March 22, 2013 - 13:54 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Last weekend, the Armenian Community in Egypt gathered at the Nubarian Armenian School in Heliopolis to listen to the Arax Choir conducted by Mihran Ghazelian, Ahram Online reported.
The event commemorated the 110th anniversary of the Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978).
The concert by the Arax Choir included a few of the original choral works by Khachaturian, based on folkloric songs, while other songs were based on Khachaturian's music, with lyrics written by Mihran Ghazelian, the choir's conductor and artistic director. The evening also included short dance numbers to Khachaturian's music and a documentary about the composer.
Operating under the Armenian Prelacy of Cairo, the Arax Choir goes back to the 1990s. However, back then, the choir had a different name, Zavartnots, and was conducted by David Zalyan, who was succeeded by conductor Hrant Aghajanian, a music and arts teacher, one of the important mediators of Armenian culture in Egypt. Finally, in 2003, Mihran Ghazelian became the choir's conductor and artistic director, changing its name to Arax. Under Ghazelian's management, Arax expanded to include over 30 amateur singers, including four voices, men and women.
The first performance of the choir under the name of Arax was on the occasion of the 1700th anniversary of foundation of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin (in 303 AD), the oldest church built by a state in the world and the spiritual headquarters of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Since becoming Arax, the choir has given a number of concerts in Cairo and Alexandria. In 2009, its performance at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina was received with acclaim. On several occasions, the choir took part in the Egyptian Churches religious songs festival organised by the Coptic Church.
Last summer, for the first time, Arax traveled abroad to participate in the choral works festival organized in Yerevan, Armenia.
Arax also takes part in the Armenian community's commemoration events, such as the Armenian Genocide in April each year, the anniversary of creation of the Armenian alphabet, along with commemorations of important national battles and victories. The choir also performs on the anniversaries of renowned Armenian composers, among many other historically and culturally important dates. In total, over the past decade, Arax gave 35 music performances.
According to estimates, today the Armenian minority in Egypt does not exceed 6,000 people living in Cairo and Alexandria. Most of them have Egyptian nationality yet not all of them have Armenian nationality.