Concert: Return to Amasia
Our fourth and final virtual concert of this unique season shines a light on the Armenian genocide with Return to Amasia by American composer Eric Hachikian. During and after World War I, about one and a half million ethnic Armenians in Turkey and adjacent regions were systematically murdered or expelled by the Ottoman authorities. Hachikian is the grandson of survivors from the genocide and Return to Amasia is an intimate musical and visual account of his own journey to that city in in search of his roots. Parts of the music are adapted from Hachikian’s score for Voyage to Amasia, the feature-length documentary film that he produced. You’ll be able to view the complete film when we screen it online around the time of this concert.
The program’s three other works are also products of their composers’ own odysseys. Michel Michelet, born Mikhail Isaakovich Levin in Kiev, became a pioneering cinema composer in France with the introduction of sound film in the 1930s. After the German invasion he took his work to Hollywood, where his notable movie credits included several important films noirs. Paul Ben Haim was born Paul Frankenburger in Munich. At the onset of Nazi rule in 1933, he emigrated to Palestine and Hebraicized his name. As part of the young Israeli nation’s first generation of composers, he championed a specifically Jewish national music. Géza Frid, “that famous Hungarian Dutchman,” was born in a region of Hungary that is now part of Romania. Escaping poverty and rising antisemitism, he settled in the Netherlands in the late 1920s and established himself as a composer and pianist. As a stateless Jew during the German occupation he was unable to work, but miraculously escaped capture and deportation. During those years he organized clandestine concerts, and as part of the Dutch underground he helped forge identity cards and participated in an artists' resistance movement.
Michelet, Ben Haim and Frid are among those who survived, and they resumed distinguished musical lives for decades after the war. Their stories, like that of composer Eric Hachikian and the family he lovingly remembers, are testimony to the resilience of the creative spirit. In our concert, their music is brought to life by Music of Remembrance’s stellar performers, all drawn from the ranks of the Seattle Symphony: violinists Mikhail Shmidt and Natasha Bazhanov, violist Susan Gulkis Assadi, cellist Walter Gray, pianist Jessica Choe and harpist Valerie Muzzolini Gordon.
Mikhail Shmidt, violin; Natasha Bazhanov, violin; Susan Gulkis Assadi, viola;
Sarah Rommel, cello; Jessica Choe, piano
Podium Suite, Op. 3 (1928)
Mikhail Shmidt, violin; Jessica Choe, piano
Paul Ben Haim
Songs without Words (1952)
Susan Gulkis Assadi, viola; Valerie Muzzolini Gordon, harp
Return to Amasia (2020)
World Premiere Commissioned by Music of Remembrance
Artur Girsky, violin; Natasha Bazhanov, violin
Susan Gulkis Assadi, viola; Sarah Rommel, cello;
Special Thanks to our 2020-2021 Season Sponsor
The Powell Family Foundation