The Orthodox Spirit in Dublin

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The Orthodox Spirit, Chamber Choir Ireland’s new concert series, took place in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin on Wednesday, where hundreds of people were treated to some high quality classical and contemporary music, both old and new.

People had already gathered outside the church by 7.00 pm. “We are here to listen to some beautifully performed music that we like and, of course, deep Russian voices,” said Girvan McKay and her mother Maire McKay who were waiting outside with several others.

But not everyone was brought here by their interest in music. Sean Driver, dressed elegantly in a brown suit with a light-yellow shirt, told us another story. His Russian girlfriend was working with the Choir on their pronunciation and that’s how they got the tickets. “This kind of music is not a field of my interest but I’m expecting perfect pronunciation by the artists,” he said.

The attendees were invited in at 7.45 pm, 15 minutes later than the scheduled time. Most of the places were occupied by the elegantly dressed people by 7.50 pm. Everyone was busy talking to each other and browsing the programme until the scene lit up at 8 pm and the signs of life started to appear.

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The Chamber Choir Ireland consists of 17 artists (8 men and 9 women) from three different countries – UK, Ireland, Sweden and the director from Denmark. The Choir aims to bring high quality classical and contemporary music for people from all over the world. They work on short projects – all artists meet a week before each project and practise together for their performance. The audience got to experience some Orthodox Church music, both old and new.

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Despite the performances being based on extracts from famous pianists and composers such as Rachmaninov and Titov, the first thing that you notice is the complete absence of instruments or any other kind of music – all you hear is voices. All the compositions were held in Russian. At times, it was easy to understand the words because of the great pronunciation of the choir but otherwise people were mostly carried away by the music and the way the choir was singing – every word was divided by long and slow syllables.

Different kinds of songs, both old and new, were performed by the choir. For example, Galina Grigorjeva’s Rejoice O Virgin Theotokos is just 3 years old while Blazhen muzh is a 17th century song. Since the songs sung were from different eras, so were the languages they were sung in – from Old Church Slavonic to modern Russian.

Some of the songs were very dynamic, filled with high and loud notes that slowly diminished in the end. Others sounded more spiritual and contemporary. The variety of voices and their capacity was incredible – men with deep strong voices and women who could easily switch between high and low notes.

The event ended at 9.15pm, with people applauding loud and praising the choir. “It was a sensational wonder! All was perfect as the full volume of music just pulled you back in your seat,” said Patricia Kelly and Ian Lowa from Australia.

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