Sacred Imaginations 2015
Eastern Christianity has inspired astounding sacred music from Greece, Russia, Ethiopia, Lebanon and India. In an unprecedented live music event, 19 of the finest musicians from these countries explore and share their 21st century perspectives on this profound heritage. Timeless singing and beguiling instrumental textures join together in a unique and original musical experience.
Christos Chalkias (vocals) was born in Berlin in 1970. He received the Byzantine Music Degree of Excellence from Macedonian Conservatory of Thessaloniki and studied oud at the Municipal Conservatory of Thessaloniki. He was a soloist and choir member of the Municipal Traditional Assembly of Thessaloniki and went on to be a cantor, first in Lagadas Cathedral and then in the Holy Church ‘Assumption of Mary’ in Saranta Ekklisies-Thessaloniki. Christos was appointed professor at Athoniada Ecclesiastical Academy in 1995 where he remained until 2000 and now teaches at the Church School of Thessaloniki. He has worked with major singers of Greek folklore music and performed in concerts, with singers such as Helen Tsaligopoulou and Eleftheria Arvanitaki, in many festivals in Greece and abroad, as well as appearances on various television shows. He took part in Manos Achalinotopoulos’s recording Hyacinth (Sony Classical) and was a soloist in the 2012 Byzantium and Islam exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of New York.
Manos Achalinotopoulos (clarinet) mixes the traditional style of playing the clarinet and its special idioms with Jazz, Balkan ethnic style and influences of the western music. He was born and grew up in Athens and started learning the flute and clarinet from a very early age. He has performed clarinet, cawal, shawm and flutes in more than 20 countries all over the world, while participating in international concerts and festivals including the Montreux Jazz festival. As well as fellow Greek artists and composers, he has collaborated with international artists, composers, soloists and international singers such as Ara Dinkjian and Goran Bregovic. Career highlights include performing at both the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and he has performed on over 1,000 recordings, his own include Hyacinth which received critical acclaim, Zopirin, and Flight on light . He has also composed music for theatre and cinema as well as providing music for Lufthansa airline’s in-flight entertainment.
Vrujr Ananikyan first tenor
Alexander Gorbatov second tenor
Alexander Kamyshintcev baritone solo
Konstantin Senchenko bass-baritone
Bekseit Ryspaev bass profundo
Doros is a polyphonic male vocal ensemble, founded in 2002 by Konstantin Senchenko in 2002. Konstantin is both Artistic Director of Doros and employed by The State Historical Museum on Red Square, Moscow, a position which gives Doros the opportunity to sing every day in the iconic St Basil's Cathedral on Red Square. Their daily repertoire at St Basil’s draws on Russian Orthodox Church and sacred music traditions, however the ensemble also aims to preserve all authentic vocal traditions, both religious and secular, of Russian male a cappella singing. All the members of Doros are classically trained musicians, with diplomas in music and music education, and work professionally in Russia and abroad. As well as St Basil’s, the group performs in France: in the Basilica of St Nazaire and St Celse, Carcassonne, and in Albi.
Abeer Nehme (vocals) is a Lebanese Internationally renowned Crossover Singer and composer, and the first Arabic vocalist to perform in more than 25 languages. She has performed in venues across the globe and at many prestigious international events including the 2014 Harvard Arab Weekend. In 2010, Abeer received the ‘Murex D'or’ for her exceptional voice and performance in the Arab world. She has recorded as a guest artist and is currently recording her album composed by Marcel Khalife. Her theatrical appearances as a main leading female actress include in Nouqaddimou Lakoum Watan (‘We offer you a nation’) in 2013. Abeer Nehme is the face of Al-Mayadeen Television and first made her mark creating and presenting the documentary series Ethnopholia Music of the Nations. She was a regular host on National Turkish Television and leading performer in one of the most prestigious musical and cultural programmes, One Thousand and One Nights.
Imad Morcos (dulcimer) is a Lebanese musician composer and singer who is thought to be one of the best players of Quanoun in France and in the Arab world. He has a diploma from the national Conservatoire in Beyrouth and has crisscrossed the world going from festival to festival bringing a taste of his oriental culture. Domiciled in Paris for more than 30 years, Imad teaches music as well as continuing to collaborate with various artists in their search for new musical horizons.
Nader Morcos (percussion). Music is a tradition that goes back a very long way in the Morcos genealogical tree. Introduced to music by his musician and composer father he opted for percussion in which he excels. He has collaborated with many artists and orchestras in France and in Europe. ‘Nader’ means rare in Arabic, and this young artist is true to his name since he is among the few percussion players that have mastered the most complex Arabic rhythms. He is constantly striving to refine his playing and nourish his musicological knowledge.
Julio Eid (bass) is a veteran bass player, performing in Beirut’s live music scene since 2000, collaborating with various national and international artists. Julio has performed in the leading venues in Lebanon and abroad. He graduated in Musicology from the University de Saint-Esprit de Kaslik, and is currently studying for an MA in musicology. He was the creator, research director and project manager of a TV documentary exploring ethnic music and ethnicities around the world entitled Ethnopholia.
Haig Yazdjian (oud, vocals) is Syrian born, of Armenian origin, Greek resident and Global citizen. An oud soloist, composer and a singer, he has performed in international concerts; festivals and tours including Spain, Scandinavia and Germany, and has collaborated with the most prominent Greek composers and singers as well as with international soloists, including recording and touring with the Canadian Diva, Loreenna McKennitt. His groundbreaking albums include Talar and Garin named after his daughters, and Beast on the Moon (2000), the stage music for Richard Kalinosky’s play which brought international recognition. His recording, Amalur (‘Mother Earth’) chronicles five years of travelling around the world with his band and experimenting with the electric oud. Haig tours in Greece and Europe with the same musicians with whom he began his career; they stay close to their roots, playing at least once a week in the same small den at Café Asante in Athens.
Temesgen Hussein (King David’s harp) was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He studied with Alemayehu Fanta and Teshome Shenkute at the Yared School of Music in Addis Ababa. It is Temesgen's dream to keep alive the ancient musical traditions of Ethiopia. He is in the process of setting up a school to teach the begena and krar (an Ethiopian lyre or Kind David’s harp), giving one-on-one tutorials either online or in person and has been integral in making authentic, hand-made ethiopian instruments available in the US. He has also designed a revolutionary 10-string krar. A versatile singer-songwriter, Temesgen is equally at home in the traditional format or on the frontiers of ethio-fusion. His non-traditional work is a soulful stew of reggae, Ethiopian, and jazz. His recordings include Begena Fusion which features the begena in a modern milieu, and Krarization (2013), a collection of popular contemporary songs covered with the help of the krar.
Petr Glavatskikh (percussion) was born in 1979 in Ekaterinburg. He studied percussion at Urals Mussorgsky State Conservatoire and Moscow Conservatory, and marimba post-graduate course at the State University of Music and Performing Arts, Stuttgart. He is a multiple winner and laureate of international percussion and marimba competitions and has collaborated with orchestras in Moscow, at the New Opera Theatre, Stanislavsky and at Nemirovitch-Danchenko Opera House. He has performed with with Plácido Domingo and William Lacey, and since 2008 has regularly performed solo concerts in leading venues of Russia, as well as participating in the Jazz International Music Festival, Usadba, and Eurasia Festival. He has been awarded The ‘Golden Mask’ National Theatre Award Laureate.
Alexis Parharidis (vocals) was born in 1971 in Kozani Greece and is of Pontian-Greek descent, a region which is located in north central Turkey. He began singing in 1989 after being encouraged by the unforgettable Chrysanthos Theodoridis, probably the most notable Pontian-Greek traditional singer. Ever since, he has performed in festivals around Greece and abroad as well as on many folk music platforms. He has recorded six personal albums of traditional Pontian-Greek songs. In 1998 he took part in Manos Achalinotopoulos’s album Hyacinth and performed alongside him for the next two years. He has participated in many Greek folklore albums, either as a singer or a songwriter, mainly in the Pontian-Greek dialect which is considered to be the closest living dialect to ancient Greek. He has also participated in two modern Greek music albums alongside Alkistis Protopsalti and Sofia Papazoglou.
Samual Yirga (piano) is from Ethiopia and after early struggles he claimed the piano for his own. Against the odds, he found his way to music school in Addis Ababa and despite still being in his 20s and only having left music school relatively recently, he developed at a pace remarkable for someone of his age. He combines contemporary and classical jazz, celebrated pop songs from the golden era of Ethiopian music, traditional Ethiopian rhythms and deeply-felt classical piano undertones to open up a whole new door on a musical genre. He plays with Addis funk band, Nubian Arc and is a member of the UK/Ethiopian collective, Dub Colossus, which has brought him wider international recognition through touring. He released his debut album Guzo in 2012, recorded in Addis Ababa and Real World Studios, and produced by Dubulah (aka Nick Page), the British musician and producer behind Transglobal Underground, Syriana and Dub Colossus.
Pirashanna Thevarajah (percussion) is a senior disciple of the mridanga vidwan, Sri. M. Balachandar. A versatile performer, he is one of the few percussionists of his generation to have command of various Indian percussion instruments including the mridangam, kanjira, ghatam and morsing; and is also proficient in the art of konnakol (Indian spoken rhythm). He has collaborated and performed with many of the world’s foremost Indian classical and contemporary musicians, such as Pandit Ravi Shankar, Anoushka Shankar, Dr M. Balamuralikrishna, Mandolin U. Shrinivas, violin duo Ganesh and Kumaresh, Gingger Shankar, Susheela Raman, Nitin Sawhney, Talvin Singh and Karsh Kale, to name a few. His busy schedule includes performances in leading venues and festivals across Europe, India, the Middle East, USA and Canada. Pirashanna has also featured on recordings, including Concert for George and Anoushka Shankar’s Grammy-nominated albums Traveller and Traces of You.
Sam Mills (guitar and direction) was born in London in 1963. He first became involved with music as part of the early 1980s post-punk experimental band 23 Skidoo, He has a PhD on The Anthropology of Religion, specifically on South Asian Sufism. He returned to music-making in the mid-90s, putting his insights into global culture. In 1997 he teamed up with Bengali singer Paban Das Baul to make a groundbreaking crossover album entitled Real Sugar for Real World Records and collaborated with Paris-based West African musicians, becoming a member of the group TAMA. Sam also worked in Peru with the Afro-Peruvian Diva Susana Baca, and in Athens with Greek singing star Eleftheria Arvanitaki. He enjoys a long and fruitful collaboration with British Asian singer Susheela Raman with whom he has made seven best-selling albums, winning BBC awards and shortlisted for a Mercury prize. Their 2014 album Queen Between received a five-star review from the Financial Times.
Susheela Raman (vocals) was born in London to Tamil parents in London and raised in Australia. She was trained in and performed South Indian classical music from an early age before branching into varieties of western music. Returning to live in London in 1997 she teamed up with Sam MIlls to create a string of highly acclaimed albums, starting with the Mercury shortlisted Salt Rain in 2001 and most recently Queen Between in 2014. She also established herself as a commanding and intense live performer and has in recent years developed some large-scale collaborative works for Southbank. Susheela's work has always forged links between different musical worlds and she has developed her own distinctive approach to various kinds of sacred music from the Indian subcontinent, ranging from Tamil devotional music to Sufi Qawwali. For Sacred Imaginations she travelled to Kerala to study the Syriac Orthodox style of singing.