Byzantium… Everyone has his or her own perception of that legendary empire renowned for its great saints and emperors, marvelous icons and mosaics, magnificent Churches and palaces. Majestic Hagia Sophia is the wonder of the world and the epitome of Byzantine architecture. Besides that, Byzantine music is an undisputed part of the heritage of mankind.
“My Byzantium” album is a collection of chants, which should help modern listener contemplate on above-mentioned treasures of the ancient Byzantium. The album was created by Edward Lange, a soloist of the Festive Choir of St Elisabeth Convent in Minsk. Edward Lange is a graduate of Belarusian State Academy of Music who is known to have composed music with lyrics by Hieromonk Roman (Matyushin).
The current album features the singing style resembling Church and folk music traditions of the Balkan peninsular. The singer seems to intentionally prefer Serbian pronunciation for the chants performed in Church-Slavonic language. Unique timbre of the Edward’s voice does achieve the main goal of the album, i.e. revealing antiquity through modern sound.
I have to mention, however, that the album lacks Greek language. There is the word “Byzantium” in the title, after all. And the only chant performed in Greek language, “It is Truly Meet”, is ironically the shortest track of the album. Indeed, a lot of Slavic nations, including Serbia, Bulgaria, and Macedonia were part of the Byzantine Empire. Nonetheless, it was the Greek culture that constituted the Empire’s backbone. On the other hand, the use of Kratima, an old melismatic element of Greek Orthodox music, adds a touch of traditional Greek style to the album.
Above all, the album’s primary mission is spreading the faith among those people who are doing first steps in their search for God. It should be noted that jazz is one of music genres where Edward Lange is active too. So, I believe that many people from our modern secular society will obviously become curious to discover the “spiritual repertoire” of a young and talented jazz singer. In its turn, this may be the turning point in their spiritual life. Perhaps, one day they will cross the threshold of the Church.
You can visit the Catalog of St. Elisabeth Convent to listen to a short preview of the album.
By Vladimir Sypchu,
the chorister of the parish of
the Entry of the Most Holy Mother of God into the Temple
The Catalog of Good Deeds, 2018