Armenian Genocide Monument in The Heart of Paris

PARIS–Despite ongoing attempts by Turkish authorities to obstruct efforts of Paris-based Armenia’s to erect a memorial dedicated to the Armenian Genocide of 1915–the unveiling of the monument will nevertheless symbolically take place on April 24.

The monument–conceived and sculpted by David Yerevantsi portrays three events. The main statue of Gomidas Vartabed will honor the 1915 martyrs–the statue of a little boy to the right of the main statue will symbolize the Armenian people and its renaissance–while the Khachkar (cross-stone) on which Gomidas is leaning–will symbolize Armenian culture.

Sponsored by the President of the French Republic Jacques Chirac–and headed by the Mayor of Paris Bertrand Delanoe–the official opening ceremony of the monument will take place on April 24–2003. The chair of the French-Armenian Union Ara Grigorian and the Armenian Ambassador to France Eduard Nalbandian will participate in the ceremony.

Before the unveiling–a special requiem service–dedicated to the memory of the Armenian Genocide martyrs–will be performed at the Armenian Apostolic Cathedral of John the Baptist; the procession will move to the Arc de Triumph for a traditional ceremony dedicated to the memory of the Unknown Soldier–then to the site of the monument to be located in the park between the Armenian Cathedral on Jean-Goujon–and Champs Elysee–near the Seine River.

This year–instead of gathering at the Turkish Embassy–French Armenia’s will come together at the monument were writer and journalist Gerard Sahalian is expected to deliver a speech. The monument will be blessed by Catolicosal Delegate to Europe Archbishop Kude Nacachian.

The Paris Mayor’s office unanimous reached a decision back in 2001 to honor both the victims of the Armenian Genocide–as well as those Armenian soldiers who died for France.

The monument will be 4-meters high and sculpted from bronze. The base of the statue will feature an inscription in French and Armenian–"In honor of composer and ethnomusicologist Gomidas Vartabed and to the 1.5 million Armenian martyrs who perished during the first genocide of 20th century in the Ottoman Empire."

Gomidas Vartabed (Shoghomon Shoghomonian) best symbolizes the Armenian spirit–the martyrs of 1915–and Armenian culture.

Orphaned at age 11–he was sent to study liturgical singing at a seminary in Vagarshapat (now Etchmiadzin) in Armenia. He graduated in 1893 and adopted the name Gomidas–that of a 7th-century Armenian hymn writer. He had already become interested in Armenian folk songs as well as church music–and he began composing his own music on Armenian motifs while studying composition in Berlin in 1896-99. On his return to Armenia he began collecting Armenian folk songs in earnest–and he eventually accumulated several thousand. He also published numerous papers on the subject and sang Armenian songs himself at concerts he organized in western Europe–arousing international interest in his countrymen’s music. He settled in Constantinople in 1910–but the Armenian massacres of 1915 in Turkey so affected him that he had a nervous breakdown–and from 1919 until his death he lived in a Paris hospital.

Gomidas was the most important collector of Armenian folk songs–and his exact and detailed research scientifically established Armenian musicology. His own folk-based songs and choruses and his liturgical chants are still popular among Armenia’s–many of whom regard him as their foremost composer.

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