Directed by Agnieszka Piotrawska (written for BBC TV "40 minutes")
Unavailable for performance.
In the late summer of 1989, BBC director Agnieszka Piotrowska asked me to write a choral work to accompany her documentary about the way in which the Armenians were coming to terms with the effects of the earthquake which struck on 7th December 1988, killing over twenty five thousand people. When I agreed, I could not possibly have predicted the profound effect the process of composing and recording would have on me; from Agnieszka's choice of text - lines from the BOOK OF LAMENTATIONS by the 10th century Armenian poet, Grigor Narekatsi (which I have used in the odd-numbered section of five-section work), through to the recording which took place late into the night in the 4th century Echmiadzin Church, an hour's drive from Yerevan. I am especially grateful to the choir who learned a long and difficult work in an unreasonably short space of time and to their conductor Khoren Meykhanejian who has produced a performance of quite astounding beauty.
© Michael Nyman
THE FOLLOWING IS A PHONETIC RENDITION BY MARK SARAFYAN OF THE ARMENIAN TEXT, WITH A WORD-FOR-WORD ENGLISH TRANSLATION.
Yes ayn ka-ghak-nem / or chu-ni / voch pa-risp voch el dour,
(I the city am/ which has not/neither towers nor gates)
Yes ayn tou-ne-nem/ vor chu-ni/ dzm-ran voch mi o-jakh,
(I am the house am / which has not / in the winter not a hearth,)
Yes agh-byur-em dam, / an ogud dza-ra-vin,
(I the bitter am spring/useless for the parched,)
Yes mi ay-gi-em, / vor kho-ban e dar-tsadz,
( I a garden am/ dry and left uncared)
Yes mi arod-em, / ta-tas-khov khegh-dvadz,
(I a meadow am / weeds with choked)
Yes tso-re-ni art-nem ayt / voe Astvats / ir-ner ha-ma-rats,
(I the wheatfield am / which God/ intended for his own)
Bayts vori ho-ghu, / menk sa-ta-nan/ dagn-ou-vra a -rats
(But whose earth, / the wicked devil,/ turned upside down