A Byzantine Mass

Istanbul Music Festival, Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts, Turkey

The Istanbul Music Festival has aimed to enlarge the contemporary music repertoire by issuing commissions for new works both to internationally established composers as well as to young and upcoming ones since 2011. For 2014 the festival has commissioned the Russian composer Alexander Raskatov with a new choral work. Beside this new piece, his Viola Concerto will be played by Yuri Bashmet. This will also be a Turkish premiere.

Byzantine Mass is a work for mixed choir and orchestra. Raskatov says he wishes to establish a path linking the cultural past of Istanbul via Constantinople and Russia. The Orthodox religion came to old Russia from the Byzantine Empire. When working on this new work, he tried to find a key connection between two musical languages, old Byzantine and old Russian. The aim here was to unearth an artistic synthesis which could unite oriental Byzantine style and its genesis with transformation into typical Russian syntax. Texts were used here by Efrem Sirin, a great ecclesiastic poet of the 4th century who greatly influenced Russian religion and culture. In line with Efrem Sirin’s 6 prayers, the Byzantine Mass consists of 6 movements. He aims to keep in all of them a confessional spirit of this poetry. The goal is to gain a new perspective on the ancient proto-elements of these two musical cultures.

June 13, 2014
Hagia Eirene Museum, Istanbul, Turkey

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