Upon the initiative of the Diaspora Ministry of the Republic of Armenia and Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), “Groong” choir of AGBU Montevideo, Uruguay, gave two unforgettable concerts in Armenia, as the start of the series of concerts dedicated to the 20th anniversary of Armenia’s independence. Established in 1993, “Groong” choir is headed by Maestro Alvaro Hakobian, who is also the principal conductor of the Montevideo Philharmonic Orchestra. After touring South American cities with substantial Armenian populations, the choir headed to Armenia for their first-ever performance in the Homeland. The first concert of the “To the Homeland” tour took place at the Arno Babajanian Concert Hall in central Yerevan, on April 26. Many prominent art figures, government members, representatives of diplomatic missions and intelligentsia were present at the concert. In her opening remarks, RA Diaspora Minister Hranush Hakobian said: “My warm and cordial greetings to our compatriots from Uruguay. We are grateful to “Groong” for preserving Armenian roots, Armenian identity and Armenian culture. This is the result of the unification of the Armenian communities of South America. Symbolic is the fact that Uruguay was the first country in the world to recognize and condemn the Armenian Genocide and certainly, the Armenian community of Uruguay played a major role in this. For decades “Groong” choir has sung about Armenians and Armenia and their heart is, indeed, in Armenia”.

The Minister thanked the choir members and conductor Alvaro Hakobian and awarded them with an RA Diaspora Ministry’s certificate for the proliferation and development of the Armenian culture, preservation of the Armenian identity and continuous creative activities. The concert program presented by the choir included pieces by Komitas, Tigranian, Hekimian, Avetissian, Goosan Sheram, Goosan Ashot, Goosan Shahen, Kotoyan, Tamatian and others, as well as various interpretations of famous folk and patriotic songs. After a lasting standing ovation of the packed hall the choir performed several additional songs. A warm and touching atmosphere filled the hall and the choir was very warmly received by the audience.

The second concert by “Groong” took place in the Gyumri Art Academy on April 28th opening the “Renaissance” 3rd International Contest-Festival of Musician-Performers. The concert was attended by town officials, prominent public and art figures and students.

The choir members also went sightseeing and visited different cultural centers in Armenia. On April 24th, together with AGBU Armenian Representation staff, AGBU scouts and Yerevan YP team, the choir ascended to the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Tsitsernakabert to pay tribute to the victims of the Armenian Genocide. A wreath on behalf of the Union was placed at the eternal fire. On April 29th, members of “Groong” visited the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin and were received by His Holiness Karekin II. On April 30th, the choir was hosted at the AGBU Armenian Representation, where Ashot Ghazarian, AGBU Armenian Representation Director, made a brief presentation on the Union’s activities in Armenia. The guests also got acquainted with the activities of the AGBU Armenian Virtual College. On the evening of the same day the choir members attended the beautiful and unforgettable concert at the AGBU and Holy Etchmiadzin Nork Children’s Center.

On May 2, Mr. and Mrs. Hrayr and Anna Hovnanian organized a farewell evening for the choir members in their Yerevan residence.



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