The Lost Origin Sounds Series has released “Forty Martyrs: Armenian Chants from Aleppo at the centenary of the Armenian Genocide, the bloody Ottoman campaign that drove many Armenians to the centuries-old community in Aleppo, reports.
The video Forty Martyrs: Armenian Chanting from Aleppo presents a unique new recording of sacred Armenian music.
In one of Aleppo’s oldest neighborhoods rests a church, once a focal point and a haven. The head priest there, The Very Reverend Yeznig Zegchanian, agreed to chant, but he was going to do it now and he was only going to do it once. Jason Hamacher, a drummer from Washington DC who had developed a serious fascination with Syria’s endangered spiritual traditions, dashed back to his hotel to get his equipment.
The result, recorded in the resonant Forty Martyrs Armenian Orthodox Church, captures a time, place, and endangered language. The city is entrapped in Syria’s agonizing civil war. The church’s congregants, descendants of several waves of Armenian refugees, have been scattered throughout the region and beyond. The language of the chants, West Armenian, once spoken in what is now Turkey, seems destined to die out in a generation.