Lectures/Jan 26, 2016

Greeks, Latins and the Musical Culture of Late Byzantium

Greeks, Latins and the Musical Culture of Late Byzantium lead image

Greeks, Latins and the Musical Culture of Late Byzantium, lecture by Alexander Lingas (City University London), City University London, January 27, 2016, 5:30–7:30 pm

In modern times the musical traditions of Greek Orthodoxy have often been perceived as being in some sense starkly opposed to those of Latin Christianity. This is particularly true of listeners who take their initial impressions of stark differences between their respective musical forms and performance styles—for example, contrasting the chanting of a kalophonic heirmos by a Greek cantor to a choral rendition of a motet by Mozart—and then set them within frameworks opposing 'East' and 'West'.

This presentation will challenge the validity of such oppositions during the final centuries of Byzantium, when Greeks and Latins found themselves once again in close contact throughout the eastern Mediterranean. It will do so by discussing literary witnesses and notated manuscripts that testify to musical interaction between the two traditions, leading to a conclusion that the cultural position of Byzantine chant between East and West was far more ambiguous than is commonly thought.

Alexander Lingas is Reader in the Music Department at City University London, a Fellow of the European Humanities Research Centre of the University of Oxford, and founding director of the vocal ensemble Cappella Romana.