Concert Review: Sacred Music Festival

Why an Estonian choir should sing religious chants in an characteristically Middle Eastern melismatic style remains unexplained.

August 31, 2013 22:09
1 minute read.
Jerusalem Academy Choir and String Ensemble

Jerusalem Academy Choir and String Ensemble. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Sacred Music Festival
Two Choirs in One Concert
YMCA, August 21

Two full-length concerts with no common musical denominator – the Estonian Vox Clamantis choir conducted by Jaan-Eik Tulve and the Greek Tropos choir conducted by Konstandinos Angelidis – were crammed into a single never-ending performance in what amounted to amateurish programming on the part of the Jerusalem Sacred Music Festival’s organizers.

Why an Estonian choir should sing religious chants in an characteristically Middle Eastern melismatic, heavily embellished style, in Aramaic, Arabic and Hebrew – the latter presumably as a courtesy – remains unexplained.

However, despite the flexible microtonal melismata, the singing was rendered in strict unison, and moreover sounded involved, with warm emotional expression, granting the religious chants, especially in the concluding Halleluiah, a flavor of “serving the Lord with joy.”

Yair Dalal on oud and violin, accompanied by drumming and vocals, contributed some folkloric diversity.

The Tropos choir’s solemn, objective and restrained chanting provided a striking contrast to the Vox Clamantis’more lively, relaxed and communicative style. Tropos made one feel transported from the secularity of the YMCA to the severity of the Greek Orthodox church. It represented religiosity in the formal sense of the term.

In the absence of a printed program or song titles, it is impossible, unfortunately, to comment on any particular items.

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