2019-03-13 / Front Page

Memories Of Oud Music At Armenian Church Of The Holy Martyrs

By Catherine Tsounis

John Tarpinian played a classic oud created in Turkey with John Malool on his grandfather’s 136-year-old tambourine.


John Tarpinian played a classic oud created in Turkey with John Malool on his grandfather’s 136-year-old tambourine. The oud is sacred to Armenians. It is the classic Armenian instrument: the instrument that everyone respected, admired and to which the most direct and special attention was paid by musicians and non-musicians alike. The oud commands a higher respect, symbolizing a piece of Anatolia that is lost. The oud stands for one of the few relics that is sustained in a new American environment.

On February 27th, the Women’s Guild of the Armenian Holy Martyrs’ Church in Bayside presented the finest traditional Armenian musicians in the United States in a special musical presentation. John Tarpinian played the classic oud that was created in Turkey, with John Malool on his grandfather’s 136-year-old tambourine. The demonstration of the instrument gave us a glimpse of “Lost Armenia.”

Tarpinian explained, “This is a 1969 Onnik Karibyan oud. It was George Ketigian Sr.’s oud Rev. Fr. Abraham Malkhasyan with oud player John Tarpinian.
Rev. Fr. Abraham Malkhasyan with oud player John Tarpinian. given to me by his children. Our families were very close, and I was deeply moved when son George and daughter Karen gave me their father’s oud. Uncle George, as I always called him, would have enjoyed hearing his oud being played this day for the Women’s Guild.”

I was mesmerized by the song ”Soodeh, Soodeh.” My late father played this song every Sunday from a Gus Vali album for hours, saying “my Greek mother from Tseme played this music.” At all the St. Demetrios School of Astoria PTA dances of the late 1950s and 1960’s, the George Stratis Band played this song. The builders of St. Demetrios School, under the leadership of Rev. Demetrios Frangos, were from Greek Anatolia and Aegean islands, WWII veterans and children of immigrants who wanted to remember their roots. Now in 2019, I discovered, at this Women’s Guild meeting, that all my life I was listening to the Armenian music of Anatolia.

For more information on oud music, visit John Tarpinian on Facebook and email John Malool at fdrp30@yahoo.com.

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