresdner Sinfoniker set up the Aghet concert project as an impressive act of reconciliation which points the way forward on how to deal with the aftermath of conflict throughout the world.

For a peace-loving world born from the rubble of the past.

Following on from Hasretim and Dede Korkut, Aghet is the third and final part of a trilogy in

which the Dresdner Sinfoniker deal with the history and culture of Anatolia and the Caucasus region, and wrestle with the concepts of cultural background and identity. A musical exploration of a region where the Orient meets the Occident and which has been transformed and pervaded by both, and whose significance as a cultural bridge it is impossible to overemphasise.

Aghet – The catastrophe as an opportunity for a fresh start. In the freedom of art lies the power to forge a new path. A joint commemoration as the launch pad for a better future.