Sacred Imaginations 1

New and Ancient Music of the Christian East

30 September 2017 / 19:30

Susheela Raman and Sam Mills lead a journey through music of ritual, trance and contemplation with musicians from Syria, Greece, Russia, Ethiopia and India.

Although some Victorians wanted to believe that God was an Englishman, Christianity is not a Western religion. Born in the Eastern Mediterranean, it quickly spread further east to what is now Turkey and Iran and India, and south toward what is now Ethiopia. Christian music rests similarly on these Near Eastern foundations; the oldest Western plainchant and the earliest Hymns were modelled on older Syriac practice.

Sacred Imaginations looks back at these beginnings,but tonight’s performers also are 21st-century musicians, outside the church, who all have sought their own fresh creative approaches to this profound heritage. Among them are Syrian Strings, former members of the Syrian National Orchestra now based in Germany who will perform and sing music connected with the Syriac Aramaic tradition, Doros, one of Russia’s leading polyphonic vocal ensembles, Armenian Oud player and singer Haig Yazdjian, Ethiopia’s rising star Pianist and Singer Samuel Yirga and Greek master musicians Manos Achalinotopoulos, Christos Chalkias and Alexis Paharidis who interweave Byzantine Chant with the ecstatic music of the Balkans and the Pontic Black Sea Coast. The evening will mix ancient and new compositions, collaborations and improvisations, as these master musicians explore hidden connections and share new kinds of transcendence.

“Crazily ambitious..a thrilling musical journey and a triumph" *****’ The Arts Desk 2015 


Manos Achalinotopoulos clarinet 
Christos Chalkias vocals 
Alexis Parharidis vocals 
Haig Yazdjian oud, vocals 
Samuel Yirga piano 
Ismail Altunbas percussion 
Susheela Raman vocals 
Sam Mills guitar 
Pirashanna Theverajah percussion 

Syrian Strings: 
Sousan Eskandar violin, vocals 
Jehad Jazbeh violin 
Basilius Alawad violin

Doros Vocal Group: 
Vrujr Ananikyan tenor
Aleksandr Gorbatov tenor
Aleksandr Kamyshintsev baritone
Konstantin Senchenko bass-baritone
Bekseit Ryspaev bass

Produced by the Barbican

Barbican Contemporary Music
London’s home to the boldest new jazz, world, folk, contemporary classical, rock, pop & electronic music from across the globe.


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