Displacement and dispersion loom large in the Armenian collective memory, as seen through their music and the work of the composer and musicologist Komitas. A longing to reclaim elements of lost culture pervades the Armenian diaspora, where Home is reconstituted in exile.
In response to the notion of a reclaiming of culture, Joseph Bohigian moved to Armenia to compose a piece titled “The Water Has Found its Crack,” tracing displacement, dispersion, and reclamation in Armenian music in order to explore the ways these three elements affect the negotiation of internal and external identity boundaries in diaspora. Bohigian will perform this piece at 7 p.m. Friday, February 19 on Zoom.
The idea of the water finding its crack is represented in the text of the composition, which comes from fragments of Armenian folk songs referencing water. In the piece, Bohigian reflects on the centrality of displacement in Armenian culture in a quasi-folk song. The fluidity of dispersion manifests in lingering sliding tones which push at the boundaries of the traditional pitch-structure of Armenian music. The reunion of reclamation comes through an abstraction of sacred chant. These negotiations of identity boundaries are a central feature of identity maintenance for the dispersed, and thus the negotiation of fluid boundaries is an important part of music in search of Home. This is the story of Armenia. The story of an exiled people longing to be reunited – the story of the water finding its crack.
Bohigian is a composer and performer whose cross-cultural experience as an Armenian-American is a defining message in his music. His work explores the expression of exile, cultural reunification, and identity maintenance in diaspora. Bohigian’s works have been heard at the Oregon Bach Festival, June in Buffalo, Walt Disney Concert Hall, New Music on the Point Festival, TENOR Conference (Melbourne), and Aram Khachaturian Museum Hall performed by the Mivos Quartet, Decibel New Music, Great Noise Ensemble, Argus Quartet, and Fresno Summer Orchestra Academy.