The 500-seat K.H. Nazarian Hall was filled beyond capacity on December 25, 2011, as the Consul General of the Republic of Armenia Karen Grigorian, high ranking clergy from three Armenian churches, representatives from all Armenian organizations and AGBU AYA members and supporters gathered for the celebration of the 80th anniversary of AGBU Aleppo Armenian Youth Association (AYA), first founded in Aleppo by refugee orphans bearing League of Nation passports. AGBU leaders in attendance included Syria District Chairman Nerses Nersoyan, AYA Aleppo Executive Committee Chairman Viken Attarian and Aleppo Chapter Chairman Hagop Mikayelian, and members of their respective committees.
After observing a moment of silence for Syria’s recent martyrs, opening remarks were delivered in Armenian and Arabic by Raffi Tchaghlassian, with Tamar Khabaian serving as the Mistress of Ceremonies for a rich cultural program that brought to life the wonderful and far-reaching achievements of AGBU AYA in Aleppo for the past eight decades.
Shahan Jebejian narrated a video giving particular emphasis to AYA’s cultural and athletic activities, with other historical clips accompanied by poetic recitations projected intermittently.
The program offered a full repertoire of diverse musical performances: the much beloved AYA Big Band, conducted by Viken Tchalian, led the way with a special song dedicated to this 80th anniversary, followed by classical selections from AYA’s Gomidas Chamber Orchestra. Under the baton of conductor Shahe Keshishian, the AYA Spendiarian Choir performed several songs.
Next on the stage was the AYA Antranik Dance Ensemble, directed by Lutfik Poghosian from Armenia, after which a comedy skit was acted out by three members of the AYA Attamian Theater Group, which included Hagop Mikayelian. He also gave eloquent remarks during the program.
AYA Executive Committee Chairman Viken Attarian, Vice Chairman Robert Musali and Secretary Henry Arslanian presented 14 silver medals and 15 gold medals to AYA members in recognition of their decades-long dedication, which included a gold award to Nersoyan.
Bishop Shahan Sarkissian, Prelate of the Diocese of Aleppo, spoke on behalf of the three Armenian Christian denominations and offered a benediction dedicated to AYA’s 80th anniversary.
The attendees then moved to the Angele Kavafian Hall of the large multistory AGBU Calouste Gulbenkian Center, where the unveiling of the newly published, 320-page AYA commemorative book took place. This substantial large-folio volume was edited by Hagop Mikayelian, who was assisted by Zepure Ghibligian Tamerian. The Armenian traditional ceremony of pouring wine on the first copy followed, as did an anniversary cake cutting.
Established in 1906, AGBU (www.agbu.org) is the world's largest non-profit Armenian organization. Headquartered in New York City, AGBU preserves and promotes the Armenian identity and heritage through educational, cultural and humanitarian programs, annually touching the lives of some 500,000 Armenians around the world.
For more information about AGBU and its worldwide programs, please visit www.agbu.org