Turkmenistan president’s hymn sets new record

Turkmenistan president’s hymn sets new record

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan - Agence France-Presse
Turkmenistan president’s hymn sets new record

Artists perform during the ceremony for the presentation of the world's biggest yurt (traditional dwelling of nomadic turkmen people), which was included in the Guinness Book of Records in the city of Mary, Turkmenistan on November 28, 2015. AFP PHOTO / IGOR SASIN

A choir of 4,166 people in Turkmenistan has broken a world record by singing a hymn penned by the nation’s strongman president, in the latest choreographed show of support. 

The rendition of ‘Forward, only forward, my dear country Turkmenistan’ by President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov entered the Guinness Book of Records for most people singing in the round, a Guinness employee told AFP by email on Nov. 30.

“I was witness to a huge surge of patriotism as Turkmen citizens performed in a single breath the song of the head of state,” Şeyda Subaşı, an adjudicator of Guinness World Records, told Turkmen state television after last week’s performance.   The performance featured a big-screen video of Berdymukhamedov playing a synthesizer and singing along with his people.

The song was performed inside a giant yurt - a traditional nomadic tent dwelling in Central Asia - which measured 35 meters in height and 70 meters in diameter.  

Singing in the round is when performers sing the same piece but start at different times so that the music overlaps.   

The previous holder of the record was tech firm Google, whose 3,798 company employees sang pop musician Pharell’s song ‘Happy’ in the Irish capital Dublin in September.  

The record-busting is not the first by Turkmenistan, which has claimed a number of unusual titles in recent years.   

After coming to power in 2006 following the death of Saparmurat Niyazov, ‘the Father of the Turkmen’, Berdymukhamedov set about reducing signs of his predecessor’s bizarre cult of personality and creating space for his own.

In May this year the government unveiled a golden-leaf statue of Berdymukhamedov on horseback in downtown Ashgabat, echoing a similar effigy to Niyazov that once rotated to follow the sun’s movements in central Ashgabat but has since been relocated to the suburbs.

In August the country published Berdymukhamedov’s ‘Forward only forward’ poem, later converted into a hymn.