for string quartet, prerecorded backing track, and live processing(2015)
|Movements||I. slave to your voice|
II. you did not answer
III. [with blood-soaked feathers]
IV. you flew away
|Commission||Silent Cranes was commissioned for the Kronos Quartet with support to date from the David Harrington Research and Development Fund, the Angel Stoyanof Commission Fund, Zvart and Rouben Potoukian, Gates McFadden and Robert Straus, Dayna Sumiyoshi and Greg Smedsrud, and other generous individuals.|
|Premiere||April 29, 2015; Yerevan Perspectives 16th International Music Festival presents at Armenian National Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet in Yerevan, Armenia; Kronos Quartet|
|Instrumentation||2 violins, viola, cello, and live processing engineer|
|Technical requirements||See preview pages for amplification, prerecorded backing track, and live processing details.|
April 24, 2015 marks the centennial of the Armenian Genocide, a tragic event that led to the mass extermination of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Turks that was the first genocide of the 20thcentury. While over 20 countries and 42 U.S. States have formally recognized the Armenian Genocide, modern-day Turkey has yet to do so and threatens imprisonment to those who push the topic within its borders. Even now, 100 years later, this historic event continues to be just as unresolved as it was before. As an Armenian-American composer who values freedom of speech and whose family fled the genocide, I feel this is an essential time to remember those who were lost, while continuing a dialogue about what happened and how we can prevent further genocides from happening in the future.
Silent Cranes is inspired by the Armenian folk song Groung (Crane) in which the singer calls out to the migratory bird, begging for word from their homeland, only to have the crane respond with silence and fly away. The first, second, and fourth movement titles quote directly from the folk song lyrics. Those who were lost during the genocide are cranes in their own way, unable to speak of the horrors that happened, and it is the responsibility of the living to give them a voice.
The prerecorded backing track includes testimonies by genocide survivors, recordings from the genocide era of Armenian folk songs, and a poem from investigative journalist David Barsamian in response to the question“Why is it important to talk about the Armenian Genocide 100 years later?”
Projection Design: Laurie Olinder
Poetry: David Barsamian, excerpts from“A Century….”
Groung (Crane) performed by Komitas Vardapet/Armenak Shah Muradian and Andouni (Homeless) performed by Komitas Vardapet in Paris, France, 1912 (courtesy of Traditional Crossroads); Groung (Crane) performed by Zabelle Panosian in Harlem, New York, 1916 (courtesy of Tompkins Square)
Araxie Barsamian, Bishop Hagop, Victoria Mellian, (courtesy of David Barsamian); Haig Baronian, Aghavnie Der Sarkissian, Elise Hagopian Taft, Nium Sukkar, (courtesy of the Armenian Film Foundation); Azniv Guiragossian (interviewed by Taleen Babayan and the composer)