Close Voices from Afar

Article excerpt

Close Vocies from Afar

Schola Gregoriana Pragensis--chant, Gyosan-ry_ Tendai Sh_my_--chant and traditional Buddhist liturgical percussion (mokugyo drum, gongs and nyo-hachi cymbals, shakudyho rattle stick and sounding stones). Production: Text: Cz., Eng., Ger., Fr. Recorded: 11/2006, Chapel of the Holy Trinity of the former Augustinian Monastery (now the District Ethnographical Museum), Ceska Lipa. released: 2007. TT: 68:31. DDD. 1 CD Sony 82876873042 (Sony BMG).


This recording--made following the extraordinary joint concert given by the Schola Gregoriana Pragensis choir and the Ohara Gyosan shomyo kenkyu-kai monks's choir in the Prague Church of St. Anne in November 2006--is an exceptionally successful manifestation of the attempt to deepen inter-faith dialogue. For the director of the Schola Gregoriana and the key initiator of this usual project David Eben (see CM 3/2004) such dialogue is "one of the most urgent tasks of our day". Another of the initiators of this exceptional meeting of two cultures is the leading specialist on traditional Japanese culture Robin He_man--here tucked away inconspicuously as the author of the brilliant erudite commentary on the Japanese element of the recording. With his charisma, energy and practical experience (including many years of practising Buddhism of the Tendai school in the celebrated monastery under Hiei Mountain in Kyoto), inspired and helped to arrange not only this particular meeting, but all the previous meetings between the Schola Gregoriana and Tendai monks in Prague and Japan. The idea of presenting the traditions of both Gregorian chant and the Japanese Buddhist liturgical chant known as shomyo on one album is not new. For example the CD Devotion--Gregorian Chant Meets Buddhist Chant (Victor VICG-5393) made back in 1996, presented the Italian Cantori Gregoriani and Tendai Shomyo Kenkyukai in similar counterpoint (even including a parallel layering in the final track, Agnus dei-Shichisan). This does not detract, however, from the pioneering originality of design and excellent standard of performance evident in the recording from David Eben and his friends, which takes the idea much further and enhances its impact. …


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