Vassilis Klephtakis: Greek Orthodox Oratorio „Maria“ (audio)

While driving a car, on Good Friday (by Gregorian calendar), and listening to the music on Dutch NPO4, I had an unusual and beautiful experience listening for the first time to a contemporary orthodox oratorio, a musical genre in which , by definition, instrumental music plays an important role. Until quite recently, I thought that this was very infrequent in the orthodox musical culture[1], and the insert I heard on the radio affected me very deeply. Alas, my trip was of a very short duration, but I did my best to remember the composer’s name: Calliope Tsoupaki, mentioned by the radio announcer, as well as the title of this oratorio, making up my mind to acquire a CD of it. Although being neither professionally musically educated, nor having had a profound religious upbringing, I could discern that its music has a strong Greek national character and that the vocal part is based on the traditions of Byzantine church chanting. I feel that the combination of these two aspects was what grabbed my attention and my heart. The announcer told that the premiere of this oratorio was in 2012, also at, or around the Good Friday, and from his words I understood that the composer’s concept was to look at the matter from the perspective of the Mother of all mothers, Maria, who contemplates on the birth,  life and death of Her Son on the Cross.

tsoupaki

Calliope Tsoupaki

Not being able to find a CD on the market, I addressed the NPO4 desk asking thir suggestion on how to find the CD. They informed me that there are, indeed,  no commercially available CD’s and advised me to contact the composer, giving me her e-mail address. I wrote her a letter asking for information I needed. She kindly answered that a CD was, indeed, never issued and the she is contemplating to put the work on YouTube, asking me, since my last name is Greek, whether I was also orthodox myself. A short correspondence ensued… I’ve told her about my descedence and family history in short, and that I am collaborating on a moderate scale with a Serbian internet site “Стање ствари“ (https://stanjestvari.com/) whose focus is not only on politics, but also on the aspects of orthodoxy. Thereupon, she sent me the registration of the 2012 Amsterdam concert.

Listening repeatedly to this music, while translating into Serbian the texts of the Metropolitan of Limassol, Athanasius , and of  Protopresbyter  Andrey Tkachev[2] ,  I sincerely beleive that this music, with its soul-healing and inspirational effects  facilitated me to find better and more appropriate  expressions.

This has brought me to an idea of proposing to the Editor of this site, Mr. Alexander Lazich to publish  – for the first time on this site a musical piece. And – why not?  Altough, as far as I know, instrumental music is not acceptable for the lithurgical services in Orthodox Churches (with a possible exclusion of church bell tolling – such as in “perezvon“ in Russian Orthodox Church[3]), this, as an oratorio, is not an integral part of lithurgical service, and I feel that at least some of us may like it and find in it a spiritual satisfaction. The Editor accepted my suggestion, and the composer kindly granted us her permission. So – listen to it, and draw your own conclusions.

Calliope Tsoupaki: „Maria“

_______________________

[1] Soon afterwards, I understood that there still are some examples. I am citing here two Russian oratoria (with recordings) and two Serbina onse (unfortunately, without recordings). The author of two Russai oratoria is Metropolitan of Volokolam, Illaryon Alpheyev. They are entitled: “Matheus Passion“ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vx_K-0DES_Y&list=PL532112B178970BB6&index=19), and “Christmas Oratorio“ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vx_K-0DES_Y&list=PL532112B178970BB6&index=19). Serbian ones are: an older one – from the year 1912 : Stevan Hristich’s oratorio “The Ascension“ http://www.rts.rs/page/radio/ci/story/1464/%D0%A0%D0%B0%D0%B4%D0%B8%D0%BE+%D0%91%D0%B5%D0%BE%D0%B3%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%B4+3/1882199/%D0%9E%D1%80%D0%B0%D1%82%D0%BE%D1%80%D0%B8%D1%98%D1%83%D0%BC+%E2%80%9E%D0%92%D0%B0%D1%81%D0%BA%D1%80%D1%81%D0%B5%D1%9A%D0%B5%E2%80%9D+%D0%A1%D1%82%D0%B5%D0%B2%D0%B0%D0%BD%D0%B0+%D0%A5%D1%80%D0%B8%D1%81%D1%82%D0%B8%D1%9B%D0%B0.html ), and “The Calvary of Yasenovats“, by Alexander S.Vujich from the year of 2013   (http://www.jadovno.com/novosti-pregled/items/premijera-oratorijuma-golgota-jasenovacka.html )

[2] https://stanjestvari.com/2015/04/11/%D0%BC%D0%B8%D1%82%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%BF%D0%BE%D0%BB%D0%B8%D1%82-%D0%BB%D0%B8%D0%BC%D0%B0%D1%81%D0%BE%D0%BB%D1%81%D0%BA%D0%B8-%D0%B0%D1%82%D0%B0%D0%BD%D0%B0%D1%81%D0%B8%D1%98%D0%B5-%D1%81%D0%BC%D0%B8/  and

https://stanjestvari.com/2015/04/17/%D0%BF%D1%80%D0%BE%D1%82%D0%BE%D1%98%D0%B5%D1%80%D0%B5%D1%98-%D0%B0%D0%BD%D0%B4%D1%80%D0%B5%D1%98-%D1%82%D0%BA%D0%B0%D1%87%D0%BE%D0%B2-%D0%BD%D0%B5%D0%B1%D0%BE-%D0%B8-%D0%B7%D0%B5%D0%BC%D1%99%D0%B0/

[3]According to the Brokhaus Efron’s Dictionary (Spb., 1890-1907), this is according to the Russian Orthodox Church’s Constitution done by several church bells – one by one: first on the biggest, thereupon on the medium-sized, and finally on the smallest, etc. This manner of bell tolling is called in Russian:  „звон перебором“ and was used during the coronation of the monarch and his spouse, sometimes before church processions, etc. Besides this one, there are another three manners of bell tolling, illustrated by the following link:  http://bellschool.ru/videouroki/p-01


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