Wednesday, October 22
Mirolybov: Kiitosstikiira (Cappella Romana’s recording) at approximately 9:26pm
Thursday, October 23 — 6pm
Tune in for an exclusive interview with guest conductor Bogdan Djaković!
Wednesday, October 22
Mirolybov: Kiitosstikiira (Cappella Romana’s recording) at approximately 9:26pm
Thursday, October 23 — 6pm
Tune in for an exclusive interview with guest conductor Bogdan Djaković!
Polyphonic singing appeared for the first time in Serbian churches in the 1830s as a result of European and Russian influence. The expansion of newly organized Serbian church choirs was enormous and very soon the main problem was the lack of indigenous sacred choral repertoire. With a restricted choice, these choirs used for the liturgy compositions by Russian and lesser known local, foreign authors – Gottfried Preyer and Benedict Randhartinger in Vienna, Francesco and Guieseppe Sinico in Trieste and Wilhelm Weiss von Berenfels in Petrinja. All these works were written without recourse to the traditional chant. In the early 1850s, a Serbian musician born in Budapest, Kornelije Stanković (1831-1865) who studied composition in Vienna, for the first time wrote down the chant in Western notation and harmonized it. His composition It is meet and right represents one of the most popular 4-part arrangements of a Serbian liturgical melody, believed to have been composed by a Serbian bishop and a well known Latin classical poet, Lukijan Mušicki (1777-1837).
Very much dedicated to romantic music genres (Lieder, music for the theatre, piano music, romantic and patriotic secular choral works) Josif Marinković (1851-1931), a Prague music student and the enthusiastic listener to Eduard Hanslik’s lectures in Vienna, in general wrote original Orthodox choral music. While the Our Father from the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom (1883-1889) is rather close to the 19th century Western motet, the beautiful arrangement of the traditional chant melody O Heavenly King Tone VI, shows his roots in Serbian Orthodox tradition.
The idea of Mokranjac’s (1856-1914) “classical” style in church choral music is based on the romantic style, but with classical proportions, artistic discipline and calm and subtle beauty. Besides the very good education he obtained during his studies – in Munich under Rheinberger, especially in Rome with Parisotti studying works of Palestrina and in Leipzig with Jadason and Reinecke – Mokranjac was a talented practical church musician. He always understood the chant repertoire as a tool for liturgical function, at the same time using it as his most important compositional material. In the terms of the choral structure, his typical “choral polyphony” brings delicate individualization of every choral line despite the rather complex polyphonic treatment, with its resulting stylistic purity. The most famous part from his Liturgy (1894/95) is the Cherubic Hymn based on a melody of Tone I, with its delicate use of polyphony and modal harmony. Another important part of Mokranjac’s sacred choral music are the original compositions, the “imaginative church music” that is to be found in his Opelo (Requiem, 1888). The interrupted harmonies that accompany the quasi-chant theme at the beginning of the heirmos No-one is as holy, make an unusually expressive effect, almost as though the remaining voices were “breathing”. The artistic approach in the Kontakion With the Saints is that of a very direct reaction to the text; after a short fugato, the music accompanies the spiritual content of the words in chromatic-enharmonic chord progressions, otherwise rarely used by him. The brighter sound of G major introduces the theme of eternal life. We praise Thee/Te Deum (1904) composed on the basis of the melody „Slavoslovije“ (Doxology) of the Tone VI, ranks among the best Mokranjac’s pieces. He wrote it in the year 1904 as an integral part of a repertoire prepared for the coronation ritual of the King Peter I Karađorđević. Through extraordinary sonorous and effective choral harmony it keeps the wonderful balance between the Western choral concept and the Orthodox style of chant arrangement.
Between 1918 and 1941, Serbian sacred choral music underwent a very interesting development. Through a general process of modernisation, composers’ approaches to church music were mainly artistic, though still strictly retaining liturgical function, at the same time becoming examples of contemporary musical expression, and presented mostly from the concert stage. The complex array of elements employed came from Western romantic and earlier choral music, as well as from traditional and modern aspects of Eastern Orthodox, especially Serbian, idioms. Composers moved freely through these stylistic fields, usually producing neo-romantic and eclectic pieces, mature concert-artistic works and even experimental music. In highly original pieces in particular, the lack of “chant material” was successfully replaced by the balanced treatment of all the other elements employed. In the communion hymn from his Liturgy (1931) O Lord, receive my prayer, the specific simplicity of Marko Tajčević’s (1900-1984) use of “diatonic sound with a modal flavour” often contrasts with traditional tonality. Imaginative church music also is also characteristic of Kosta Manojlović (1890-1948), who in the sphere of modality continued the style of his teacher Mokranjac, but making the polyphony more complex. His pieces With the Saints from his Opelo (Requiem, 1934) and the short Holy Serbian Saints represent the subtle modernization of this genre. Again, modality as a common harmonic idea unites the arrangements of the Troparia from Holy Friday (Noble Joseph and The Angel stood by the tomb) by Petar Konjović (1883-1971) and two heirmoi from the Easter matins, The angel cried, Tone I, and from the Liturgy of St. Basil the Great, All Creation Rejoices, Tone VIII, by Milenko Živković (1901-1964).
The outbreak of the Second World War, and the post-war socialist period of the second Yugoslavia, frustrated everything that had to do with the Church and church art. The turning point began in late 1980s, when all the Yugoslav nations (Croats, Slovenians, Albanians, Macedonians…) actually before the formal breakup of the federal country, strongly emphasized their own particular national values. The revival of Orthodox choral music among Serbian composers shows few mutual characteristics: strong neo-Mokranjac and neo-Russian Orthodox Choral orientation, original music without use of Serbian Chant, modal tonality, homophonic style with non-imitative polyphonic elements, or strong “concert” style. Vlastimir Peričić’s (1927-2000) harmonization of the Christmas prokeimenon Who is so great a God as our God (ps. 76:14, 15) (1998) represents a beautiful traditional approach with neoromantic harmonic language.
Serbian chant is a type of monodic music which has remained in use as part of the Church’s liturgy from the time of Cyril and Methodius (the 9th century) to our day. With the granting of the independence to the Serbian Church in 13th century and the gradual introduction of regional and national elements into the Old Church Slavonic language (Bulgarian, Serbian, etc), certain vernacular musical characteristics possibly found their way into Slavic versions of Byzantine chant. This came about mostly through the creation of new services in honour of Serbian saints. The most important method of transmission of these melodies has always been the oral tradition, though of course manuscripts of old Serbian Church music are extant, and serve as a guide to the tradition. They were all written in late Byzantine neumatic notation. About 140 Greek and Slavonic neumatic manuscripts from the 18th and 19th century are preserved in the Serbian monastery of Chilandar on the Holy Mountain, Mount Athos. The sticheron for St. Stephen of Dečani Rejoice, all ye western lands, Tone I, is an example of a beautiful melody based on a text from the Service of the Holy King Stephen (15th c.).
A hugely important stage in the development of Serbian chant, directly linked to the development of choral music in the 19th century, centred around the Metropolitanate of Sremski Karlovci. At the end of the 17th century, after Austria’s defeat in the Balkans, under the pressure of Turkish atrocities, the great mass of the Serbian population, organized by their Patriarch, Arsenije Čarnojević, left their ancient homeland, the region of Kosovo. These emigrés took with them the holy relics of the medieval Serbian princes and martyrs, icons, manucripts and early printed books, all of which helped them to preserve their national integrity, religious faith and distinctive culture. While coming into contact with the music of Western Europe and Russian Church music, the Serbian chant underwent some changes. There was, in fact, a process of adapting the old modal melodies to the major and minor tonal system and creating a form of chanting known as Karlovačko pojanje. The Christmas sticheron The Magi, kings of Persia, Tone V, displays a highly Eastern character through its melismatic melody. The traditional Serbian song Holy, holy, holy from the Liturgy of St. Basil, from the repertoire of veliko pojanje (Great chant) through its mixolydian melodic structure, also shows strong Byzantine roots.
Now in his 27th season directing the Choir of St. George’s Cathedral in Novi Sad, Serbia, Bogdan Djaković is one of the world’s leading experts in Serbian Orthodox Choral Music.
Bogdan Djaković has established himself as an international director, leading performances in Italy, Great Britain, France, Spain, Germany, Greece, Slovenia, Croatia, Portugal, Switzerland and Sweden. He makes his US debut directing Cappella Romana this month.
Dr. Djaković makes his home in Serbia’s historically-turbulent northern region, which for generations has been subject to competing cultural influences. He has devoted his career to exploring the meeting of East and West in Serbian choral music. His program “Sacred Songs of Serbia” presents traditional Eastern Orthodox sources filtered through Western European musical colors and techniques, creating works of resplendent beauty.
Dr. Djaković is Professor of Choral Literature at the Academy of Arts in Novi Sad, as well as Professor of Art, Medicine & Art Therapy at the University of Novi Sad. He has also held positions on the Executive Board of Radio & Television in Vojvodina, Serbia, on the Regional Artistic Committee of the European Choral Association Europa Cantat, and on the Organization Board for Serbia’s most prestigious national choral festivals.
Under his direction, the St. George’s Cathedral Choir has recorded for Radio-Novi Sad, Radio and Television Belgrade, and the BBC3.
Read his full bio here:
Dr. Bogdan Djaković (Novi Sad, 1966), musicologist and choir conductor graduated from the Faculty of Music, Belgrade, Musicology Department. His research in the history of Serbian music is focused on the development of Orthodox Church Music in the 19th and 20th centuries. In 2013 he defended his Phd thesis “The functional and stylistic-aesthetic elements in the Serbian Church Choral Music from the first half of the 20th century”.
Since 1994 he has been Assistant at the Academy of Arts in Novi Sad, Department for Musicology, and in 2002 he became Professor of Choral Literature at the Department of Composition and Musical Theory. He also teaches Art and Medicine and Art Therapy at the Medical Faculty of the University of Novi Sad. From 2006 through 2011, he was a member of the Executive Board of the Radio & Television of Vojvodina.
Following a number of years of singing in several Serbian and Yugoslav choirs, he founded the church singing society “St. Stephen of Dečani,” and in 1987 founded the St. George’s Cathedral Choir in Novi Sad, which he has conducted since its founding. In addition to regular participation in services in the Cathedral of St. George with the blessing of His Eminence Bishop of Backa Dr. Irinej Bulovic, this choir appears in many municipal and national events significant for the expansion of the Christian Orthodox and national culture. The choir has sung at various services and special occasions all around Serbia including its famous monasteries (at the Fruška gora mountain, Studenica, Žiča, Sopoćani, Kalenić, Pećka patrijaršija and Dečani at Kosovo).
Since 1993, St. George’s Cathedral Choir has represented the Serbian Orthodox Church at the European meetings of young Christians, organized by the monks of Taize monastery (France), in Munich, Paris (1994, 2002), Wroclaw, Stuttgart, Vienna, Milano (1997, 2005), Taize (1999, 2000), Warsaw, Barcelona, Lisbon, Budapest and Geneva. Also beginning in 1993, Bogdan Djaković took part as an assistant-conductor with musicologist Dr. Dimitrije Stefanovic (Oxon.) at seventeen Summer Schools of Orthodox chant (15th -19thc.) and choral music (19th-20thc.), dedicated to the first modern educated Serbian musician Kornelije Stanković (1831-1865), which where organized in several towns and monasteries in Serbia and Hungary. He attended a master class on choral conducting led by Profs. Uwe Gronostay and Hartmut Haenchen in Harlem/Holland (2003).
He also conducts the Chamber Choir of the Academy of Arts, University of Novi Sad and the Kotor-Art Festival Choir (Montenegro). He has been appointed as a member of the Jury or member of the Organization Board of some of the most prestigious Serbian choral festivals (The Days of Josif Marinković/Novi Bečej, The Chamber Choir Festival/Kragujevac, The Mokranjac festival/Negotin).
As artistic director he organized the first Singing Week Cantat Novi Sad 2011 through the European Choral Association Europa Cantat, and has been member of the organizing team for three Hearts in Harmony festivals in Novi Sad (2011, 2012, 2013), as well as being a member of the Regional Artistic Committee for the upcoming Pecs Cantat Festival (Europa Cantat) in 2015.
Bogdan Djaković performed at the Yugoslav cultural center in Paris, at the St. Ambrogio Cathedral in Milano, at the Norwich Cathedral (Great Britain), at the St. Stephan church in Padova (Italy), at the St. Augusto Cathedral in Barcelona (Spain), at the St. Alessandro church in Bergamo (Italy), at the Magdalene church in Paris (France), at the St. Pauli church in Hamburg (Germany), at the St. Nicolas Cathedral church in Ljubljana (Slovenia), at the St. Domingo church in Lisbon (Portugal), at the State Conservatory in Thessaloniki (Greece), at the St. Sophia church in Stockholm (Sweden), at the concert hall of Croatian Music Institution, Zagreb (Croatia), at the St. Paul’s church in Schwerin (Germany), and recently at the Serbian church in Bern (October, 2013), Serbian church in Trieste (October, 2013). The St. George’s Cathedral choir has recorded for Radio-Novi Sad, Radio and Television Belgrade, BBC3.
Some of the most important concerts were: the Norwich & Norfolk Festival in Great Britain (1999, 2002) the Belgrade BEMUS Music Festival in Serbia (2004), The XXI Festival Des Cathedrales de Picardie in Abbeville in France (2008), The St. Dimitrius Festival in Thessaloniki in Greece (2008), XVII Vaasa Choral Festival in Finland (2009), Kotor-Art Festival in Montenegro (2009), The City Hall in Dortmund in Germany (2011), Festival dedicated to the 100 years Russian Orthodox church in Amsterdam / Holland (2012), Mediterranean Voices Festival and Conference, Girona in Spain (July, 2013).
Bogdan Djaković is a regular member of the Department for Theater & Musical Arts at the Matica Srpska, Novi Sad, a member of the Serbian Society for Musicology, and a member of the ISOCM association (The International Society of Orthodox Church Music) under the aegis of the Department of the Orthodox Theology of the Faculty of Theology at the University of Joensuu, Finland.
He has participated in twelve international musicological conferences, including Struga/Macedonia (1998), Nicosia/Cyprus (2000), Joensuu/Finland (2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013), St. Petersburg/Russia (2006), London (Goldsmiths, Centre for Russian Music /Alfred Schnittke: Between Two Worlds, 2009) and Banja Luka/Bosnia & Hercegovina (2011, 2012, 2013), as well as many musicological conferences in Serbia in Novi Sad/Matica srpska, at the Musicological Institute of the Serbian Academy of Science & Arts, Belgrade Faculty of Music and Philological Faculty in Kragujevac. He has published forty musicological studies and over thirty music critics and has produced four audio editions/compact discs and one DVD edition with St. George’s Cathedral Choir.
As a conductor Bogdan Djaković covers the repertoire of Serbian, Russian and Bulgarian Orthodox medieval chant and monophonic tradition of 18th and 19th century, early Russian polyphonic music (17th century), as well as Orthodox, Anglican, and Catholic choral music of the 19th, 20th and 21st century, including some of the well know contemporary names (Sir John Tavener, Arvo Part, Ivan Moody, Xavier Busto, Ron Watson, Tikey Zes, Mikko Sidoroff, Bishop Ilarion Alfejev, Alfred Schnittke, Peter Aston). Along with cultivating all forms of Christian church music, Bogdan Djaković is trying to stimulate active Serbian composers to revive this musical genre by new works (Jasmina Mitrušić, Rajko Maksimović, Alexandra Vrebalov, Alexander Damjanović, Svetislav Božić). In 2006 he gave a world-premiere performance of the “Seven Hymns of St. Sava” by Ivan Moody (Novi Sad, 1964), as well as the “Hymn to St. Nikolas” (Kotor, 2009) by the same composer.
This Saturday (October 11) at the Church of the Annunciation, Milwaukie, OR, Cappella Romana favorite Mark Bailey will lead an interactive, full-day seminar/workshop focused on the actualization of music in Orthodox Christian worship so as to “enable a comprehensive and elevated liturgical experience through insightful and skilled leadership and participation.” Guest speakers will include His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West and Archpriest Lawrence Margitich, Chair of the Department of Liturgical Music of the Diocese of the West.
Mark Bailey, a leading expert in the field of Orthodox liturgical music, will lead the seminar. Having earned his degrees from the Eastman School of Music and the Yale School of Music/Yale Institute of Sacred Music, he served on the faculty of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, Yonkers, NY, for over 15 years. He also is credited with several recordings of Orthodox sacred music, including “The Heart of Kyiv” with Pro Coro Canada. He serves as artistic director of the Yale Russian Chorus and the American Baroque Orchestra, and he frequently guest conducts ensembles including Cappella Romana, the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, and most recently the Portland Baroque Orchestra (with Cappella Romana).
The Chicago Tribune has a great feature on the Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium From Greek Collections exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago where Cappella Romana will perform on November 16th, and says the music of Cappella Romana is already bringing the exhibit to life:
“Evidence of Byzantine spiritual life dominates ‘Heaven and Earth.’ In fact, its soft ‘treasury’ lighting and piped-in Byzantine chants by Cappella Romana affect the mysterious, multisensory experience of attending an Orthodox church, sans incense.”
A wonderful new review of our concert at the Utrecht Early Music Festival by Marianne Driessen has been translated into English by our friend Maria Armstrong.
“When I first started this blog, I really had made the resolution to not write about music. I do not know much about it, and my ear is not very sharp. But yesterday, I attended the Oude Muziek festival in Utrecht and heard Cappella Romana in the St. Augustinus church. This American ensemble sang Byzantine music. Long, sustained and resonating tones, such as you never hear in Western music. I could hear and feel the music vibrate under my hands and feet in the pew. Music so dense that I thought I could breathe in the sound.
Part of the performance was sung with the singers’ back turned toward the audience. I have heard about these situations in stories from my parents. During church services, priests, altar servants and choir were serving facing the altar. A situation that many find old fashioned these days, because there is no contact with the people present in the church this way. I seemed a puzzling practice to me too, standing with your back to the audience to sing or speak. How is that a way of being together? And how do you know what the effect is of what you are doing?
Yesterday, in the full glory of the dedication of the singers and the beauty of the music, I suddenly understood. The primary aim of this music is not any audience. Something is being celebrated that is bigger than us, the listeners. And this was being shaped in a reserved way with symbolic, inward movement: the backs to the audience, the faces towards the most important point of focus in the space. I did not experience a disconnect because of this, but just the opposite, an invitation to enter and join the glorious feast in this same inward way.” —Marianne Driessen