Chakmakjian was born in Adana, later becoming Professor at Tufts University in the U.S.A. He wrote and published the first Armenian-English dictionary.
At a ceremony on a hilltop overlooking Adana (Hovhaness revered mountains and high places as symbolic meeting grounds between man and God,) a container holding a copy of Hovhaness' own recording conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in his Symphony No. 11, "All Men are Brothers," an Armenian pomegranate, and a Turkish "eye" was buried.
All present pledged themselves to peace, understanding, and brotherhood among all nations and all peoples.
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Below, is the heartening exchange of correspondance (quoted with permission,) between Tugrul Gogus, Director of the Cukurova Music Festival in Adana, and Alexan Zakyan, Coordinator of the Alan Hovhaness International Research Centre in Yerevan:
Dear Mr. Alexan Zakyan; As you know, at Adana we (Cukurova Music Friends Association) realized the third international music festival and Mr. Berkofsky was our visitor again. He has given two wonderful concerts both in Mersin and Adana. Mr. Berkofsky gave his concert on the third day of the festival and his programme was combined with Chopin, Schubert, Liszt musics and also at the first half of the concert he played one of the musics of Armenian composer Alan Hovhaness: "Dawn on the Mountain of Initiation, Op. 303" and while listening this music -as always- I felt the Turkish and Armenian musics are very close to each other... I suddenly saw that the musics of two nations are coming from the same roots and this music is calling two nations to be brothers and peace. I was very happy to listen Mr. Hovhaness's music and I took a photocopy of this music from Mr. Berkofsky.
Mr. Berkofsky also gave a master class to the piano students of the Adana conservatory and on the third day just after the last student finished his playing all the students who took place at the master course, Mr. Berkofsky, piano teachers of the Adana conservatory and me went to the top of a hill which looks directly to the Adana city and made a little ceremony to show our respects to the persons who creates music for the peace, humanity and brotherhood. At this ceremony a CD of Mr. Hovhaness put down to the ground with the symbols which shows Turkey and Armenia and Mr. Berkofsky had a little speech to the students about the importance of peace in the world. It was almost dark and we had to turn back.
After this ceremony we met with Mr. Berkofsky at the dinner. Everybody was very happy and full of energy for looking towards. We decided to realize our best for the future. On that night Mr. Berkofsky went back to US and the other day we opened our eyes to a world which was full of sun and lights. I only wanted to share my feelings and ideas with you. Please give our best wishes to all your friends.
Thank you so much for your email. I am happy that in Turkey are people like you and we have much to do for bringing peace to our nations. We are open to cooperate and I think that the music is the best friend for this.
Best Regards, Alexan
IHSAN TOKSOZ FROM MERSIN, TURKEY WRITES:
(Quoted with permission.)
Firstly, I am touched with your news about the honouring ceremony for Mr. Haroutioun Chakmakjian, an Adana born Armenian and father of composer Alan Hovhaness.
That is only expected from a responsibly conscious artist like you who dedicates himself for establishing peace and friendship amongst people/nations through his music.
The symbols buried down during this ceremony are well chosen.
1- Alan Hovhaness's own recording of his Symphony no. 11, titled " All Men are Brothers " reminds us our one and only roots which is long forgotten. 2- A Pomegranate calls for; "we" are not alone. 3- Turkish "eye" which is called " Nazarlik " - i.e. a talisman against Devil Eyes, is marking a good will.
I recall from history that there were many Armenian composers who created landmarks in the Turkish Classical Music. There were many Armenian architects who contributed to the Turkish architectural development with their magnificient buildings. Last but not the least, there were many Armenian statesmen who served in government in very high ranks and held important posts etc.
Turks and Armenians lived for centuries together in peace. We, the sons of our past generation and our grandchildren deserve to live in peace too.
Hence, I personally believe that this ceremony is a very important event.
Secondly, I am equally moved by the contents of the letter written by Mr. Tugrul Gogus addressed to Mr. Alexan Zakyan and the heartening reply of the latter. I fully agree with Mr. Gogus that Alan Hovhaness's music has many 'Turkish' reminiscences. It appeals to the Turkish Ear easily and captures the audience at once. That is what happened in the Mersin recital. We do wish to hear more and more of this composer in future from you and from your students.
Lastly, I request you to convey my kind regards to Mr. Alexan Zakyan and tell him that; There are many people in Turkey who are alike Mr. Gogus who are expecting an echo from Armenia.
'We' - the people who are taking sides with world peace and friendship, are not alone like the grains of a pomegranate, Under the aegis of symbolic Turkish 'eye' Nazarlik ,Turkish-Armenian relations shall prosper as ever. The music of Alan Hovhaness's music shall serve as an initial media to bring our nations together again.
With my best wishes..
REPLY FROM ALEXAN ZAKYAN, YEREVAN, ARMENIA:
(Quoted with permission.)
Dear Ihsan Toksoz,
Thank you for your email. Now our two nations need more peace then ever.
I am so thankful to Mr. Berkofsky for his great heart and because of him we made a small bridge. And I hope that if we will cooperate more this bridge will be as much strong that will help our Governments to find a way of reconciliation.
From our side we are open to discuss any kind of projects which will help to this.
FURTHER FROM IHSAN TOKSOZ
(Quoted with permission.)
Dear Mr. Alexan Zakyan,
Thank you very much for your message.
Under the initiation of Mr. Martin Berkofsky and with a few exchange of messages amongst us, I believe that we have already carved a niche of goodwill mission to create a base to spead peace amongst our two nations. This is, however placing a great load of responsibility on our shoulders.
Although we are numbered on this planet by a gang of irresponsible men, our strength shall be culminated in by uniting hands to arrange reciprocal musical performances between Turkey and Armenia. Nevertheless, we should not be discouraged if there are some prejudicial hinderances.
I will spread the news of our correspondance amongst my friends who can support us. Let us do our best to realize this mission.
I hereby cite a sentence from a learned Indian gentleman whom I take pride to know personally.
" When power leads man towards arrogance, the arts remind him of his limitations.
When power narrows the areas of man's concern, art reminds him the richness and diversity of his existence.
When power corrupts, art cleanses and establishes the basic human truths which serve as the touchstone of judgement. "
S. S. KANORIA from his foreword to the book titled; Rasa - The Indian Performing Arts in the last 25 years, Volume 1. Published by Anamika Kala Sangam Research and Publications, Calcutta, 1995
1: Martin Berkofsky, faculty and students from the Adana State Conservatory. The "All Men are Brothers" compact disc.
2: Adana State Conservatory student symbolically ties together and unites Turkish and Armenian symbols.
3: View from the hillside overlooking Adana. The sealed container holding the pomegranate, nazarlik, and "All Men are Brothers" compact disc was consecrated and buried here.