Nov 21, 2014

Second Boston Byzantine Music Festival Celebrates the Musical Heritage of Byzantium

Professor Grammenos Karanos, Artistic Director of the Boston Byzantine Music Festival, performing with the DÜNYA ensemble. Photo: Niko Alexandrou, Eye on the Stage Photography

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The Boston Byzantine Music Festival, held on the Hellenic College Holy Cross campus on November 14th and 15th, celebrated the music of the Byzantine Empire through lectures, workshops, and performances. Music lovers attended lectures by Dr. Alexander Lingas (Artistic Director, Cappella Romana) and Dr. Mehmet Ali Sanlıkol (Director, DÜNYA ensemble) and joined festival artists in a series of workshops that covered topics from the sounds and rhythms of Mediterranean percussion instruments to the techniques of conducting a choir.

Festival goers were treated to two evening concerts. On Friday, the internationally‐acclaimed vocal ensemble Cappella Romana delighted a large audience with its most popular program, The Fall of Constantinople, a selection of Latin and Greek works composed during the final century of the Byzantine or Eastern Roman Empire. Alexander Lingas directed the performance.

An encore performance by the Archdiocesan Byzantine Choir of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, led by Dr. Demetrios Kehagias, opened the Saturday evening concert. Its program, Petros the Peloponnesian: Portrait of a Musical Genius, showcased the music of one of the greatest post‐Byzantine ecclesiastical composers. The concert concluded with A Fasıl for a Phanariot Beyzade, performed by the Boston‐based, Grammy‐nominated DÜNYA ensemble. Mehmet Ali Sanlıkol created the Festival program to reveal the cross‐fertilization between the Ottoman court, the Phanariot, and the great composers of the Orthodox Church, many of whom were also accomplished instrumentalists in the Ottoman classical tradition. The Holy Cross St. Romanos the Melodist Byzantine Choir, led by Dr. Grammenos Karanos, Artistic Director of the Boston Byzantine Music Festival, joined DÜNYA in a number of selections.

The Boston Byzantine Music Festival was presented by the Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture with the New York Life Center for the Study of Hellenism in Pontus and Asia Minor, both at Hellenic College Holy Cross. The Festival introduces contemporary audiences to Byzantine music, a tradition that spans over a thousand years, uses the world’s oldest notational system, and sits at the crossroads of East and West.