performed by Ensemble Decipher
Instrumentation: Laptop Ensemble
Premiere: December 7, 2018 - Ensemble Decipher - Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY
“Aylis is grey this time of year. Grey-colored mountains… Frozen stones, streets, houses hardly breathe in the cold awaiting the coming of spring. The Stone Church.”
“What was the reason, my God, that in Aylis, long-forgotten by you, your hills and your stones had come alive again?”
These quotes come from Akram Aylisli’s 2012 novel Stone Dreams. The novel caused an outrage in Aylisli’s home country of Azerbaijan due to his portrayal of pogroms against Armenians in Baku and Sumgait in 1988-90 and the massacre of the Armenian population of his home village Aylis in 1919. After its publication, Aylisli was denounced by the Azerbaijani government and protesters gathered in front of his house and publicly burned his books. This taboo subject matter was especially fraught given the ongoing conflict between Armenians and Azerbaijanis in Nagorno-Karabakh. The music combines the sound of stones, evoking the abandoned Armenian stone churches of Aylis, with Armenian and Azerbaijani versions of the same popular song, known as “Karoun Karoun” in Armenian and “Sana gurban” in Azerbaijani. The piece is a statement of solidarity with Aylisli in recognition that the region of the South Caucasus is a land shared by many peoples who deserve to coexist peacefully.