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article imageSongs of praise: Turkmenistan president's hymn sets new record

By AFP     Nov 30, 2015 in World

A choir of 4,166 people in isolated ex-Soviet 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 Monday.

"I was witness to a huge surge of patriotism as Turkmen citizens performed in a single breath the song of the head of state," Seyda Subasi, 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 synthesiser 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 metres in height and 70 metres 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.

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