Imagine stepping into the world of Armenian folk songs where a single gesture of yours can create music that speaks to the heart of every Armenian. Our alum Joseph (Joey) Bohigian, Ph.D., made it possible through his volunteering with Komitas Museum-Institute. This sound installation project is his initiative that he started with the Museum a year ago, but could not complete because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Joey returned this year to finally bring it to life.
Launching a Sound Installation Project
Stone Dreams is an interactive sound installation that includes recordings of songs documented by Mihran Toumajan, Komitas’ student, as part of the joint effort to preserve the remnants of oral literature surviving in the Armenian diaspora post-Genocide. Visitors can touch an amplified stone to bring forth fragments of these songs amidst the swirling sounds of scraping stones. With this project, Joey wanted to explore memory and discover how it is preserved when physical sites are destroyed and the memory has to be revived in a different context.
Could Joey predict this initiative before coming to Armenia? Maybe. One of the reasons why Joey decided to come volunteer in Armenia is to form relationships with local musicians. Why? Both to learn from them and share his knowledge and experience of music by volunteering in this field. Before coming to Armenia, Joey studied Music Composition at Stony Brook University and California State University Fresno. He has long been interested in researching the ways Armenian culture affects contemporary composers’ art in Armenia and the diaspora, and his time in Armenia provided critical insights on this topic relating to his own work.
He started his Journey in Armenia as a Volunteer
While here, Birthright Armenia offered him the option of volunteering at Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory, where he taught English to aspiring musicians. What's more exciting is that Joey conducted a laptop orchestra workshop--something new and innovative for the Conservatory. His second volunteer placement was at the Komitas Museum-Institute, where he was fully engaged in the ongoing work of the research department. The Stone Dreams installation is the most rewarding outcome of their collaboration which motivated Joey to return one year later, even as an alum, to finally launch the exposition.
His experience in Armenia helped Joey explore Armenian music, particularly the works of Komitas and his students, by liaising with local state institutions. We were beyond excited to meet Joey here in Armenia finalizing a major project that he started a year ago and is now finishing as an alum. There are so many projects that have yet to be launched – perhaps one of them is yours? Now is the time to apply since we are accepting applications for late 2021 and early 2022.