ByzantiAeterna choir founded on the initiative of Theodor Currentzis in 2018 as a part of musicAeterna “family” performed in Russia in March of 2019 for the first time. The collective gave three concerts within the Dyaghilev Festival-2019. The musicians presented samples of Byzantine church music as well as participated together with musicAeterna choir in the concert devoted to the contemporary composer, one of the gurus of XX–XXI centuries’ music Arvo Pärt.
ByzantiAeterna choir consists of twelve best graduates of schools of Byzantine music in Greece. The conductor Theodor Currentzis founded the choir in 2018. It sets the goal of rediscovering the treasures of Byzantine musical culture including the ancient Greek church singing. The rehearsal process of ByzantiAeterna choir combines academic vocal practices and ancient traditions of Greek church singing. The depth and the capacity of the texts of each Byzantine hymn are delivered via unique melodic patterns requiring exquisite work at the phrasing, sound expression, perfect unisons. The sounding of ancient Greek tunes takes the listener, who is used to keyboard tuning, back to the times when the music unprecedentedly displayed its sacred meaning.
I think that the ancient music of the East helps us change the understanding of the rest of the music. Greek orthodox music derives from the ancient music, they don’t say: “I sing” there, there is a word “psalm”, «ψαλλω». This is a different direction and a different goal. A different way of interaction. I mean: I don’t play music so that you listen to it and I am not trying to perform beautifully; I bare myself in front of my hope on God. This is the hope for the light.
Byzantine chanting performed by ByzantiAetern sounded in Russia for the first time within Dyaghilev Festival-2019. Two concerts at the sunrise “Quiet Light” under the arches of Perm Art Gallery became one of the major events of the second part of the festival and a unique emotional experience for the visitors.
The main thing about the Byzantine music is the word. Because the voice is the most sincere instrument. For example, when we listen to the piano, playing something in a minor key, someone would say: “I feel that this is winter”,the other would say: “I feel that this is love”, but there is no one definite association. Only voice can convey via text the most sincere and definite meanings. That is why there are no musical instruments and no polyphonic sounding in Byzantine music. And the main thing for us is to understand these spiritual hymns, deep texts that were written by people for the development of a human and salvation of his soul.
Another debut took place the day before. ByzantiAeterna and musicAeterna performed for the first time together at the Perm Opera and Ballet Theatre. During an hour and a half two choirs performed in turns pieces by one of the most prominent contemporary composers Arvo Pärt dated different years and orthodox hymns ascending to early Christian and Byzantine traditions.
The performance of the choir took place under the support of the Aksenov Family Foundation. The official representative of ByzantiAeternaat the territory of Russia is RDI.CREATIVE.
Promotion of the projects based on an enlightenment mission is one of the key goals of Aksenov Family Foundation. The depth of the sounding and of the meaning of the program by ByzantiAeterna choir stuns me and I am happy that Theodor Currentzis and Antonios Koutroupis have great plans to develop this project together with us.
Very soon after these performances both collectives could be seen at two major European scenes in the short run. In October 2019, both choirs performed at Chatelet Theatre in Paris and participated in the Baden-Baden Festival in November.