Kardeş Türküler (Brotherly Songs): Through the Fraternity of Ballads to the Fraternity of Peoples
In the 1990s, when the Middle Eastern region was fully engaged in wars (wars between Armenians and Azerbaijanis in Nagorno-Karabakh; between Kurds and Turks in the Eastern Anatolia) a group of students from Bosphorus University of Istanbul organized a concert titled Kardeş Türküler (“Ballads of fraternity” or “Brotherly songs”). They were performing folk songs of the warring people, in that way demonstrating their attitude: say no to war, say no to hostility; the nations of Anatolia should live in peace and harmony.
The students decide not to limit themselves to one concert. Soon they organize a self-titled musical group Kardeş Türküler. Promoting the ideas of brotherhood, the group releases a Turkish-Kurdish video Kara Üzüm Habbesi, which was vigorously discussed by the Turkish mass-media. The video was not screened on the national channels as it contradicted the state ideology. With the development, the repertoire of the group replenished by new folk songs from different regions such as Anatolia, Thrace, Mesopotamia. Up to now they have performed songs in more than twenty languages: Armenian, Turkish, Kurdish, Laz, Georgian, Greek, Arabic, Chechen languages, etc.
Since the beginning of the creation (1994) Kardeş Türküler has given more than 130 concerts. The group actively travels around the European countries and makes collaborations with famous musicians. In Turkey, the group played with the Armenian duduk player Djivan Gasparyan. In 2006 they organized a big show; more than 140 people at the same time were singing and dancing on the same stage. It was a real “celebration of diversity” and a clarion call for solidarity.
In 2008, for the first time, the group Kardeş Türküler performed in Armenia together with the Sayat Nova Choir of Istanbul. The Vanadzor and Yerevan city residents greeted songs in Azerbaijani as well as in Kurdish and Greek. As the members of the group mention, they were organizing the trip a long time ago, but the main impetus was Hrant Dink’s (an Armenian activist, an editor-in-chief of the Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos) killing, which was a real shock for the Turkish society.
The memory of Hrant Dink – a brave and honest man who was struggling for the rights of Armenians and Turks to live in a fair country – brought together the musicians of Kardeş Türküler and Arto Tuncboyaciyan, a Grammy and World Music Award winning musician of Armenian descent. Collaboration ideas and projects with Arto emerged during Dink’s wake, 40 days after his death. The musicians started performing together and in 2011 released their first joint album Çocuk Haklı. This is а bold and strong album which sheds light on many socio-political issues. As the representatives of Kardeş Türküler mention, Arto’s appearance did embolden them to produce the album. In the album, you can find a song based on Hovhannes Tumanyan’s poem 'Old blessing' (Հին Օրհնություն) translated into Turkish; songs written by Arto Tuncboyaciyan himself and songs written by Ara Dinkjian, an Armenian musician and an oud player.
The last album of Kardeş Türküler released in 2017 and is available on YouTube.
The acknowledgment of Kardeş Türküler is not only due to their firm civil stance, idea of brotherhood and songs about ethnic and cultural diversities. Professional musicians of different nationalities – this is the main distinguishing feature of the group. As students of the Department of Folklore, they manage to turn the sole song into the big musical performance, accompanied by folk musical instruments and beautiful voice. Thanks to Kardeş Türküler many Armenians (and not only them) became a part of their own musical heritage, which had not been introduced in that manner before.
Here is the list of Armenian songs, performed by the group:
The album B.G.S.T. (1997)
❖ Gorani Traditional (Daron) with poem by Jivani
❖ Dıle Yaman Traditional (Van) with poem by Jivani, compiled by Gomidas Vartabed
❖ Sari Gyalin Traditional (Erzurum)
❖ Zepür Gı Tarnam lyrics & music by Kusan Shahen
The album Doğu (1999)
❖ Bingöl Traditional lyrics by: Avedik İsahakyan
❖ Haynırına Traditional (Sasun) with poem from 'Anush' by Hovhannes Tumanyan
The album Hemavaz (2002)
❖ Cukhdag Mom Traditional by Garo Çalıkyan
❖ Voghperk (Adana) by Eghishe Charents
The album Vizontele (2001)
❖ Serabî lyrics by Pakrat Estukyan, music by Vedat
The album Bahar (2006)
❖ Gançum em Ari Ari, source: Tatul Altunyan
❖ Es Kişer Hampartzum e/Bugün Bayram Günüdür (Diyarbakır)
The album Çocuk Haklı (2011)
❖ Haydo by Arto
The album Yol (Road) (2017)
❖ Hanane Traditional (Geleneksel/Kars)
Translated Manan Ajamyan