Dr Spyridon Antonopoulos, Honorary Research Fellow at City, recently led the vocal ensemble Psaltikon on a three-concert tour in Scandinavia. Psaltikon, founded by Antonopoulos in 2010, is a Boston-based vocal ensemble specializing in Byzantine chant and the music of the Eastern Mediterranean. For this tour, Psaltikon was joined by City University Reader in Music, Dr Alexander Lingas, along with Antonopoulos and six other singers. Prior to the tour, Dr Antonopoulos and Dr Lingas each gave papers at a Symposium on Religious Poetry and Performance at Uppsala University.
The tour program, entitled “Evenings Lights in Miklagård”, refers to the Scandinavian Viking name for Constantinople, the center of the world in the ninth century, when Halfdan the Viking carved his name into the parapet of the upper floor in Hagia Sophia’s southern gallery. The program explored chants which Halfdan might have heard while he inscribed his runes into Hagia Sophia’s marble. Central to the program were two kontakia, melismatic chants (whose text was originally composed in the sixth or seventh century), inscribed in the Psaltikon, the Constantinopolitan chant book for virtuoso soloists (the complementary Asmatikon contained the choral repertories). The kontakia were transcribed from a fourteenth century by the renowned musicologist Dr Ioannis Arvanitis, while the rest of the program editions were prepared by Dr Antonopoulos.
The tour’s first venue was the famous anatomical theater of the Museum Gustavianum. The ensemble then sang a concert for an audience of over 100 at Sofia Kyrka in Stockholm, before embarking on a five hour train through the Swedish woodlands to Copenhagen, where they were treated to a tour of the collections at the Monumenta Musicae Byzantinae, led by Dr Christian Troeslgård. The MMB, founded in the 1930s at the University of Copenhagen, is one of the most important research institutes for Byzantine musicology. The tour closed with a concert in the beautiful acoustic of St. Thomas in the Frederiksburg neighborhood of Copenhagen.