Bild 1 Ararat
Mount Ararat – not always so visible as in April 2016

Visit to Armenia 2016

Wiesbaden, May 2016 – From April 20 to 27, Muriel Mirak-Weissbach and her husband Michael Weissbach visited Armenia. They took part in the Aurora-Dialogues in Yerevan which dealt with the international refugee crisis, and in the awarding ceremony for the Aurora-Prize for Awakening Humanity (https://auroraprize.com/en/prize).
Bild 2 - Aurora

Marguerite Barankitse,
winner of the Aurora Prize
in recognition of her personal engagement
to aid civil war victims in Burundi

With this prize, individuals are honored who have dedicated their lives to humanitarian projects, often at great risk. On April 24, they were part of the delegation of the Aurora Conference which placed flowers at the Tsitsernakaberd monument for the victims of the 1915 genocide and visited the Genocide Museum.
Bild 3 - Mahnmal
Muriel Mirak-Weissbach at the Genocide memorial

Days earlier they had been to Gjumri and visited old friends from the Octet Music school there. Together with Alexan Ter-Minasyan, director of the Berlin Hotel in Gjumri, they went to the small village of Giusanagiuch, where artist Hakob Hovhanisyan has recently settled and has been giving painting lessons to children in the local school.
Bild 4 Malschule

Hakub, the painter,
with one of his most
active students

In Yerevan they had a packed schedule. At the music school named after Alexey Hekimyan, singer Lusine Arakelyan had organized a concert in the Weissbachs̕ honor, as a gesture of thanks for support she has received from the foundation. In the recital hall, filled to the last seat, students presented a wide selection of works showing the ambitious program of the school.

Bild 5 - Lusine-Konzert

In the school where Lusine Arakelyan teaches, a brass band welcomes the Weissbachs

Another special treat was a concert at the Anahit Tsitsikyan music school. With this concert students celebrated a donation from the Mirak-Weissbach Foundation for purchase of wind instruments, which had arrived at the school weeks earlier. The concert represented the public debut of some of the instruments. The principal of the school, Diana Hovhannisyan, as well as the Project Director of the fundraising campaign of Ayo!, said the instruments had provided a new burst of enthusiasm, commitment and joy for the students. (See report under Projects).

Bild 6 Anahit Tsitsikyan
Diana Hovhanisyan and Muriel Mirak-Weissbach with the new instruments

During her visit to the FAR Children’s Support Center in Yerevan, Mirak-Weissbach was able to see how efficiently donated funds had been deployed. This year, the sanitary facilities – bathrooms and shower stalls – were totally renovated. Several social workers and teachers from the center presented their activities, which they have carried out in a spirit of professionalism and love over years (See report under Projects) From the small village of Gegashen north of Yerevan, which has recently opened a cultural center with music school, the school’s principal, Mariam Kazaryan, came to Yerevan to meet the Weissbachs. Ms. Kazaryan, a pianist who graduated from the Yerevan Conservatory, gave an overview of her school’s programs. The 4 Euro monthly fee that students have to pay for lessons represents a sacrifice for many of the families of the low-income neighborhood. But children are flocking to the school, because of the great interest in music. The school has been newly furnished, but lacked a piano for public recitals and concerts. An instrument has been found, and for a good price. Ms. Kazaryan was delighted to hear that the Mirak-Weissbach Foundation would cover the cost of the piano. Soon thereafter, the sum had arrived and the piano was to be delivered by the end of May. (See report under Projects)

As a conclusion to their Armenia trip, the Weissbachs were received at the renowned Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory.

Bild 7 Konservatorium

Komitas Conservatory in Yerevan, entrance

Here they were able to witness the arrival of valuable musical scores from the estate of the Wiesbaden pianist and conductor Bernhard Scheidt, which were gratefully received. The long-term companion of Bernhard Scheidt, concert singer Sabine Meerwein, had arranged for this vast collection of scores, not only for piano but also complete concerto works, to be donated to the conservatory, through the mediation of the Mirak-Weissbach Foundation. The Rector of the Conservatory, Shahen Shahinyan, and Vice-Rector Professor Mher Navoyan, repeatedly stressed how valuable such a donation is for this institution. They pointed to the long tradition of German-Armenian relations in the field of music. In fact, the Conservatory’s namesake, Vardaped Komitas, had received a considerable part of his musical education in Berlin. Professor Navoyan indicated that the collection of scores would be housed in a section of the enormous library, which would be named after Bernhard Scheidt. (See report under Projects)
Bild 8 Nachlass Pr. NavoyanBild 9 Noten

Some of the music scores had to be rebound. Professor Navoyan shows his appreciation.