Sibil’s Armenian songs echo on Istanbul’s İstiklal

Young Armenian artist Sibil’s album is on the market. In the album she is accompanied by leading Turkish artists. Sufi music master Mercan Dede performed the most beloved song of the Armenian world, Giligya, with his reed flute and was accompanied by zither virtuoso Göksel Baktagir. Cenk Taşkan (Majak Toşikyan), who has produced legendary Turkish pop music songs, arranged the album. ‘Turkey is progressing so fast. It is unbelievable that an Armenian album is played on the streets,’ Sibil says

Sibil is accompanied by reed flute master Mercan Dede and zither master Göksel Baktagir on her album. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

One of the most successful names of Sufi music in Turkey, Mercan Dede, has made the dreams of an Armenian artist come true. In recent days, an impressive sound has been heard in the music markets on İstiklal Avenue. Some think this different language is Kurdish or Laz, but actually the songs are Armenian.

Armenian artist Sibil’s album, on the Ossi Music label, is an example of solidarity between Turkish, Armenian, Greek and diaspora Armenian artists. Sibil is accompanied by Mercan Dede with his reed flute and Göktel Baktagir with his zither. Greek artist Petro has made a first by performing Armenian music legend Gomidas’ song “Der Voğormya” (God Mercy Us) in Turkish style. Jimmy Philipossian from the diaspora is on the album with his lyrics. Majak Toşikyan, who is known as Cenk Taşkan and has made legendary Turkish pop music since the 1970s, arranged the album.

“My dreams have come true thanks to this album,” said Sibil, speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review. She said that while she was a child her mother warned her not to speak Armenian on the street. “I discovered Armenian music at the age of 14 with a cassette from abroad. I cried for hours when I listened to the first Armenian song. We were not able to express our identity freely in those years.”

Sibil said she believed Turkey was democratizing fast. “We left all those hard years behind. I can make an Armenian album and it is played on the street, it is unbelievable.”

Very hard times

Although she has had great interest in music since her childhood, Sibil did not get a conservatory education. “My family hesitated to send me to conservatory because of my identity. I had very hard times. Even though I did not attend conservatory, music has become a part of my life.”

Soprano Sibil, who is known for her successful solos in the Armenian society, said she owed her voice to Armenian church choirs in Istanbul. “Even though it is called church choir, each Armenian child gets serious music education in these choirs and improves their voice. The choir has given many things to me, but I always loved popular music.”

Mercan Dede finds Sibil

Sibil’s dreams came true thanks to a coincidence. The Surp Vartananz Armenian Choir, of which she is a member, shared the stage with Turkish pop music stars Nükhet Duru and Sezen Aksu in the mid-2000s. These concerts drew great attention from the Turkish media. Sibil accompanied the two artists on stage in both concerts. Later on the concerts were released on CD.

“How could I know that this CD would be a turning point in my life?” Sibil said. “In 2006, Mercan Dede was expected to give a concert in a cathedral in Paris. When an Armenian choir quit the concert at the last minute, he remembered and found me. It was unbelievable that I took the stage in this concert as a big coincidence.

“I have never dreamed of releasing a CD one day with such big artists, but it is real now. I will always appreciate all of them.” They came together and gave life to Armenian music with me. Also, Mercan Dede accompanied the most beloved song of the Armenian world, Giligya, with his reed flute. In the album listeners will find the harmony of Turkish and Armenian motifs.”

‘I fear the dream will end’

Sibil, who has been working in the financial sector for many years, explained how she felt when she heard her own voice on the streets. “I feel like I am in a dream, I fear that the dream will come to an end when I wake up.”

Sibil said her friends at work gave her an unforgettable surprise when her album was released. “Everyone had my album on their desk and were listening to my songs. I returned to my childhood, to those days when I could not tell my name freely. I was really affected.”

“We came together in this album for a common goal and gave life to Armenian songs,” she said. “I want all my songs to reach all around Turkey.”

Sibil’s album will be released in Europe and the U.S. in the coming days.

VERCİHAN ZİFLİOĞLU

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