Monday marked the 13th anniversary of the death of Aram Tigran, a beloved Armenian musician from the city of Qamishli in Syrian Kurdistan.
Tigran, also known as Apê Aram, ‘Aram Uncle’ in Kurdish, was born in 1934 in Qamishli. His family fled to Qamishli from Diyarbakır (Amed) to escape the 1915 Armenian Genocide, otherwise known as Medz Yeghern.
At nine years old Tigran had began learning the oud, an instrument similar to the lute. By the age of 20 Tigran was performing songs in Kurdish, Armenian and Arabic. He also played the cümbüş, an oud-like instrument, in a Kurdish folkloric style.
Tigran gave his first concert to mark Newroz, the Kurdish spring festival, in 1953 while he was still in Qamishli.
In 1966, the musician settled in the Armenian capital city of Yerevan, working for Radio Yerevan for eighteen years.
In 1995, Tigran moved to Athens and started to produce songs in Greek. During these years he also took part in Kurdish festivals in Turkey.
Tigran was hospitalised with heart disease in Athens in 2009 and died on 8 Aug the same year. Although he wanted to be buried in Diyarbakır, the Turkish government denied the request on the grounds that Tigran was not a Turkish citizen. Local government officials appointed by the Turkish government also shut down a conservatoire opened in Tigran’s name in Diyarbakır in 2016.
Tigran released 11 albums and recorded hundreds of songs in Kurmanji, Arabic, Assyrian and Greek. The German Kurdish institute carried out a project to restore his catalogue in 2021.