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ARMENIAN GENERAL BENEVOLENT UNION IN THIS ISSUE ♦ AGBU President addresses questions on Armenian-Turkish protocols (p. 1, 2) ♦ Vatche and Tamar Manoukian donate $11 million to AGBU Pasadena High School (p. 3) ♦ AGBU AVC Presented in Moscow (p. 4) ♦



On Friday, October 16, 2009, AGBU President Berge Setrakian APO holds 3rd International and members of the AGBU Central Board of Directors attended a Yerevan Music Festival (p. 4) special forum at the AGBU Center in Pasadena, California. The AGBU YPs support CARD event was attended by leaders of Rural training program (p. 5) AGBU's chapters and committees in Southern California and it AGBU YP Northern California provided local Armenian Ameridonates $10,000 to AUA (p. 5) cans the opportunity to ask about AGBU's position in support of the Protocols for the Process of NorAGBU Yerevan Scouts hold a malization of Relations between AGBU President Berge Setrakian (center), AGBU Central Board memseminar in Tsaghkadzor (p. 6) Armenia and Turkey.

♦ AGBU-funded Artsakh Chamber Orchestra is 5 years old (p. 7)

bers (from left) Yervant Zorian, Sam Simonian, Sinan Sinanian, Carol Aslanian, and AGBU SCDC Chair Berj Shahbazian (second from right)

The following are the key issues discussed during the event and







Q: AGBU was one of the first organizations that took a stand in support of the Armenia-Turkey normalization process, and it was also one of the five signatories of a joint statement in support of the ♦ AGBU Children’s Centers start process. Why did AGBU extend its support to the initiative of the Armenian government? the new academic year (p. 8) Berge Setrakian: In connection with the normalization process of relations between Armenia and Turkey and the opening of the borders, we believe that the President of the Republic of Armenia has exercised strong leadership and a realistic understanding of the state of affairs of regional and international diplomacy. He has acted as a responsible leader taking a bold and somewhat difficult step forward. We know that this process was not easy to engage, as it represents significant challenges for the President and for all Armenians. We believe it is important for the Armenian authorities to have the trust, support, and feedback of the people in order to be able to negotiate from a position of strength, and face any difficulties ahead. We all know that this will be a long and arduous exercise, which will involve hard choices and diplomatic maneuvers that Armenians will have to understand in order to navigate. Though the end result is still unknown, the initiative and the attempt to resolve our issues at hand are worth a genuine effort. We must remember the past and fight realistically for our rights, while looking forward to build a strong future. Q: How do you evaluate the RA President's visit to the diasporan communities and don't you think that this issue has caused division among our people and threatens to disconnect Armenia from the diaspora. Setrakian: The recent visit of the president of Armenia to the main communities and organizations of the diaspora presented an opportunity for sincere and sometimes heated exchange of viewpoints by various sectors of the Armenian Diaspora. In the final analysis, we believe that President Sargsian will weigh all the various arguments and concerns and decide a course of action that reflects the best interests of Armenia and Armenians. It became apparent from the perspectives conveyed about the initiative for the normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey that the Armenian diaspora, insofar as its notion of the status quo is concerned, is not a monolithic society and it is not possible to force it to act like one. However, it is necessary to distinguish between diversity regarding procedural issues and positions on matters of principle. Differences in approach to the issues at hand should all be respected, and do not necessarily mean a split when there is unanimity concerning the ultimate outcome. We, for instance, take a pragmatic stand and believe that in this era of global geopolitics it is more realistic for us to try to pursue our rightful demands through diplomacy and direct negotiations with neighboring states, rather than through other means, which, so far, for almost a century, have not yielded any concrete positive results. Q: You mentioned that the protocols do not constitute preconditions yet they set predetermined steps charting the process of opening the borders and normalization of bilateral relations. Don't you feel that at least three items of the protocols imply potential concessions regarding the issue of the Genocide, Armenia's territorial demands of Turkey and the ongoing negotiations regarding the status of Karabakh. (continuation on page 2)

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AGBU ARMENIA NEWSLETTER Setrakian: We all understand that the protocols regulating the process of normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey are the result of lengthy negotiations involving Armenia, Turkey, and other states that have a stake in the geopolitical developments of the region. The current documents are not perfect and should be viewed as a possible compromise reached between the parties involved. However, what they primarily signify today is the fact that they put Turkey under the obligation to open the borders and pursue the development of normal diplomatic relations between the two countries prior to any further steps. We are well cognizant of the fact that Turkey is a state that committed genocide against the Armenian people and has consistently and systematically denied it for the past hundred years. It has conducted a hostile policy with regard to the Armenian people and Armenia. Over the past 15 years, through the closing of the borders, it has exerted pressure on the Republic of Armenia to force it to relinquish the pursuit of the issue of Genocide recognition, as well as the independence and self-determination of Karabakh. We have no doubt that when the development of relations takes course, according to the dispositions of the protocols, Turkey will continuously try to push its own agenda in connection with the issues at hand. However, faced with that possibility, the solution is not the refusal to negotiate and the isolation of Armenia; rather, it is the promotion of dialogue, as a modern civilized nation exercising diplomatic expertise and using the leverage of the international powers that have a stake in the outcome. It has been repeatedly confirmed by the President of Armenia and the major mediating nations that the process of normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey are not conditioned by the process of determining the status of Karabakh. This process has no negative bearing on its independence, security, and right of self-determination. The people of Karabakh and Armenia have fought hard and their leaders will under no circumstance forfeit their territorial rights and their claim for self-determination. As far as the matter of Genocide recognition is concerned, if the Turkish parliament ratifies the protocols, Turkey will be forced to realistically face the existence of the Genocide issue after ignoring it and attempting to distort it over the past hundred years. In the final analysis, in connection with the Genocide issue, the process that may drive the Turkish people to become aware of, explore, and acknowledge the historical reality of the Genocide and consequent reparations, is equally, if not more important than the recognition by other countries. The commission referred to will constitute a forum where both sides can share, and either party will be able to walk away if a fair and just solution to the recognition of the genocide is not reached. The issue of the existing borders is determined by the international community of nations and Armenia faces the reality of having inherently accepted these borders through its membership in the UN or the CIS. Again, Armenia will not be able to affect the resolution of the issue of territorial demands and legal borders by isolating itself from the international diplomatic stage. As a full-fledged legitimate state, it is by participating in negotiations and promoting dialogue in defense of its demands that Armenia will pursue its historical rights. The pulling together of the energies of all Armenians towards such a process will be more productive than a dismissive stance. A contract is never a perfect document. It is the result of negotiations between parties pursuing their respective interests. I would like to reiterate, that in this era of globalization, Armenia cannot isolate itself. That would lead to eventual disintegration. It is through self-confidence, the creation of stable legal and economic structures for an independent and democratic statehood, and opening additional paths in a free-market economy that Armenia will be able to face the challenges of our times.

ISSUE 1, SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER, 2009 Armenia cannot ignore the importance of the involvement of Russia, the USA, France and other powers in this process powers that have long supported Armenia and its interests. This is a negotiation those parties endorse, making it highly imprudent for Armenia not to engage and refuse to be part of the process. Q: Why did AGBU, a non-political organization, choose to be involved in this matter perceived as political in nature. Setrakian: The Armenian General Benevolent Union is a nonpolitical all-Armenian organization. By its very nature, issues of Armenian national interest such as the survival and security of our people, development and prosperity of Armenia, and the preservation of our heritage and identity with all that it entails, have been at the core of its existence and mission. All along its history, AGBU's policies and activities have necessarily involved civil political involvement. The Armenian General Benevolent Union was instrumental in pressing for a number of Armenian claims during the international political negotiations in the aftermath of World War I and during the tenure of the first Armenian Republic. Boghos Nubar Pasha headed the Armenian National Delegation at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. Later, during the Soviet period, AGBU maintained, as a Diasporan Armenian organization, a representation office in Armenia and its representative was victimized by the regime; nevertheless, Boghos Nubar undertook major projects in Armenia, including the establishment of major medical and educational facilities in Yerevan, and developing the ambitious plan of the town of Nubarashen, tirelessly working through the operational and political challenges for its construction. Years later, Calouste Gulbenkian, then President of AGBU, was instrumental in negotiating with representatives of the French Mandate in Lebanon and Syria, the establishment on a permanent basis of Armenian refugees, including the creation of Bourdj Hammoud, Ainjar, and other Armenian quarters. During the presidency of Arshag Karageozian, in 1946 the AGBU financed under difficult political circumstances the repatriation of more than 100,000 Armenians to Armenia. It was a major political effort with a historical impact for the future of our nation. It was later the foresight of Alex Manoogian to continue AGBU's support of the motherland through the treacherous years of the Cold War, creating infrastructure would strengthen Armenia through its independence while preserving and promoting the Armenian identity and heritage in the diaspora. During the presidency of Louise Manoogian Simone, AGBU was one of the first organizations to come to the aid of Armenia after the catastrophic earthquake of 1988. Those efforts helped to maintain our cultural and religious infrastructures and strengthen the newly-independent Republic of Armenia. The organization further extended its support to Karabakh in its struggle for independence and self-determination. AGBU continues to play a critical role in Europe by developing awareness about the historical rights of Armenians in the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh, through collaboration with scientific research organizations and international political forums. At this juncture, it is not unusual but, in fact it is AGBU's duty to speak up and express its viewpoint on the Armenia-Turkey Protocols.

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AGBU CENTRAL BOARD MEETS IN LOS ANGELES: 10TH ANNUAL SCDC GALA HONORS VATCHE & TAMAR MANOUKIAN, WHO DONATE $11 MILLION TO PASADENA CENTER & HIGH SCHOOL In a singular act of kindness, longtime AGBU benefactors Vatche and Tamar Manoukian have donated $11 million to the AGBU Pasadena High School and Center in Southern California. The gift was announced by AGBU President Berge Setrakian during the Saturday, October 17, 2009 gala of the AGBU Southern California District Committee (SCDC) at the Sheraton Universal in Studio City, California, which welcomed close to 500 people. The elegant affair was attended by AGBU President Berge Setrakian and his wife Vera, U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff, Chairman and CEO of Occidental Petroleum Corporation Ray Irani, AGBU Central Board Members, including Carol Aslanian, Aris Atamian, Yervant Demirjian, Sam Simonian, Berge Papazian, Sinan Sinanian and Hon. Judge Dickran Tevrizian, Yervant Zorian, SCDC Chair Berge Shahbazian, and members of the SCDC board. This annual event celebrates the continuing success of SCDC's activities in Southern California, and honors those who have made a substantial impact on the region's large Armenian-American community. This year's honorees, Vatche and Tamar Manoukian of London, England, are longtime benefactors of the global Armenian community, and the AGBU Center and High School in Pasadena will be renamed in their honor. The AGBU Pasadena Complex is the center of the organization's activities in the region. In addition to the three-year-old AGBU High

AGBU Pasadena High School and Center School Pasadena, which has over 120 students and athletic facilities that host hundreds of youths every weekend, the AGBU Pasadena Center is home to the organization's many cultural and educational programs, including the Ardavazt Theater Company, Generation Next Mentorship Program, Hye Geen, Sardarabad Dance Ensemble, and the Young Professionals of Los Angeles. MEETING WITH LOCAL ARMENIANS On Friday, October 16, members of the AGBU Central Board arrived in Los Angeles. In the morning, the group, accompanied by

SCDC Chair Shahbazian and SCDC members, traveled to the AGBU Manoogian-Demirdjian School in Canoga Park, California, which offers K-12 instruction to over 800 students. During their visit, they toured classrooms and the new Artemis Nazarian Pre-School facilities, familiarized themselves with the high school's cutting-edge robotics program and joined the School's ParentTeacher Organization for a specially prepared luncheon.

ent featuring a cocktail reception followed by a formal dinner, which honored national benefactors Vatche and Tamar Manoukian for their dedication to Armenians and their continuing generosity. The event was emceed by Vahe Charkutian and featured speeches by SCDC Special Events Committee Chair Hermine Janoyan, SCDC Chair Shahbazian, AGBU President Berge Setrakian,

In the afternoon, AGBU Central Board and SCDC members paid a courtesy visit to Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the of the Armenian Church of North America (Western Diocese), and Joseph Kanimian, chairman of the Diocesan Council of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America. They toured the new cathedral, which is expected to be Mr. and Mrs. Vatche and Tamar Manoukian and Mr. completed in June 2010, and conand Mrs. Berge and Vera Setrakian secrated by His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, in Septem- remarks by guest of honor Vatche Manouber. The building will house a small mu- kian and words by Archbishop Derderian, seum and classrooms for Sunday school who relayed the blessing of His Holiness instruction. Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians. That evening, Central Board and SCDC leaders met with local AGBU chapter and committee chairs to discuss the organization's recent statement of support for the Protocols for the Process of Normalization of Relations between Armenia and Turkey, which were officially signed on October 10, 2009, in Zurich, Switzerland. Setrakian addressed the gathering about the issue at hand, stressing AGBU's unwavering support for Armenia and the Armenian diaspora. "We fully share the concerns of all Armenians, but today we are part of the community of nations and we can't participate as partisans. Armenia needs to work with international and regional bodies that look at the region as a whole", Setrakian said. "We need to be united and acknowledge that this is only the beginning of a long and arduous process. By working together we can ensure that any hurdles that Turkey will try to produce on the road to normalization are dealt with from a position of strength." A MOST GENEROUS GIFT TO AGBU Saturday night's Gala at Sheraton Universal was the pinnacle of a weekend that included a meeting of the AGBU Central Board on Saturday morning and smaller meetings with community leaders who are working to improve the quality of life for local Armenian Americans. The elegant ev-

During his speech, the AGBU President lauded the Manoukians for their strong dedication to the values that form the cornerstone of the Armenian community. "Vatche and Tamar, both of whom were born into families with strong Armenian values, have achieved a dream life with a warm family of their own, financial success and unsparing philanthropy, all the while perpetuating and promoting the Armenian values which were inculcated in them by their parents." He extended his gratitude on behalf of AGBU to the couple and the impact their charity will have on the lives of our future generations. His Holiness Karekin II's message outlined the long history of philanthropy that the Manoukians have bestowed on the Armenian community, "Vatche and Tamar Manoukian's names are cherished in the diaspora as well as in the hearts of all Armenians in the Motherland. The lives of our future generations should be positively affected by the generosity of our benefactors, Vatche and Tamar Manoukian." In honor of the Manoukians, the AGBU Pasadena High School and Center will be renamed after Vatche and Tamar Manoukian. In addition to the Manoukians' donation, the SCDC Gala raised $400,000, including a gift of $160,000 from the Turpanjian Family Education Foundation of California.

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AGBU ARMENIAN VIRTUAL COLLEGE PRESENTED IN MOSCOW MSU, members of the youth union of the Armenian Apostolic Church, representatives of the Armenian community, teachers and students of the Youth Center, other guests. Dr. Zoryan and Mr. Ghazarian presented the AGBU activities with a special emphasis on youth projects. As the Founding Chairman of the AGBU Armenian Virtual College Dr. Zoryan also made separate presentations about the AVC. After the presentation, two of AVC students from Moscow Tatul Adzhamian and Vartan Marashlian, who were in the audience, shared their first hand experience about AVC expressing their enthusiasm regarding its impact.

Dr. Yervant Zoryan with the Armenian students of Moscow Dr. Yervant Zoryan, Member of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) Central Board of Directors, and Mr. Ashot Ghazarian, Director of the AGBU Armenian Representation visited Moscow, Russia, from September 18-21, to meet with Armenian students and community of Moscow and present the AGBU’s educational and youth projects in general and particularly the Armenian Virtual College (AVC) – AGBU’s newest contribution to Armenian education. The AVC was officially launched in June 2009 and deservedly joined the wide range of educational and youth projects being implemented by the AGBU for decades including internships, educational trips, scout camps, YP groups in different parts of the world with substantial Armenian communities. During their Moscow visit the AGBU representatives made two presentations - one at the Moscow State University after Lomonosov, and the second at the Youth Center of the Armenian Apostolic Church - attended by the Armenian students of the

Bishop Yezras Nersisian, Primate of the Armenian Diocese of Russia and Nor Nakhijevan, who was also present at the presentation in Youth Center, stated in his closing speech, "For over 100 years the AGBU around the world, along with the Armenian Church, maintained the identity and the faith of the Armenian nation". During their stay in Moscow the AGBU representatives also met with Bishop Yezras Nersisian, Primate of the Armenian Diocese of Russia and Nor Nakhijevan, and Armen Smbatian, RA Ambassador to Russian Federation, who, in their turn, pledged to support AGBU in the implementation of educational and youth projects in Russia. Together with Bishop Yezras Nersisian the guests visited the new Armenian Church being constructed in the center of Moscow. This visit revealed a huge potential for the application of the new educational methods offered by the AGBU and reconfirmed the current need for programs like AVC among the Diaspora Armenians. The presented programs of the Union raised great interest among the Armenians of Russia and will definitely have their contribution in the preservation of Armenian identity and heritage in one of the biggest Armenian communities of the world.

AGBU-FUNDED APO HOLDS 3RD YEREVAN INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL The Third Yerevan International Music Festival of classical music started on September 11 at Aram Khachatrian Concert Hall. For a whole month the music-loving society of Armenia will have the opportunity to listen to a number of world famous musicians within the framework of the festival. Among them are pianist Francois Frederic Guy (France), violinist Massimo Quarta (Italy), cellist Natalia Gutman (Russia), tenor Giuseppe Giacomini (Italy), violist Kim Kashkashian (USA), pianist Ashley Wass (Great Britain), clarinetist Wolfgang Meyer (Germany), violinist Daishin “This year all the participants are exceptional. In the Kashimoto (Japan) and many others. past we used to have one or two, but this year we have The opening concert of the festival took place on September 11 and was dedicated to the 70th anniversary of Maestro Tigran Mansourian.

really great musicians and conductors”, E. Topchjan

Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra (conductor Eduard Tophcjan) and famous violist Kim Kashkashian performed Mansourian’s “Partita” and “Viola concerto #2”. The artistic directors of the festival are Maestro Eduard Topchjan, Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra, and cellist Alexander Chaushian from Great Britain. “I am glad that this year too, despite the financial crisis, we managed to hold the Yerevan international music festival”, said Maestro Topchjan. Famous musicians and conductors from Germany, Great Britain, Italy, France, Austria, Belgium, Russia, Japan and Armenia are participating in the festival performing pieces by Beethoven, Haydn, Paganini, MenFamous tenor Giuseppe Giacomini performing with APO delson, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Weber and other famous composers.

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AGBU YPs SUPPORT CARD RURAL TRAINING PROGRAM 17 young men from 2 different regions of Armenia (10 from Voskevan village, Tavush marz, and 7 from Jrahovit village, Ararat marz) took part in the Rural Training Programme organised by CARD with the support of AGBU’s Youth Professionals of the United Arab Emirates. The groups were provided with workshops carried out by Hrunik Manukyan, an expert from the region, who grows sweet corn for more than 5 years already and who introduced them to this high value agricultural product, new technologies in agriculture as well as new forms of pest control.

Farming expert Hrunik Manukyan explains the techniques of growing sweet corn

Each group was supplied with 10,000 seeds of sweet corn purchased by CARD AgroService organization and delivered from well known USbased Abbott & Cobb seed company, which they went on to cultivate in their own regions.

US Ambassador to Armenia Marie Yovanovitch together with the AGBU YP Yerevan members and Jrahovit villagers

On August 25th United States Ambassador to Armenia Marie Yovanovitch visited Jrahovit Village as part of her tour of agricultural project in the region. The ambassador was impressed with the work that the young men had carried out and expressed interest in future cooperation.


AGBU YP Northern California, who celebrated its 10-year anniversary this year & was honored by the AGBU Central Board of Directors for its service to the community, made this most recent donation to AUA scholarship fund through their signature annual Winter Gala Dinner. Over the last number of years YP Greater New York and YP Los Angeles and Northern California have donated more than $25,000 to various AUA projects including its Scholarship Fund and Digital Library. During this year’s AUA Annual Alumni Dinner YP Yerevan Liaison and YSIP Coordinator Anna Aghajanian presented a cheque for $10,000 to the President of AUA Dr. Haroutune Armenian.

This continuous cooperation with AUA as well as YP Yerevan on numerous projects gives the AGBU YP Groups and the members who run them meaning and purpose. The YP Groups are proud to continue AGBU’s long standing tradition of investing in the future of Armenia and specifically, the education of young Armenian professionals.

AUA President Dr. Haroutune Armenian and AGBU YP Yerevan

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AGBU ARMENIA SCOUT COUNCIL HOLDS A SEMINAR IN TSAGHKADZOR On the weekend of On the second day of October 24-25, with the the seminar, the groups “Always aim higher, support of the AGBU presented the develcause our job is sacred” Armenian Represenoped programs. Karen tation, the AGBU Armenia Scout Tirarian spoke about the issue that interCouncil held a seminar in Tsaghkadzor. The goal of the ested everyone – how to recruit new members and seminar was to discuss important issues, share their scout expand the scout movement. For that purpose they knowledge with all the participants and develop methods, decided to use all possible means of information and which would help recruit new scout members. publicity including ads. The next place for scout activities will be the Nork Children’s Center. An opening speech was made by Maral Levonian, member of the AGBU Armenia Scout Council, who passed on the microphone to Karen Tirarian, Head of the Scout Council. He presented the newly developed scout regulations and one by one explained all the articles in it. Minas Levonian spoke about uniforms and distinctive badges. Hagop Zhokian stated in his speech that every scout pro-

During the seminar at Kecharis Hotel in Tsaghkadzor

AGBU Diaspora Youth Programs coordinator Hermine Duzian and AGBU Armenian Representation Deputy Director Hovig Eordekian (center) together with the AGBU Yerevan Scouts

ject should have its form, goal and methods of fulfillment. Karen Tirarian spoke about discipline and co-relation between the scout heads and members. Maral Levonian explained the methods of holding meetings, taking minutes and archiving. The closing speech was made by Eduard Ter Gasparian. After that the groups presented their annual programs, mentioned the important holidays and annual events that should be celebrated, and formed their schedule of activities for the next three months.

By the end of the day the future scout leaders together with Hermine Duzian, AGBU Diaspora Youth Projects Coordinator in Armenia, also joined the seminar participants. Guest speaker Hovig Eordekian, AGBU Armenian Representation deputy director, delivered a lecture about the historic past and present relations between the AGBU and Armenia, as well as the development of scout movement and future responsibilities of the scout leaders. After the lunch break the seminar participants visited the Kecharis monastery in Tsaghkadzor. In the end of the seminar at Maral Levonian’s initiative every group leader presented its impressions. The seminar served its goal and the participants pledged to fulfill their duties to the best of their abilities.


December 6: The official oath ceremony of the new scout members will take place on Sunday, December 6, at 12:00pm, at Arabkir Children’s Center For further information about the events please contact Hermine Duzian at (093) 68-31-73 Page 6



AGBU-FUNDED ARTSAKH CHAMBER ORCHESTRA CELEBRATES 5TH ANNIVERSARY Fifth anniversary jubilee concert of Artsakh Chamber Orchestra at the Stepanakert culture palace on October 16, 2009

The concert was followed by a reception attended by NKR Culture Minister Narine Aghabalian, the whole staff of the Artsakh Chamber Orchestra, musicians, cultural figures, guests.

On October 16, at 19:00 pm, a concert dedicated to the fifth anniversary of the establishment of Artsakh Chamber Orchestra took place at the Stepanakert culture palace. The hall was full as always. Guests from Armenia including Lilit Grikorian (mezzo-soprano), Irina Zakian (soprano), composer Eduard Sadoyan, as well as the “Mrakats� choir from Artsakh participated in the concert. Congratulatory messages from Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), NKR General Assembly, NKR Culture Ministry, RA Culture Ministry, Yerevan State Conservatory, Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra, Armenian Chamber Orchestra, Armenian State Academic Choir, other organizations and individuals were presented during an official ceremony before the concert.

Renowned composer Eduard Sadoyan congratulates the ACO on its 5th anniversary

During the jubilee concert the orchestra performed the works of Handel, Aram Khachatrian, Rossini, Verdi, Sayat Nova, Arno Babajanian, and Piazzolla.

The idea of establishing a chamber orchestra in Artsakh was born during the meeting of former NKR President Arkady Ghoukassian and AGBU President Berge Setrakian in the spring

NKR Culture Minister Narine Aghabalian making a congratulatory speech during the ACO jubilee concert

of 2004. Artsakh Chamber Orchestra started operating in September of that same year under the sponsorship of the Armenian General Benevolent Union, which continues up to now. In the beginning the majority of the musicians in the orchestra were from Armenia. Today, the proportion has changed in favor of Artsakh. Besides performing in the orchestra this group of musicians also teaches music at Shoushi and Stepanakert music schools, which will help sustain the orchestra into the future. Headed by General Manager and Principal Conductor Gevork Muradian during the five years of its existence the Artsakh Chamber Orchestra has garnered a reputation of being one of the best chamber orchestras in the South Caucasus. Among a number of successes the biggest achievement of the orchestra has been the rebirth of the cultural life in the war-torn Artsakh. Maestro Gevork Muradian has also been granted a title of NKR Honored Artist by NKR President Bako Sahakian. Page 7



AGBU AND ST. ETCHMIADZIN CHILDREN’S CENTERS START THE NEW ACADEMIC YEAR Arts and crafts class at the AGBU and St. Etchmiadzin Children’s Center

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS September 2 – Mr. and Mrs. Avakians from US and other benefactors from Montreal and Toronto, Canada, visited the Children’s Center. An exhibition and a concert took place in honor of the guests. September 10 – “Shoghakat” choir participated in Vahan Artsruni’s solo concert within the framework of Open Music Festival at the Moscow movie theater’s open-air hall. On September 8, a meeting of teachers and administrative staff took place at the AGBU and St. Etchmiadzin Children’s Center in Nork district of Yerevan. The meeting discussed issues connected with the entrance applications and examinations, group formation, and the curriculum.

September 12 – A joint concert was held at the Arabkir Children’s Center symbolizing the start of the new academic year. September 19 – “Nork” circus troupe participated in the opening ceremony of the new building of Etchmiadzin Children’s Center. September 20 – “Narek” and “Haykazunk” dance groups participated in a concert in Musa Ler.

Visits to different schools and meetings with school principals, pedagogues and pupils were also organized. Entrance exSeptember 25 – AGBU ams were held and classes Buenos Aires Women’s formed. Two new teachers Children’s Center circus troupe during a performance Committee visited the joined the family of pedagogues Children’s Center. A conof the Nork Children’s Center, cert was organized in honor of the guests, followed by an exhibition, which Melanya Shahinian – teacher of raised 94,500 AMD. English language, and Anahit September 25-26 – Pupils and parents of Yerevan schools ## 163, 159 and Gevorkian – the trainer of the 197 were the guests of the Nork Children’s Center. They watched the pernewly-established chess class. formances prepared by the pupils of the Children’s Center.

Please be advised that the AGBU Newsletter is for general reference only and should not be reprinted in any form without the explicit written permission of AGBU. All rights reserved. Established in 1906, AGBU ( is the world's largest non-profit Armenian organization. Headquartered in New York City with an annual budget of $36 million, AGBU preserves and promotes the Armenian identity and heritage through educational, cultural and humanitarian programs, annually touching the lives of some 400,000 Armenians on six continents.

ARMENIAN GENERAL BENEVOLENT UNION NEW YORK 55 East 59th Street, New York, NY 10022-1112 Phone: 212 319 6383 Fax: 212 319 6507 E-mail: Website:


YEREVAN 9 Alex Manoogian Street, Yerevan, Armenia Phone: (374 10) 51-22-51 Fax: (374 10) 51-22-52 E-mail: Website: Page 8

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