Black Winter 

(Sitwa Kooma)

Suite for Orchestra, choir and soloists

The Black Winter Suite is a collaboration between Assyrian poet Rabi Yosip Bet-Yosip and Composer Edwin Elieh. This suite was performed at the first annual Mesopotamian Night concert in Los Angeles, California in 2015. The Black Winter Suite was the featured theme for this concert in memory of the 100 year anniversary of the 1915 Assyrian Genocide.


Photoes Courtesy of Ashur Mansour –


Rabi Yosip was inspired to write this poem after his study and research of diaries written by Christian missionaries as well as memories of the true event that was told by individuals who survive the genocide of 1915. This poem that took the title “ The Assyrian Genocide of 20th Century”, reflects a barbaric genocide of Assyrian Christians by Muslim extremists, more like what Assyrian people are experiencing now in Iraq and Syria. They are pushed to either convert to Islam or die. Rabi Yosip masterfully describes the events of the genocide in such details that we can easily picture the events and feel the brutal outcome from a mass murder of an ethnicity.

A painting of Assyrian Genocide by Assyrian Artist,    Paul Batou

A painting of Assyrian Genocide by Assyrian Artist, Paul Batou


The Black Winter Suite consists of four movements that each describes a separate part of the story. First movement, “Sitwa Kooma (Black Winter)”, has a simple village-like theme that describes how people in a village of Urmie are happily prepared for the winter. They are going about daily life without knowing that the enemy is preparing his attack near the borders.

Pooqdana D’ Mota (Death Order) is the second movement that describes the anti-Christian forces are following their orders, attacking the village and brutally murdering defenseless, innocent people. This movement has a complex rhythmic part that describes the attack and is followed by a slow and tragic music for soloist that relates to the outcome of the attack.

Third movement of this suite is “Kwachta Janjiranta (Torturous Migration)” that describes the people who ran from the enemy toward mountains. This group of Assyrian suffered from cold winter of Urmie. Many of them died of hunger and diseases during their migration to a safer place. Music sets the scene of migration with choir and describes the harsh conditions of individuals in snowy mountains with solo parts.

Final movement is the conclusion of this true event. Raqa D’ La Praqa (Endless Escape) describes how Assyrian nation is never relived from migrating. Due to multiple genocides that took place on Assyrians, they lost two third of their population. As the choir sings the tragic music, we learn that the same story is repeating today for Assyrian nation.


Annabelle Beit, Carmen David, Maryam Kouchari, Frida Malekdavoud,Monika Malekdavoud, Neneveh Oksar, Rashel Pakbaz, Sabrina Sarkis, Joseph Dadashadeh, Daysan Bitmansour, Atibel Chalabi, Eilbron Baniadam, Eddie Baniadam, Willard Danilo, Julian Gigola, Mishel Lazar

Orchestra Conductor: John Kendal Bailey