HACKENSACK, N.J. — In 2010, a young singer in an Armenian Church choir named Sibil captured the attention and hearts of Turkey’s population. The headlines read “For the first time an Armenian singer is being heard in the streets of Istanbul.”
Sibil and her sister, Garin, were born in Istanbul with a family name that was changed from Torosyan to Pektorosoglu. She was named after the well-known Armenian writer Zabelle Asadour, whose penname was Sibil. Her father, Garbis, a goldsmith, was born in Istanbul while her mother, Mari, has a Sepastatsi/Tokatsi background.
The first music notes that Sibil was exposed to were the prayers and hymns of the Armenian Church, since her father would take her to church every Sunday morning as a child. Her talent and love for music were discovered by her parents when Sibil would come home and sing and recite the prayers she had just heard during the church services. However, the opportunities were not there for young Sibil to develop a strong foundation in music.
Sibil attended Mihitaryan elementary school in Istanbul and then studied finance. Currently, she works in a financial institution. But her passion for music never faded. Since1991 she has been a member and lead soloist of St. Vartanantz Choir in Istanbul. Her break came in 1999 when she appeared on stage in the production of Dikran Chookhajian’s musical comedy “Leblebiji,” which was sponsored at the time by the Istanbul Esayan Alumni. It was in that production that she met one of Istanbul’s most respected modern-day composers and musicians, Majak Tosikyan. Tosikyan composed several songs and Sibil sang these songs in such inspiring ways that she became his best Armenian music interpreter.
In 2010, Sibil realized her lifelong dream — her CD was released with 11 songs, produced with the help of Armenian, Greek and Turkish artists. The songs Namag, Desnem Ani’n oo Nor Mernem, Giligya, Im Anoush Davigh, Oror, Hisus, Der Voghormia, Tzarav Seri, Gyanki mi Hamar,Siro Tzayni and Nayem were echoed through the streets of Istanbul. People liked what they heard.
Sibil’s voice continued to ring on the Armenian stage in Istanbul, in the Armenian churches as well as in the Holy Cross Armenian Church on the Island of Akhtamar. Some of Sibil’s songs were released as videos and attracted thousands of Turkish and Armenian fans. Turkey’s leading private TV channels as well as the country’s state-run broadcaster have broken new ground in airing Armenian music videos on popular stations for the first time in Turkey’s history. Sibil’s videos appeared also on YouTube exposing her unique voice and style to a larger audience all over the world.
In summer 2011, Sibil was invited to Armenia to sing at the opening and closing ceremonies of the Pan Armenian Games. That performance was carried live on Armenian TV and was watched throughout the communities of the Armenian Diaspora.
On March 31, Sibil will make her debut in the New York Metropolitan Area. She will perform at the Bergen County Academies in Hackensack. The evening is being sponsored by Constantinople Armenian Relief Society (CARS). Co-chairs of the event are Tamar Kayserian and Hilda Nisanyan. “It is a major undertaking that requires a lot of organization and planning. That evening, Sibil will be accompanied on stage by musicians both from Turkey and the United States. “Members of the Shushi Dance Ensemble will also appear on the stage to interpret the songs through dance and to enrich the evening’s program,” said Kayserian, president of CARS. “Bergen County Academies’ Auditorium has 1,192 seats and we are confident that we will have a sold-out evening.”
Tickets are priced at $50, $35 and $25 and can be secured by calling members of the organizing committee.