FCG Section: Armenian Communities

Summer Garden Festivities

Armenian Culture in Portugal: “Postcards” from the Gulbenkian Foundation

The Armenian legacy of Mr. Calouste Gulbenkian will be highlighted during the 60-year commemoration activities of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, starting with the Summer Garden (Jardim de Verão) festivities. During 10 days, the Armenian Communities Department will, once again, introduce Armenian culture and history to the Portuguese audience with a total of 17 events which include concerts, workshops, a film screening and two round-tables.

The Armenian component is part of a broader series of activities including various elements of the Foundation, notably the Music Department, Portuguese Language and Culture Program, the Museum and others.


June 24

Armenian events start on the 24th of June with a dance performance: 1001 voyages: Armenian Dances with Shakeh and Dellalian Trio. It tells the story of the Armenian Diaspora through music and dance. During the first half of the program, dancer Shakeh Major Tchilingirian performs a series of solos accompanied by the Trio Dellalian.  During the second half of the performance, Shakeh invites the audience to join in the “Circle of Life,” to complete the evening with two traditional Armenian dances.


June 25 and 26

Nina Grigoryan runs two workshops entitled Drawing Music. By combining Armenian music with drawing, the workshop aims to spark interest in the creative arts. The June 25 workshop (Saturday) is directed to participants over sixteen years of age, and is conducted in English. The June 26 (Sunday) workshop is for children between the ages of six and fourteen, and it is in Portuguese. Participants have the unique opportunity to the transform emotions triggered by music into an explosion of color!


June 27

With an extensive history and a rich culture, Armenians are dispersed around the world. Armenia became independent from the Soviet Union in 1991. The Republic continues to face a series of challenges stemming from the post-Soviet context. This conversation debates some of the central features of the history and culture of Armenia, highlighting the efforts made by the Armenian Diaspora in the preservation and advancement of the language and identity. Calouste Gulbenkian was himself an Armenian from Istanbul. But just what does it mean “to be Armenian” in early 21st century? These and other questions are discussed during the roundtable Conversations on Armenian History and Culture, on the 27th of June. Moderated by António Loja Neves, with the participation of Marc Nichanian, Licínia Simão and Razmik Panossian.

The day ends with a duduk concert, highlighting the wealth of Armenian musical culture and introducing its incomparable sonority now known worldwide. Duduk Concert: Ode to Nairi is performed by Aram Ipekdjian (duduk) and Irma Toudjian (piano). The concert includes duduk solos and duduk accompanied by piano. It draws from religious, medieval and traditional Armenian music.


June 29

The lecture Armenians and Rug Weaving: A Passion of Three Millennia, on June 29th, is to be delivered by Dickran Kouymjian. It highlights the fundamental role of the Armenian craftsman in weaving in Asia Minor, until the Genocide of 1915-1916 put a dramatic halt to this millennia old craft among Armenians. This lecture is organized as part of the Kum Kapi: Travelling Carpets exhibition organized by the Gulbenkian Museum and supported by the Armenian Communities Department.


June 30

The evening of the 30th of June is once again dedicated to the art of dancing where Mihran Tomasyan and Saro Usta perform together for the first time in Portugal. The SAR Dance is a performance by two friends, who grew up together in the neighborhood of Kurtuluş in Istanbul, as part of the same culture. Now in their thirties, with identities incorporating the way they listen, walk and dance, they bring together their memories and observations to use music, movement and paper to explore their dreams, challenge change and ask questions about their future. Many of their answers prove to be different.


July 1

The 1st of July is a day devoted to modal singing. Aram and Virginia Kerovpyan host A Voyage through Sounds: Armenian modal song workshop and introduce participants to modal song as practiced within the Armenian tradition, through both vocal preparation and learning of Armenian liturgical song. They invite all the participants to sing! The results of this learning process are presented in an evening concert with the Akn Ensemble on the same day.


The film Singing in Exile by Salvatore Finocchiaro and Nathalie Rossetti is screened for the first time in Portugal. The film follows Aram and Virginia Kerovpyan, with their family, as they take a group of young European actors and the director Jaroslaw Fret, from the Grotowski de Wroclaw Institute, on a voyage that immerses them into places in Turkey where modal liturgical song tradition once existed. It is a heritage that stretches back to the 5th century but currently at the risk of disappearing. As such, an ancient tradition becomes a language of creation and sharing – it becomes a breath of life.

The day ends on a very different musical note: a jazz concert by Tigran Hamasyan! An out-of-the-ordinary pianist, Hamasyan’s music has varied influences, including Armenian folk, rock, electro and poetry, not to mention his studies in classical and jazz music. In the last ten years, following the launch of four critically acclaimed albums, he has been praised by such renowned figures as Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Brad Mehldau.


July 2

The Armenian String Quartet, composed of Artur Mouradian, Hrayr Karapetyan, Sevak Avanesyan and Hrachya Avanesyan, offers the opportunity to learn in a fun and interactive way during a lunchtime concert about instruments and composers, through the compositions of Mozart (Eine Kleine Nachtmusik), Beethoven (Minuet), Saint Saens (Carnival des Animaux), Komitas/Aslamazyan (Armenian Folk Miniatures), G. Bizet (Carmen) and Carlos Gardel (Tangos de Buenos Aires).

It is followed by the workshop Armenian Heritage and Culture, hosted by Houshamadian group members, Vahe Tachjian, Shogher Margossian and Movses Der Kevorkian. This workshop initiates a dynamic debate with the public about historical objects, such as a photo, a letter or even a cooking utensil, and challenges participants to convey a story based on the object. A collective musical exercise is part of the workshop, based on an ancient Armenian song passed down from generation to generation – with lots of clapping and singing! Finally there is a culinary demonstration where participates learn how to make the traditional dish Ich.

Collectif Medz Bazar goes on the stage next, with a thunderous concert. This musical collective represents a harmonious union of tempered instruments (with a fixed sound) and musical works based on the modal tradition while interweaving the percussion instruments of the Middle East with Parisian voices from diverse origins (Armenian, Turkish, Franco-American), while seeking inspiration in the folk music of Asia Minor and Iran, in the rhythms of Thrace, in Venezuelan music, in hip-hop, jazz and bluegrass… Expect to be on your feet to dance!



July 3

The last day starts with another outdoor lunchtime concert of the Armenian String Quartet. This time Artur Mouradian, Hrayr Karapetyan, Sevak Avanesyan and Hrachya Avanesyan, play String Quartet n.º2 of A. Borodin and Armenian Folk Miniatures of Komitas/Aslamazyan.

The concert is followed by a children’s workshop hosted by Maral Kerovpyan and Ana Madureira, based on the popular book Who Are the Armenians? (Available in Portuguese in the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation bookstore). The audience discovers the Armenian language and music through games and songs, exploring the Armenian alphabet to learn how to write their names, drawing captivating bird-letters and learning some dances.

Collectif Medz Bazar closes the Armenian component of the festivities with a second outdoor concert, just because one would not be enough!

To learn more details about the Summer Garden Festivities please click here: gulbenkian.pt/en/jardim-de-verao