The choir’s name, musicAeterna byzantina (‘eternal Byzantium’ in Greek), speaks for itself. Founded by conductor Teodor Currentzis in 2018 as a member of the musicAeterna ‘family,’ the new choir is meant to rediscover the treasures of Byzantine musical culture, including the ancient Greek church singing. The choir works under tenor Antonios Koutroupis, an alumnus of the vocal department of the Rimsky-Korsakov St. Petersburg state conservatory, and an honorary right-side cantor of the Greek orthodox cathedral of Saint George in Venice.
The choir consists of sixteen best graduates of schools of Byzantine music in Greece. Apart from having many-year experience of singing Byzantine chants, each of them has been listening to this music since childhood and has made a step-by-step way to perfection: from a common reader to a right-side cantor, the principal position in a Byzantine choir.
The rehearsals of musicAeterna byzantina choir combine classical vocal training and ancient traditions of Greek sacred singing. Depth and significance of each Byzantine hymn are embodied in the unique melodic patterns which require careful work on phrasing, vocal expression, and precise unisons. The sound of ancient Greek scales takes the listener, who is accustomed to temperament, to the times when music was as openly sacred in its purpose as ever.
After an acclaimed debut at the Diaghilev Festival in Perm in May 2019, musicAeterna byzantina performed successfully in Vienna, Saint-Petersburg (Philharmonia, Saint Isaac’s Cathedral), Moscow (Great Hall of the Conservatory), Paris (Théâtre du Châtelet, Sainte Chapelle), Baden-Baden (Festspielhaus) and Athens (Megaron).
Later this season musicAeterna byzantina will debut at Lucerne Festival and Salzburg Festival with an a cappella program together with musicAeterna choir.
Teodor Currentzis, artistic director of the musicAeterna byzantina сhoir:
“I think the ancient music of the orient allows us to see music in general from a different perspective. Greek orthodox music takes its origin in ancient music, where they don’t say ‘I sing,’ they use the word ‘ψαλλω,’ ‘a psalm.’ This is an entirely different way of communicating with a different purpose. What I mean is, I am not playing music for you to enjoy, I am not trying to do it beautifully; I am standing here unveiled before my hope for God. And that is hope for light.”