Հայերը Մարսելում․ մաս 2

Հայերը Մարսելում․ մաս 2


The Armenian community of Marseilles is multilayered. Over the years, Armenians from different corners have landed here. A large part of in Marseilles’ Armenian community came from Istanbul. There is even an organization of Istanbul Armenians. Khachik Yilmazian is one of the prominent representatives of this sub-community. Khachik was born in the Turkish province of Yozgat and at a very young age moved to Istanbul with his family. He received his primary education at the Sahakyan – Nunyan Armenian College in Istanbul and then continued his studies at the seminary of the Holy Cross monastery. Since 1915, particularly during Kemalist movements, in 1920s, ‘23, ‘25, ‘26 many Armenians were forced to migrate, and they came to live in here since Marseilles was the first port city. So they came and settled in current Armenian-populated districts of Marseilles – Saint Jerome, Beaumont, Saint Antoine, Boulevard Oddo, Saint Louis etc. When the Istanbul Armenians came here, they felt as complete strangers – they didn’t know the language, didn’t have a home, they are jobless, in other words – they had no bread to eat. Naturally, they began to communicate amongst each other in order to find employment, homes, and go on with the new life. And at that time thankfully there were those among them who had the idea to establish an Istanbul-Armenian cultural compatriotic union. Today the compatriotic union has lost its meaning, but in those years. at the end of 1925s, 30s, 40s numerous compatriotic unions thrived. Among those was the Istanbul-Armenian union, which had the aim to simply provide assistance to one another. Over the last 10 years Khachik has also assumed the duties of the Chair of the Istanbul-Armenian Cultural Association. The Armenian community, as in everywhere around the world, in Marseilles too has mainly gathered around the church and the school. The choir also has a uniting ability. Khachik is a professional musician and conductor. In 1977, the administration of the Holy Translators’ [Srbots Targmanchats] Armenian Apostolic Church in Marseilles, invited him to establish a new choir. That’s how the Sahag – Mesrob Armenian choir came to be in Marseilles, named after 5th century Armenian notables Sahak Partev and Mesrop Mashtots. Today, the choir consists of about 60 members. The word “choir” has the word “group” in it, it’s a place of unity. Girls and boys come together here, think together, and communicate. This is the most important thing. The choir is also important for spreading awareness about a person’s unique culture, spiritual values. Had it not been the rhythm, what would a human’s life be like? Even our hearts beat in rhythm. Members of the Sahag – Mesrob choir attend the practice voluntarily and have given concerts in many French cities as well as in Armenia, Yerevan and Gyumri. According to Khachik, it was a dream come true. There are members in the group who’ve been there since its creation, but there are also many young members. They are mostly from Armenia. Ani Tonapetian has been in the choir since the day it was founded. Khachik’s wife, Juliette Yilmazian, has been a piano teacher at the Marseille Music Conservatory for about 35 years. She also sings in the choir. I was born in Istanbul where I received my education, including musical. Then I left for Germany to advance my musical education. Afterwards, we settled here, and a few years later I started teaching at the Conservatory. I used to play the piano here myself, but now that my student has grown and plays very well, I changed my spot and now I sing in the choir. I was born in France. I think after the 1915 Genocide there are only two prevalent things in the culture – to preserve the language and the music. It’s a way for us Armenians to unite together. We set aside the politics – no matter whether you’re leftist or rightist, we’re a huge family, all together. I Was born in Marseilles. I’m 65 years old, both of my parents also were born here, right after the Genocide. Thanks to them, me, my brothers and sisters have grown up listening to Armenian music. When the choir was founded 40 years ago, our family with 10 members became a part of the choir. Today I’m the sole representative of the Minasan family in the choir. It’ a fact that our culture is alive in the Diaspora, in France especially. If I was in Armenia, I would have been the student of Badalyan or Ruben, Hovhannisyan, and maybe would have become a singer. I think the choir is a way to preserve our identity, which I find very important and emphasise its importance especially in Diaspora. It’s amazing for humans to have various colors of culture. I think it’s a wealth for humans, for me, otherwise life would be so boring and monotone for people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *