Asia Minor was a thriving cosmopolitan center for Hellenic life since ancient times. Port cities like Constantinople (Istanbul) and Smyrna (Izmir) had rich musical traditions that reflected their diverse populations: Greeks, Turks, Armenians, Arabs, Gypsies, Jews and Europeans.
But during the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Greece and Turkey went to war, leading to the genocide and expulsion of Greeks in what is known as the Asia Minor Catastrophe. In the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, Greece and Turkey resolved to end their disputes by making their nations ethnically and religiously “pure.” Greek Orthodox Christians living in Turkey were forced to move to Greece, and in turn Turkish Muslims in Greece were sent to live in Turkey. The resulting 1923 Population Exchange uprooted 1.6 million people across the region and is considered an act of ethnic cleansing.
A century later, the Greek Chamber Music Project commemorates this historical moment with songs and stories from Asia Minor leading up and in response to the population exchange. Titled Uproot, GCMP performs modern arrangements of Greek music from the region, celebrating this vibrant musical heritage and capturing the refugee experience through song. Uproot weaves histories and personal stories throughout, generating a universal dialogue about the impact of forced migration and building a bridge to the experience of modern-day refugees.