Armenian Musicians From Turkey Speak Out Against Hatred

ISTANBUL (Hurriyet)–Arto Tuncboyaciyan, a famous Armenian musician and composer who lives in the United States, and Yasar Kurt, who learned of his Armenian origins after the age of 40, have produced an album in Armenia’speaking out ‘against hate, and animosity’

The two musicians crossed paths in Yerevan. Kurt, who says it was a shock for him to learn the truth about his identity, went to Armenia in 2007 upon the invitation of Tuncboyaciyan to satisfy his curiosity about his culture, which he knew nothing about. At that time, the assassination of Hrant Dink, editor in chief for the Agos newspaper, occurred in Turkey. Having the sensitivity of a musician, Tuncboyaciyan composed "Nefrete ve Kine Karsi" (Against Hatred and Animosity) and decided to start a joint project with Kurt as soon as they came together.

Tuncboyaciyan and Kurt have started recording with the Armenian Naval Band, which Tuncboyaciyan formed a decade ago with other Armenian musicians, and completed an album that included the mentioned song. Tuncboyaciyan sang in Armenian and Kurt in Turkish. The duo recorded the album in a short period but met problems when they decided to release it in Turkey.

Although they were covering for all the expenses, record companies were not keen on releasing the record, according to Kurt. But the duo did not give up hope and finally signed a contract with Arma Muzik. The album, which raises a voice against hatred and animosity in two languages, will be released in the coming days.

"Big pains were experienced in the past. Those pains influenced my life. I learned about my Armenian roots when I was 40. If we honestly want to reach the truth, as Turks and Armenia’s, we must eliminate hatred and animosity," Kurt told Hurriyet daily news.

"We are from Rize, actually. My family always had considerable differences in their ways and traditions. Since my childhood I have found myself asking my family, %u218Who are we?’" Kurt said. "Unfortunately, my questions remained unanswered." ‘

Kurt said he was a fan of Tuncboyaciyan before they met in Istanbul. "Arto’s accent was so similar to my father’s. At first we joked about maybe being relatives but then the jokes increased my curiosity about my identity once again."

Meanwhile, Kurt visited his great-uncle, who was in his 90s, and finally found answers about his identity, learning that his family was of Armenian origin.

"Actually our roots are from Van, but during the events experienced back then our family was forced to migrate to the Black Sea. Some died on the way. Only our great-great grandfather could have managed to survive and he founded the family. But he had always lived by hiding his identity," Kurt’s great uncle said.

Although he received the answers he was looking for at the age of 40, the answers rocked Kurt at the core: "Identity and belonging are about knowing yourself; I have been kept away from that awareness."

Kurt described his meeting with Tuncboyaciyan as lucky, stressing the importance of them completing such a big project in Armenia. "Neither of us were born in Armenia, our roots are Anatolian but we have done this from Armenia. Making this call from Armenia is as important as making it from Turkey."

The cover of their album features a rose, representing “the flower of peace the two nations should be offering to each other," Kurt said.

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