The Kotwica Band will perform a benefit concert for Armenian refugees from Artsakh at St. Saviour’s Episcopal Church in Bar Harbor, Maine, on November 26 at 2:00 p.m. The program will include Greek, Polish, Jewish, Macedonian, Ukrainian and Armenian folk music. Admission to the concert is free, but donations will be collected for the Armenian Relief Society. “Bar Harbor is a small town on Mount Desert Island with only three Armenians but has a long history of coming to the aid of our people,” said Carolyn Rapkievian, the concert’s organizer.
The Kotwica Band is led by David Rapkievian on oud, violin and balalaika and features Anne Tatgenhorst (who also directs the Maine Balkan Choir) on vocals, Kevin Stone on button accordion, Carolyn Rapkievian on guitar and percussion, David Quinby on double-bass, and vocalists Eloise Schultz and Francis Stockman.
Band leader David Rapkievian said, “Kotwica (Coat-veets-ah) means anchor in Polish – a cultural symbol of freedom and resistance and this theme resonates with our music.” The group plays music “from the Baltic to the Black Sea and Beyond”.
The concert will be live-streamed on the band’s website.
125 Years of Humanitarian Aid from a Small Corner of the U.S.
The citizens of Bar Harbor, Maine came to the aid of Armenians after the 1890s massacres and the 1915 Genocide.
In 1897, the Bar Harbor Record reported, “A most interesting lecture was given at the Congregational church by Rev. A. S. Abraham on the Armenian question. The church was filled, and the audience listened with rapt attention to the recitation of the wrongs done the race…The Junior Christian Endeavor Society gave a concert at the Congregational Church. The children gave a very pleasing entertainment, the proceeds of which $6.50 were devoted to the Armenian fund.”
In 1917, the Bar Harbor Times reported that the Congregational church donated $91.00 to Armenian relief, and the Sewing Circle voted to contribute their refreshment money. In 1919, the Sunday school “has actually decided to adopt one of these orphans by making a payment of $5 each month. Let every School in Hancock County do its bit and do its best.” – George S. Brookes, County Resident, January 4, 1919
Led by Henry Morgenthau Sr., the U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire (who later had a summer home in Bar Harbor), and Cleveland Dodge (whose family also summered in Bar Harbor), Americans would raise $116 million in funds and supplies, worth over $2 billion in today’s currency, to support Armenian refugees.