Boghos Yeghiazar: “My victory helped me eventually settle in Armenia”

To this day, people remember Istanbul-Armenian repatriate opera singer Boghos Yeghiazar as the Diaspora Armenian participant of the “Alfred’s Room” TV contest who eventually won with his sincerity and straightforwardness. It is this victory that became the guarantee for Boghos to finally settle in the homeland, and Boghos talked about this and other issues in an interview with Hayern Aysor.

Hayern Aysor: Every repatriate has an interesting story to tell about moving to Armenia. It’s interesting to know why you repatriated.

Boghos Yeghiazar: The main reason why I repatriated was because I wanted to study in the Department for Armenian Studies of the Faculty of Philology at Yerevan State University. Since I had attended Armenian schools in Istanbul for twelve years, my teachers encouraged me to go to Yerevan State University to enhance and improve my knowledge of Armenian. Until then, I would maintain ties with the homeland through my relatives who, unfortunately, died after the 1988 earthquake in Spitak.

As historian and poet Ghevond Alishan would say, we knew the entire homeland street by street and city by city in photos. I already felt the duty to see the homeland up close, and on December 14, 1999, paying heed to my parents’ calls, I took the path to Armenia.

Hayern Aysor: What became the major challenge for you after repatriating to Armenia?

Boghos Yeghiazar: In the beginning, the greatest challenge was overcoming the linguistic barrier between Eastern Armenian and Western Armenian, especially foreign words that were used in daily conversations and sounded strange to me every time I heard them. In this sense, there are many funny stories that make my friends and I laugh every time we remember them.

It was easy for me to make friends during my years at the university and in daily contacts.

Hayern Aysor: You got the green light after winning the “Alfred’s Room” TV contest in 2001. What did you get out of participating in that contest?

Boghos Yeghiazar: The TV show “Alfred’s Room” truly became a turning point for me. Due to positive changes, I received various job proposals. As a matter of fact, I went to an interview on the last day of the pre-election stage for the contest.

First, I decided to participate in the contest to test myself. Later, I realized that I had become more persistent and, most importantly, I never suffered from “stardom” after becoming popular. I think my victory helped me eventually settle in my homeland. After paying income tax from the money I had received as a prize, I started pursuing an education in music.

Hayern Aysor: Did you have a musical background?

Boghos Yeghiazar: I was a member of the Sayat-Nova Children’s Choir and later Sayat-Nova Adult Choir in Istanbul for many years.

After I failed to defend my diploma work due to certain problems in the last year of studies at Yerevan State University in 2004, in 2005, I got accepted to the Vocal Department at Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory. I have made several music videos, and I give concerts when invited.

In 2015, I had the honor of performing during an oratory devoted to Hrant Dink and held as part of the “Days of Armenian Culture of Istanbul” pan-Armenian cultural festival organized by the Ministry of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia. The oratory was held not only in Yerevan, but also in Istanbul, Montreal and New York.

Hayern Aysor: In your opinion, what changes have been made in Armenia over the years?

Boghos Yeghiazar: Over the past 18 years that I have been living in Armenia, I have noticed great progress in various sectors. What is very important is economic development, especially in farming and winemaking which, as a national asset, must be widely supported and cared for.

I must mention the Velvet Revolution, which serves as a serious impetus for the future of the Armenian people.

I attach great importance to the establishment of the Ministry of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia, which further strengthened the Armenia-Diaspora relations and conveyed new air to them. We closely collaborate with the employees of the Department for Relations with the Near Diaspora at the Ministry, and they are always willing to give responses to our issues.

Hayern Aysor: Nevertheless, what did you get out of repatriation?

Boghos Yeghiazar: I can’t say that I rediscovered my national identity because I have never been detached from my roots in Istanbul and have always felt the air and spirit of Armenia and the Armenians everywhere. I became aware of this through my family, teachers and the church.

Hayern Aysor: What are your plans?

Boghos Yeghiazar: I have an idea for a project that will be implemented through the synthesis of the arts and business.

I also plan on establishing a non-governmental organization of Istanbul-Armenians in Armenia through cooperation with the Ministry of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia.

Hayern Aysor: Boghos, what is the Armenia of your dreams?

Boghos Yeghiazar: Currently, I see the Armenia to which I repatriated. I am very glad that I will be a part of the Armenia of my dreams and will see positive changes in the near future.

I am always ready to do my best to contribute to the sacred task of building my country. I hope everything turns out for the best in Armenia and the Armenians’ expectations are met. I would also like to thank the young Armenians who served as the main impetus for this revolution. They are the future of Armenia, and we must live and create together in the heavenly Armenia where the coming generations must live more safely.

Gevorg Chichyan

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