AGBU E-Newsletter No.28





AGBU Antranig Dance Ensemble Performs in Boston

Antranig_Dance_2008_01 AGBU’s Antranig Dance Ensemble performed at Boston University as part of the Boston University’s Armenian Students Association’s (ASA) cultural
event on Sunday afternoon, March 30, 2008.
Two hundred guests were in attendance at Boston University’s Tsai
Performance Center to watch the New Jersey-based AGBU Antranig Ensemble
perform under the artistic direction of Joyce Tamesian-Shenloogian.
Antranig, which consists of thirty members, performed fourteen dances
from various regions in Armenia, including “Hayastan,” “Haghtanak,” and
“Hemshen,” in traditional Armenian costumes.
“There were ethnographic dances, along with a mix of traditional,
contemporary, and lyrical dancing,” said Tamesian-Shenloogian, director
of Antranig for the past 22 years. “The performance was to celebrate and
preserve the Armenian culture.”
The Junior Choir of the Sts. Sahag and Mesrob Armenian Church of
Providence, Rhode Island also performed under the direction of Maestro
Konstantin Petrossian. Over 20 choir members sang twelve songs, and
authentic Armenian instruments, including the duduk (a double-reed
instrument) and dhol (a double-sided barrel drum), were used during the
choral performance.
“The cultural songs were augmented with English explanations of what the
songs meant and where they came from,” said Jacques Minoyan, Treasurer
of Boston University’s ASA.
Two ASA members, Cailyne Ghazarian and Jacques Minoyan, participated in
the cultural event as well, performing in the choir and dance ensemble,
respectively. In an attempt to bring Armenians together, the ASA hosts
both social and educational events, which attract Armenian students from
other universities in Boston, including Babson, Berklee, Boston College,
Harvard, MIT, Northeastern, Suffolk and Tufts.
The event, which was open to the entire school, attracted non-Armenians
to the cultural performance. “Non-Armenians were amazed as to how
distinct our culture is from the songs, dances and cultural clothing,”
said Minoyan. “It was a new experience for them.”
AGBU Antranig Dance Ensemble, which started in 1969, is gearing up for
its 40th-anniversary performance slated for sometime next year. Gagik
Karapetian, Antranig’s director from Armenia, will help
Tamesian-Shenloogian prepare for the show.
Antranig’s next performance will be at Columbia University on October 4,
2008 for a Columbia Armenian Club cultural event.
Established in 1906, AGBU ( is the world’s largest
non-profit Armenian organization. Headquartered in New York City with an
annual budget of $34 million, AGBU preserves and promotes the Armenian
identity and heritage through educational, cultural and humanitarian
programs, annually serving some 400,000 Armenians on six continents.

Three AGBU-supported Concerts Celebrate the Armenian Musical Heritage in Bulgaria

Bulgaria_April_Concert_01 During the month of April, the Bulgarian-Armenian community hosted a trio of concerts that celebrated the vitality of the Armenian musical
heritage across Bulgaria. From the AGBU Sofia Chamber Orchestra to the
AGBU Erebouni band of Plovdiv, the wealth and spectrum of
Bulgarian-Armenian talent impressed audiences across the country.
On April 6, a fundraising concert was held in the southeastern city of
Sliven to aid in the building of the St. Hagop Armenian Church complex
in neighboring Yambol, Bulgaria. Jointly organized by Sliven’s Armenian
Church Parish Council, AGBU Sliven and AGBU Plovdiv, the event showcased
musicians and speakers from Plovdiv, including Diana Manukyan, Tateos
Sandjakyan, the duo Anna and Suren Hanamiryan and the AGBU Erebouni
band, and Sliven, including the “Pretty Towngirls” from Drujba library,
Naiden Arsenyan and Hripsi Garabedyan.
Despite the poor weather conditions, the concert was sold out,
demonstrating the resiliency of Armenian music lovers. Official guests
at the event were Sonia Arshavir, Chairman of AGBU Yambol and the city’s
Armenian Parish Council; Edouard Arsenyan, Chairman of the Coordinating
Committee for Armenian organizations in Plovdiv and AGBU Plovdiv board
member; Georgi Zafirov, regional coordinator of PP Ataka and chairman of
the Yambol Regional Youth Committee for culture, religion and politics;
Chrastanka Shakliyan, deputy of the Bulgarian Democratic Party; and Ivan
Petrov, a local town councillor.
The concert concluded with a medley of popular Armenian tunes by the
AGBU Erebouni band, which performed under its artistic director Sona
On April 20, the AGBU Sofia Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of
conductor Bedros Papazyan, performed at the National Academy of Music.
The event was dedicated to both the 93rd anniversary of the Armenian
Genocide and the centennial of Bulgarian composer Marin Goleminov.
Papazian was a student of the esteemed Goleminov, and included in the
concert’s program was one of Goleminov’s most beloved works, “Five
Sketches,” for string orchestra.
Concertmaster Desislava Popova performed a solo piece, while harpist
Kohar Adonyan presented “Frescoes.” The concert also featured guest
violinist Vache Hoveyan, an alumnus of the Yerevan State Conservatory
and New York City’s Mannes College of Music. A winner of many
international prizes, Hoveyan has performed around the world and is
currently a professor at the Yerevan State Conservatory and founder of
the Aram Khachaturyan String Quartet. Accompanied by the AGBU Sofia
Chamber Orchestra, Hoveyan performed Hindemith’s “Mourning Music.”
Two young cellists, Dimitar Tenchev and Nikola Damyanov, also took to
the stage to deliver a riveting performance of Antonio Vivaldi’s
“Concerto for Two Cellos.”
The orchestra also played “Shushanik” by E. Mirzoyan, while the encore
performance of Komitas’ “Krunk” emotionally resonated with the capacity
The same day, AGBU Silistra organized a concert, entitled “Sunny Smiles
from Armenia,” at Silistra’s Dramatic Theatre Hall under the auspices of
the city’s mayor, Ivo Andonov. A longtime supporter of the local
Bulgarian-Armenian community, Mayor Andonov extended official
invitations for the event to various Armenian diplomats, including His
Excellency Sergey Manasaryan, Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia in
Bulgaria, and the Honorary Consul Ehiazar Uzunyan of the Republic of
Armenia in Plovdiv.
Other official guests at the April 20 performance were District Governor
Svetlana Velikova; Roupen Chavoushian, AGBU Plovdiv Chairman; Edouard
Arsenian, Plovdiv Coordinating Committee of Armenian Organizations
Chairman and AGBU Plovdiv committee member; and Arakel Kaprielyan, AGBU
Plovdiv committee member.
The event which was covered extensively by the local media, included
performances by a number of Plovdiv musicians, including the AGBU
Erebouni band and the duo of Anna and Suren Hanamiryan.
Roupen Chavoushian presented Mayor Andonov with a special award in
recognition of the mayor’s outstanding contribution in promoting and
preserving the Armenian culture in his municipality.
Established in 1906, AGBU ( is the world’s largest
non-profit Armenian organization. Headquartered in New York City with an
annual budget of $34 million, AGBU preserves and promotes the Armenian
identity and heritage through educational, cultural and humanitarian
programs, annually serving some 400,000 Armenians on six continents.
With reporting by Prof. Boyanka Arnaoudova in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Second Message of His Holiness KAREKIN II, Catholicos of All Armenians, To His Holiness BENEDICT XVI, Pope of the Catholic Church

Vatican City, 09 May 2008

Your Holiness, Dear Brother in Christ,

We express our greetings of brotherly love to Your Holiness, with a prayerful heart and a joyful soul. United in our joy today are the clergy and faithful sons and daughters of our Holy Church who have come together from throughout the world.

We offer gratitude to the Almighty in heaven, as successor to Saints Thaddeus and Bartholomew, and the saint co-equal to the apostles, Gregory the Illuminator, that we are enjoying the light of this good day when we exchange the divinely ordained kiss of peace with Your Holiness, worthy successor to the See of Saint Peter, seven years after experiencing the joy of receiving your predecessor of blessed memory under the gaze of biblical Mount Ararat. It is even more joyous that this kiss of peace is exchanged on this day, the 9th of May, when we are celebrating Victory and Peace Day in our homeland – the day which commemorates the conclusion of World War II – the cause of great human tragedy and misery; as well as the triumph of our people in the national liberation struggle for Mountainous Karabagh.

We come from an ancient land, where the first Christian state was born through the evangelization of the Holy Apostles, and where the faith was never vanquished. Our people bowed their heads and kneeled down before the divine love and hope of salvation, and overcame manifold difficulties and tragedies through the power of the Cross of Jesus Christ, believing that “…we suffer with Him, in order that we may also be glorified with Him.” Romans 8:17. Truly, our Christian history itself became like the life of Christ, and its pages are living readings of the Gospel.

Praise and thanks to God in heaven, that the testimony of fidelity on the part of our small nation, was crowned with victorious glory and worthily decorated our lives, making us God’s own people. Our nation became recipients of the Lord’s grace once again when the flag of independence was raised over our homeland. Through the light of the Savior’s resurrected life, our people – in spite of the ongoing illegal blockade by neighboring countries and countless external and internal challenges, are living in spiritual renaissance and with their new hopes of an indivisible life. Today, we have the happy opportunity to convey to Your Holiness the greetings and best wishes of the new president of the Republic of Armenia, Serzh Sargsian, who is investing his efforts to deliver the expectations of a better quality of life for our people, and to lead the country on the continued path of democracy and development. We also bring with us the greetings of all our sons and daughters, of a reinvigorated Diaspora, and of a free and self-determined Republic of Nagorno Karabagh, the international recognition of which shall be achieved, through the Will of God and the assistance of humanitarian and righteous governments.

Dear Brother in Christ, through the blessings of our Lord’s All-Provident Right Hand, we stand alongside one another today, to strengthen and testify to the fraternal love between our two Churches. Faithful to the holy Church fathers and their legacy, despite our differences and unique characteristics, we shall place greater importance on that which unites us. It is especially pleasing for us to confirm that the spirit of love and collaboration between the Armenian and Catholic Churches finds its tangible expressions in our time, confirming the words of the psalmist: “Behold how good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!” Psalms 133:1. Expressions of that fraternal and kind attitude can be found here in the Vatican itself, through the erection of the statue of the Illuminator of the Armenians – our patron Saint Gregory; and the naming of the plaza after the great saint, as well as the use of the Church of San Biagio, a historic site of prayer for Armenian pilgrims, made available once more to the Armenian community of Rome. We extend our thanks to you, and through you, to the Catholic Church, for the courtesies and assistance afforded to the Armenian people.

The love received from our Lord Jesus Christ bears much good fruit in the field of ecumenism today. We welcome the ongoing dialogue between the Catholic Church and the family of Ancient Oriental Orthodox Churches. In our present, fast-paced world where developments and changes rapidly occur, many environmental, social, political, economic, and moral issues urgently need attention, especially in the process of globalization, when true respect for life and man, and love for God, is diminishing. The greater consolidation of diligent efforts and partnership are an imperative for Christian Churches, because only through inclusive cooperation shall we be able to better serve the establishment of peace in the world and to better defend human rights, and the rights of nations, families, and those classes of society which are at-risk. The transfiguration of life through the values of the Gospel, shall be our path to the creation of a prosperous and virtuous world.

Dear Brother in Christ, our soul joyfully responds to your call to action directed to the entire globe during your most recent pontifical visit, exhorting all who yield power, that instead of confrontation, violence and war; religions, nations and governments should choose the paths of dialogue and mutual understanding.

Your vigilance aimed at strengthening Christian understanding, knowledge and instruction is dear to our hearts, as is your attentive care for educational institutions, so that the new generation of young men and women bear witness to our Lord Jesus Christ and Christian truths with a renewed spirit – through their actions, their deeds and their very lives. The plans and efforts of our Church are aimed at this same goal, where Your Holiness continues to support us, especially in the sphere of the preparation of clergymen. The spirit of fraternal love between the Armenian and Catholic Churches, and the results which we see today, encourage us to make our consolidated efforts more productive, for the sake of our one mission, whose guide and leader is Christ our Lord.

It is with this optimism that we greet all servants and laity of the Catholic Church and bring our commendation and blessings to Vatican State Secretary, His Eminence Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone; to His Eminence Walter Cardinal Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; to your nuncio in the Southern Caucasus, His Excellency Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, and to all those individuals through whose tireless efforts, bilateral relations between our two Churches and states continue to develop and progress with growing understanding and reciprocal respect.

As we conclude our remarks, we extend to Your Holiness our invitation and the invitation of the President of the Republic of Armenia, to visit Armenia and the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. We and all of our faithful people will always be happy to receive you in the spiritual center of all Armenians, where we shall offer our united prayers to our Lord heaven under the sacred arches of the Cathedral where Christ Himself descended.

We pray that Almighty God grant many years of unshaken pontifical reign to Your Holiness, to make manifest all your visions and aspirations for the vibrancy of the Catholic Church and her faithful sons and daughters.

We pray for our Lord Jesus Christ to keep and protect the entire world under His benevolent and watchful gaze, in love, solidarity, harmony and peace for His glory and for the welfare of mankind.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us and with all, now and always. Amen.

Message of His Holiness KAREKIN II, Catholicos of All Armenians, To the faithful during the meeting with His Holiness BENEDICT XVI, Pope of the Catholic Church

Vatican City, 07 May 2008
In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

We offer thanks to our Lord, Who gave us the opportunity through Your Holiness’ kind invitation to visit once more the eternal city of Rome and the Holy See of the Catholic Church. We have come from the spiritual center and headquarters of the Holy Armenian Apostolic Church – the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, with our high-ranking clergymen and our pious and worthy sons and daughters, and through our fraternal embrace with Your Holiness, we testify to the divinely ordained love between the Catholic and Armenian Churches, which “…is poured into our hearts, by the Holy Spirit who is given to us.” (Romans 5:5)

Dear Brother in Christ, today, on the threshold of the Feast of Pentecost, when we unite our prayers to those of Your Holiness and of your faithful sons and daughters, we praise and glorify the Holy Spirit, Who is the fountainhead of unity and transforms our steps on the paths of brotherhood with grace – steps which are for the glory of God and are born from the love of Christ, for the sake of establishing peace in the world and a blessed life for mankind. In spite of different historical experiences and paths we have traversed; in spite of dogmatic and cultural divergences, we are all children of the one God, and we are all brothers and sisters in His Holy love. For in our diversity, it is our unity of love that is the genuine testimony that we are children of God.

Intolerance and confrontation must not be allowed within the brotherhood and love of Christ. Mankind has suffered much as a result. Today as well, the creation of God – the world that surrounds us – is imperiled through interfaith disagreements, through wars and terrorism, through the effects of poverty and neglect. Our brothers and sisters are in distress in the Middle East and many other regions of the world; where women and children, the elderly and disabled are endangered by the blows of disagreement and division, unjust competition and enmity. This is not the Will of God. This is not our calling. We aspire to live a life in peace, of creation and creativity, to use the graces given to us by the Holy Spirit, to serve the establishment of unity and solidarity with the love of Jesus Christ and the message of the Gospel, since “for those that love God, all things work together unto good.” (Romans 8:28)

We Armenians are a people who have survived genocide, and we know well the value of love, brotherhood, friendship, peace and a secure life. Today, many countries of the world recognize and condemn the Genocide committed against the Armenian people by Ottoman Turkey, as did the Holy See, by His Holiness Pope John Paul II of blessed memory during our fraternal visit to Rome in 2000. Offering prayers to his luminous memory, we as Pontiff of the Armenians, appeal to all nations and lands to universally condemn all genocides that have occurred throughout history and those that continue through the present day, so that those who yield power and authority realize their responsibilities and results of those crimes which have been and continue to be committed against the creation of God, and that the denial of these crimes is an injustice that equals the commission of the same.

At this joyous moment of prayer, our sincere appeal to our Lord in heaven is that He keep our planet unshaken with harmony, brotherhood and reconciliation among peoples. May Almighty God keep our two Churches under his watchful and benevolent gaze in steadfast friendship, protecting Your Holiness under His All-Provident Right Hand, granting you many long years of blessed reign to lead the Catholic Church with your vision and characteristic wisdom, “to green pastures… and to the still waters…” (Psalms 23)

May the love and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all, now and always. Amen.

French AGBU Chapters Host "Armenian Security" Lecture Tour, Over 400 Attend

Armenian_Security_Lecture_Lyon01 AGBU chapters in the French cities of Paris, Marseille, Valence and Lyon, in cooperation with the Tchobanian Institute, organized a lecture tour entitled “The Foundations for Armenian Security and Means to Ensure It.” The Tchobanian Institute is an independent research center devoted to strategic studies in the South Caucasus, Asia Minor and the Middle East.
With the participation of Armen Ayvazyan, director of the Ararat Strategic Research Center and attending professor of Political Science at the American University of Armenia (AUA), the first event took place on April 4, 2008 in Paris, France. More than 150 people attended the event at the city’s AGBU Alex Manoogian Centre. Varoujan Sirapian, president and founder of the Tchobanian Institute, participated in the lecture tour as moderator. Geopoliticist François Thual joined Ayvazyan and Sirapian for the Paris leg of the tour.
After a presentation and analysis of the major threats that face Armenia and Karabakh, Ayvazyan discussed the issues facing Armenian-Turkish relations, including territorial sovereignty, demographics, and the strategic importance of the Armenian-populated territory of Javakhk in Georgia.
Thual offered a thorough analysis of the issues at hand and suggested that political and strategic concerns excluded the possibility of armed attacks on behalf of Azerbaijan and Turkey on Armenia. He said the real danger facing Armenia was the shrinking population, which is in stark contrast to the rapidly increasing population of neighboring Azerbaijan. The presentations were followed by a question-and-answer period when members of the public asked about Armenia’s demographic crisis, as well as the current post-electoral situation in Armenia.
Among the distinguished guests attending the Paris lecture were Alexis Govciyan, president of AGBU Europe, Nelly Tardivier-Henrot, commissioner of last year’s “Year of Armenia” celebrations in France, AGBU leaders, local Armenian clergy, community leaders, and French-Armenian youth.
The tour continued on Tuesday, April 8, at the AGBU Centre in Marseille and was attended by approximately 100 people. Michel Guéviguian, vice-president of AGBU Marseille, introduced the event and Robert Der Merguerian provided translation assistance throughout the evening.
On Wednesday, April 9, Ayvazyan and Sirapian traveled to Valence in southeastern France to speak to an audience of 100 at the local AGBU centre. Philippe Panossian, president of AGBU Valence, welcomed the audience that included members of the local town council, former AGBU Valence leaders, as well as representatives of various French-Armenian organizations.
The final stop was on Thursday, April 10, at the AGBU Centre in Lyon. Attended by more than 80 people, the Lyon event was hosted by Michel Sandjian, president of AGBU Lyon.
This lecture tour is the latest in AGBU Europe’s continuing program of conferences and debates on the geostrategic questions concerning Armenia within the framework of European institutions.
Established in 1906, AGBU ( is the world’s largest non-profit Armenian organization. Headquartered in New York City with an annual budget of $34 million, AGBU preserves and promotes the Armenian identity and heritage through educational, cultural and humanitarian programs, annually serving some 400,000 Armenians on six continents.
Armenian_Security_Lecture_Lyon01.jpg: A view of the “The Foundations for Armenian Security and Means to Ensure It” lecture in Lyon on April 10. The event was jointly organized by AGBU and the Tchobanian Institute.

AGBU Cairo Concludes a Busy Calendar of Philanthropy and Events

Cairo_Event_02 (Small)

AGBU Cairo retired the year 2007 with some promising philanthropy,
aiding in the funding of two very important and meaningful programs that
will continue to prosper into 2008 and beyond.
December 13, 2007 marked the inauguration of the Armenian Studies Center
at Cairo University’s Faculty of the Arts. To show their appreciation
for the efforts of the faculty in the establishment and oversight of the
Armenian Studies Center, AGBU Cairo Chairman Viken Djizmedjian and board
member George Simonian paid a visit to the Dean of the Faculty of Arts,
Ahmed Abdallah Zayed. The Armenian Studies Center will offer Armenian
language courses, as well as courses on Armenian literature and history,
and will organize conferences and lectures on Armenian culture and
The first lecture took place that very day: Professor Nicolai
Hovhanessian from the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia was
invited to give a lecture on Armenian-Arab relations, which was attended
by professors, students, and members of the Egyptian-Armenian community.
The Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia to Egypt, Ruben Karapetian,
was among those in attendance, and has had a significant role in the
creation of the Center. AGBU Cairo contributed 30,000 LE (approx. $5,500
USD) to defray the center’s expenses.
Even the youngest members at AGBU Cairo gave of themselves, and for a
great cause. On December 14, 2007, AGBU Cairo’s Dziadzan children’s
choir performed for the children at the Cairo Children’s Cancer Hospital
in honor of “Armenian Day,” along with Housaper’s Dzaghgastan choir and
members of the Sardarabad and Zankezour Armenian dance troupes. The
children were delighted by the groups’ cheerful songs and dances.
“Armenian Day” was first initiated by the First Ladies of Armenia and
Egypt in April 2007 during the President of the Republic of Armenia’s
first official visit to Egypt. The Armenian Embassy in Egypt and the
Egyptian-Armenian community sponsored this cultural initiative in an
effort to provide moral and material support to the Egyptian
government’s work in building this state-of-the-art hospital for the
treatment of children with cancer. AGBU Cairo has donated 10,000 LE
(approx. 2,000 USD) to the Cairo Children’s Cancer Hospital.
And now, as 2008 progresses, AGBU Cairo has continued its efforts in
education and the promotion of Armenian culture, with a very exciting
lecture, another performance by the Dziadzan children’s choir and a
presentation about AGBU’s growing list of youth programs in Armenia.
AGBU Cairo invited Hamlet Petrosyan, Professor of Archaeology and Senior
Research Fellow of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the
National Academy of Sciences of Armenia, to present the findings of
ongoing archaeological excavations of the historical city of Tigranakert
in Karabakh, built during the reign of King Tigran the Great, who ruled
95-55 BC. Petrosyan gave two lectures: the first was held in Cairo on
February 22 at the Belekdanian Hall, and the second in Alexandria at the
Boghossian School on February 24.
Petrosyan’s riveting lectures were complete with comprehensive
photographs and a DVD video presentation, affording the audience a sense
of the magnitude of this long-term project. The massive excavations are
being conducted by a group of archaeologists and scientists, and have
thus far uncovered the ruins of the fortifying walls of the ancient
city, as well as a cemetery, a church from a later period, and several
housing compounds. Everyone in attendance was impressed and awed by the
dedication and rigor shown by Petrosyan and his fellow scientists in
their ongoing efforts to complete this project, despite practical and
financial difficulties that have arisen.
On March 13, the Dziadzan and Dzgaghgastan choirs joined voices at the
Belekdanian Hall in Cairo in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the
Karabakh liberation movement. Their performance was part of a cultural
event organized by the local Armenian political parties. The program
included a lecture on the history of the conflict by the director of the
Armenian Institute of History at the Armenian National Academy of
Sciences, Ashod Melkonian, a flute and piano recital by Maestro Zakar
Keshishian and Gamila Keshishian, a dance performance from the Zankezour
troupe, and a poetry recitation by Nora Koehnelian.
Later, on March 30, AGBU Armenian Youth Program coordinator, Hermine
Duzian, traveled to Cairo to speak about the menu of youth programs
offered by the organization in the homeland. In addition to the
established Yerevan Summer Intern Program and the annual Youth Trip to
Armenia and Karabakh, this year will witness the launch of the AGBU
Scout Camp and the AGBU Study Abroad program in coordination with the
American University of Armenia (AUA). For more information about these
summer programs, visit The following day,
Duzian traveled to Alexandria to speak to parents and youth about the
Armenia programs.
Established in 1906, AGBU ( is the world’s largest
non-profit Armenian organization. Headquartered in New York City with an
annual budget of $34 million, AGBU preserves and promotes the Armenian
identity and heritage through educational, cultural and humanitarian
programs, annually serving some 400,000 Armenians on six continents.