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If it is July, it is the time of the Festival–Masterclass of Byzantine Chant in Iași

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We have started registration for the 9th edition, 4-8 July 2016

This year’s edition will combine the holiday atmosphere of a festival via evening concerts, services and interactive meetings with that of a workshop, through various practical courses (Large Ensemble, Women’s Ensemble, courses of intonation and interval theory, canto and instrument technique). The academic level of the event will be increased, like every year, by lectures on liturgical, historical or palaeography topics, meant to complete the training that a Byzantine music chanter will receive during five days.

Main Topic

We shall focus our attention, via training courses in psaltic art interpretation, on the Relation between ornaments, intervals and accents in the musical execution of theseis. From a musical-liturgical perspective, this year, discussions will focus on a topic of fundamental significance: The dynamics of services. The synergy between analogia and the altar.

Courses of psaltic music interpretation

Our special guest is Panagiotis Neochoritis, Protopsaltis of the Metropolitan Cathedral „St. George” of Neapolis (Thessaloniki), a personality who, for those who attended the previous MCB edition, does not need further introduction. A disciple of Mathaios Tsamkiranis and a pursuer of the authentic chanting tradition, with a vast experience from the perspective of a chanter in the protopsaltis’ seat, director of the folk music school of the Neapolis Metropolitan Bishopric, father of several children who have taken over and continued his passion for singing and playing instruments, Mr Neochoritis has recently been selected, from the pleiades of great protopsaltic chanters of our Church, to fill in the position of the Protopsaltis of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, as a depute.

Other Greek guests. Mr Neochoritis will teach courses of psaltic art interpretation via interactive methods, with the help of the team of performers from the “Roman the Melodist” Cultural Association– from Thessaloniki, disciples with more than 10 – 15 years of experience of chanting and working with Mr Neochoritis.

Event opening

Like every year, the training programme will be preceded by an official opening of the event, which will be attended by representatives of the organizing institutions, the work team and its collaborators, together with invited professors and performers.
In the end, there will be a memorial service for the founders of this spiritual event, Protopsaltis Lykourgos Angelopoulos and Archimandrite Justin Pârvu.

Book launch

A moment that has been much waited for by the international community of Byzantine musicologists is the publication of the musical paleography course-book authored by Assoc. Prof. Maria Alexandru (“Aristotelis” University from Thessaloniki). The book launch will close the opening session of the 9th edition of the Masterclass.

Large Ensemble (and vocal technique courses for the psaltic style)

Active participants will benefit from psaltic interpretation courses within the Large Ensemble, given by Adrian Sîrbu (University of Arts „George Enescu” from Iași).

Women’s Ensemble (and vocal technique courses)

The Women’s Ensemble has been enjoying real success, bringing into discussion new and challenging elements of interpretation from a feminine perspective. The diversity and the practical aspect of the approached topics have led to an increasing number of participants in this original course. Soprano Mihaela Grăjdeanu (National Romanian Opera of Iași) has prepared an attractive series of courses in vocal technique for female participants, with practical advice for church singing. In addition, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Maria Alexandru will present information on the semantics of the interpretation of psaltic music.

Kanonaki courses

The kanonaki course has already become an emblematic activity of the Iasi Masterclass, through which Assoc. Prof. Dr. Maria Alexandru aims, on the one hand, to instruct those interested in the art of playing this ancient instrument and, on the other hand, to educate hearing via the non-temperate sonorities of the universe of Byzantine chants.

Lectures in musical history and paleography

This year too, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Maria Alexandru will give musical history and paleography lectures, in an interactive form, together with the Paleography Team of the “Aristotelis” University (Thessaloniki) and the Floralia group of the Byzantine Music specialization in the “G. Enescu” Arts University (Iași). Apart from other surprises, there will be three extremely interesting presentations: “On testimonials and apichimata in Byzantine music”, “The use of paleography for the contemporary psaltis” and “The Putna School – updates”. Also, Professor Nicolae Gheorghiță (National University of Music from Bucharest) will emphasize the role of the koinonikon in the liturgical context of the Holy Liturgy, while Father Filotheu Bălan will present the results of his latest research on the structure of melodic theses, from the old notation to Christantos’ notation. Protopsaltis Antonios Aetopoulos (Athens) will contribute to the musicological part of the event via a lecture on interval theory.

Concerts and vigil

The most important liturgical event in the programme of the event is the vigil service, where the two pews, animated by course participants, will aim to observe, as authentically as possible, the musical liturgical canons, as well as to perform spiritually. Using this vigil as a pretext for debates, we wish to organize a follow-up session and to simulate a rehearsal where we could receive suggestions and advice for pew chanting, from our special guest, Mr. Neochoritis.

The Byzantine Music Concert at the end of the edition will be the musical feast offered by the large MCB participant choir to the Iasi audience, in the Metropolitan Cathedral, with the blessing of Metropolitan Bishop Teofan. The musical host of the event, ”Byzantion” Academic Choir, will be present on stage together with surprise-guests, young performers from Romania.

We shall most gladly welcome you!

by Adrian Sîrbu

(Translated into English by Sorina Chiper)


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