Transcender 2017: Sacred Imaginations 1 at Barbican Centre

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New and Ancient Music of the Christian East

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.


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

Venue Details & Map

Barbican Centre

Silk Street
+44 (0)20 7638 8891
Public transport:
Tube: Moorgate/Barbican Train: Liverpool Street

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