After months of preparation, the seminar officially began on Monday July 18, 2016 at the Center for Asia Minor studies, located in the charming Plaka district of Athens. During the first portion of the meeting, participants received formal welcome, introduction, and opening remarks from Professor Papademetriou, the Centre for Asia Minor Studies staff, and of course, where introduced to one another.
Shortly thereafter, students were received by Dr. Markos Dragoumis, a distinguished musicologist who has worked with the center for over sixty years. Appropriately, Dr. Dragoumis shared the rich history of the development and work of the Centre, highlighting the life, labor, and significant contributions of Mrs. Melpo Merlier to the corpus of knowledge within the disciplines of Ethnomusicology and Hellenic Studies.
As Mr. Dragoumis explained, the Centre for Asia Minor Studies, grew out of Madame Merlier’s aspiration to document the folk music of continental Greece and Asia Minor. While Melpo Merlie accomplished this, later, by way of correspondence with Oxford philologist Richard M. Dawkins, she embarked on a project that would become the oral history archive of the Centre and lead to the publication of scientific studies and monographs related to Asia Minor Greeks.
Following his talk on the historic formation of the Centre, Dr. Dragoumis selected a number of historical music recordings from the music archives, recorded under the supervision of Merlier herself, explained the various distinctions and pointed out unusual nuances peculiar to the various regions. Additionally, played high quality, contemporary recordings of the same pieces performed just as they would have at the time of recording in the early twentieth century.
After spending time with Dr. Dragoumis in the department of Ethnomusicology, the participants proceeded to a formal tour of the Centre, where they were shown the historic personal archive of Melpo and Octave Merlier that included their original furniture, library, and intimate personal effects. They also were taken to the subterranean storage facility that houses the vast quantity of handwritten oral history records which are stored in a highly organized and systematic manner.
Finally, Professor Papademetriou presented an interactive lecture that illustrated the history of Asia Minor from prehistory through the contemporary period using a series a cartographical depictions.