I had the honour of appearing with Cappella Romana, the vocal ensemble I founded in 1991, at the very first Iași Byzantine Music Festival. For my colleagues and me this was an unforgettable occasion. The gracious hospitality and meticulous organisation of festival staff and volunteers facilitated an astounding range of opportunities to encounter in worship, concerts,and lectures a broad cultural and chronological range of music.From the sacred chant of late antique basilicas to the court repertories of eighteenth-century Moldavia and Wallachia, this represented the rich inheritance of traditions now commonly called ‘Byzantine’. Not in all my years of involvement with the study and performance of this music had I experienced so much of it presented with such musical and scholarly excellence over only a few days. Also to be treasured were the cross-cultural human connections forged duringthe many formal and informal occasions for interchange with other performers, festival staff, and the general public.
Having been invited by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Teofan of Moldavia and Bukovina to join the Scientific Committee of the Iași Byzantine Music Festival, I am grateful for the opportunity to watch and, in a modest way, to assist distinguished colleagues in guiding its continued growth. In so doing, I continue to be amazed by the breadth of vision displayed by its organisers. Even as it retained its core focus on leading practitioners of the received traditions of Byzantine chanting employed today by millions of Orthodox Christians across a geographic arc from the Middle East to Moldavia (and beyond), in its second iteration the Iași Byzantine Music Festival extended its reach North (to Russia, with the pioneering vocal ensemble Sirin) and West (with the eminent Marcel Pérès both directing Ensemble Organum and lecturing on Latin plainchant).I look forward with great anticipation to my next visit to the lovely city of Iași for the festival’s third edition, which promises once again to offer a unique mix of traditional Orthodox worship, warm hospitality, and fascinating musical discoveries from Byzantium and beyond (including Hungary and Georgia).
Alexander Lingas, Ph.D.
Archon Mousikodidaskalos of the Great Church of Christ
Reader in Music, City, University of London
Founder and Musical Director, Cappella Romana