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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

To the sound of the duduk

Lviv is preparing to celebrate the Virmenska (Armenian) Street Day
14 August, 2013 - 17:55
Photo by Yevhen KRAVS

And there is much to celebrate! This year, the Armenian church of Lviv will celebrate its 650th anniversary, as Cathedral of the Assumption (incidentally, the only functioning shrine of the Armenian Apostolic Church in western Ukraine) was built in the late 14th century from 1363 to 1370 by the famous Lviv architect Dohring. Gradually, the Armenian Leopolitans built an architectural complex around the shrine, including a bell tower (1571), the archbishop’s palace (the 18th century), the Armenian Bank (the 17th century), the Benedictine Nunnery (1682), a column crowned with the figure of St. Christopher, fences and gates (the 17th to 19th century). It would be nonsensical to ask modern Leopolitans about their attitude to the Armenian architectural ensemble, because everybody [checked repeatedly! – Ed.] will tell you they like the “Virmenka” very much, and we would add that this quarter really has some magical and unfailingly effective charm.

An integral part of the ensemble is a carved wood chapel in the Armenian courtyard housing an altar painted with scenes from Jesus Christ’s passions on Calvary. The composition was disassembled in 2010 for restoration, which was carried out under the Common Heritage project by Ukrainian and Polish experts at the expense of the Polish ministry of culture. Actually, the restored Calvary altar will be reconsecrated on September 13-15, during celebrations in Virmenska Street. The event should bring the Minister of Culture of Poland to Lviv, The Day has learned from Vardkes Arzumanyan, a restaurateur and co-organizer of the festival. He added that the celebrations should be really spectacular, bringing together Armenians from around the world. For example, the guests will include relatives of Karol Mikula (1819-97), a composer, conductor, music folklorist, civic activist and director of the Galician Musical Society in Lviv. The organizers prepare an exhibition of paintings by another renowned Lviv artist of Armenian descent Antoni Stefanowicz (1858-1929) which is to feature his relatives as guests, too.

The festival will include a large concert program as well. In particular, the city has invited a world-renowned Armenian musician, composer, scholar of Armenian national music, professor of Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory, winner of four UNESCO gold medals Djivan Gasparyan, who will treat the audience to his playing the duduk, or “apricot trumpet.”

Of course, tourists and guests of the festival will be able to learn many interesting facts about the Armenian quarter of the city during free tours, all including stories about famous Galician Armenians such as the mayor of Lviv Jozef Bartlomiej Zimorowic (1597-1677), royal secretary of King Stanislaw August Poniatowski, councilor and mayor of the city Jozef Jaskiewicz (1719-94), chief justice of the Armenian court of Lviv, mayor of Lviv Jakub Teodor Bernatowicz (1713-89), lawyer, mayor of the city Godzimir Malachowski of Nalecz (1852-1908)...

The traditional Armenian cuisine will be well-represented at the festival, too.

By Tetiana KOZYRIEVA, The Day, Lviv