Haroutioun Chakmakjian was the father of Alan Hovhaness. He was born in Adana, Turkey, (his death certificate from the state of Massachusetts cites Adana, Armenia,) and by a circuitous route through Lebanan, surviving the shipwreck of the S.S. Poseidon, arrived penniless in Boston. Despite years of the worst kind of deprivation, he graduated Harvard University, became a Professor at Tufts University, an editor for the Armenian Hairenik newpaper, and author of a number of books including the first Armenian-English dictionary.
It was my thought upon returning to Adana, Haroutioun Chakmakjian's birthplace, to honour this gentleman who had done so much with so little. I had been giving days of piano master classes at the Cukurova University State Music Conservatory and asked my colleagues-fellow music teachers-and the piano students if they would like to join me in a small ceremony.
We found a hilltop overlooking Adana, gathered together and spoke about the importance of peace in the world, and prepared to seal a container symbolically holding a recording of Alan Hovhaness conducting his own Symphony No. 11, "All Men are Brothers," a small Armenian pomegranate-the national symbol-and a Turkish nazarlik-a talisman to bring good luck, to bury in the ground.
One young student from the class noticed that both the pomegranate and the nazarlik had decorative strings attached to them. She tied the strings together. "This means that we will all work together."
Should we issue Alan Hovhaness' 11th Symphony, "All Men are Brothers," a pomegranate, and a nazarlik to all the world's leaders asking them please to tie the strings together?