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Musica Sacra
Buddhist Shõmyõ & Gregorian Chants
A dialogue of two spiritual cultures based on the musical repertoire
of the Buddhist and the Christian tradition

Schola Gregoriana Pragensis &
Gjosan-rjú Tendai Sómjó
(Buddhist Monks from Japan)
Conductors: Saikawa Buntai & David Eben

The live-recording of a concert at the
UNESCO World Heritage Site Maulbronn Monastery.
Maulbronn Monastery CD Series 2009

A concert on June 20, 2008, released and created
by Andreas Otto Grimminger & Josef-Stefan Kindler
in cooperation with Jürgen Budday.
Sound & Recording Engineer: Andreas Otto Grimminger
Mastering: Andreas Otto Grimminger & Josef-Stefan Kindler
Photography: Josef-Stefan Kindler
Artwork & Coverdesign: Josef-Stefan Kindler

CD Audio, c. 73 minutes, DDD
KuK 48, ISBN 978-3-930643-48-6, EAN 42 6000591 066 7
Copyright by K&K Verlagsanstalt anno 2009

Meaningful dialogue between religions is no doubt one of the most pressing challenges of the modern world. Developments over the past few years clearly confirm what a significant role this aspect of human communication represents. Despite breathtaking technological breakthroughs and the related trend of rational scepticism, man still remains a religious creature. Ignoring this sphere of human personality not only leads to an impoverishment of the spiritual culture of a nation, but also to mutual estrangement of nations. And so what a wonderfully enriching experience it is then two cultures meet in mutual dialogue rather than confrontation.

As a biblical quotation has it, Spiritus flatubivult - the Spirit blows wherever it pleases. These words suggest an image of the unbound "blowing of God's spirit" traversing all religious traditions. It is precisely by seeking this spirit that we can liberate ourselves from long established differences and share the common "message" of religions. Many would agree that music plays an important role in such communication, crossing barriers and working as a kind of universal language.

The intention of the Tendai monks and the Schola Gregoriana Pragensis ensemble was to create a dialogue of two spiritual cultures based on the musical repertoire of the Buddhist and the Christian tradition. Thus, this recording is the fruit of mutual collaboration at concerts and liturgy in Prague in 2000 and a tour of Japan in 2005. These meditative encounters focus on interesting contrasts in the two musical languages and expressions, at the same time seeking common elements present in both traditions. Parallels can be found, for example, in the recitation of the sacred text or in the interpretation principle of alternating a soloist with a choir, which overlaps the boundaries of confession repertoires. Another striking feature is the tonality based on the pentatonic scale appearing both in shomyo singing and Gregorian chant.

Gregorian chant is the earliest liturgical singing of the western Christian tradition. Its roots reach back to the first centuries of the Christianera. The core of this sacral repertoire was established in about the second half of the 8th century under the reign of Charles the Great. Homophony and Latin texts are typical features of this style. Most prominent in the Gregorian chant is the singing of psalms, sometimes conceived in a simple recitation (as in the psalm Misere mei Deus and the antiphon Alieni insurrexerunt) and in others (such as the tractus Deus, Deus meus) in a richer melodic shape. While the core of the repertoire has remained more or less unchanged since the early Middle Ages, liturgical singing is still a dynamic phenomenon, having incorporated new musical forms and accepting even polyphonic compositions.

Gregorian chants on this recording draw predominantly from the earliest part of the repertoire (around the second half of the 8th century), as it seems to resonate best with the meditative feeling of shomyo singing. To create contrast, several examples of late medieval music including a polyphonic composition (the conductus Mundus a munditia) have been selected for the recording.

There are also two songs of Czech origin. The procession antiphon Sedit angelus from the Easter Vigil has survived in Bohemia in an accompaniment of an interesting two voice verse. Ave virgo gloriosa also represents the repertoire of Czech sacred songs (cantiones) of the late Middle Ages. It is complemented interestingly on this recording by the "hum" of the recited Lotos sutra.

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Gjosan-rjú tendai Sómjó:
Nagamune Kōshin, Ōtsuki Myōyu, Kobayashi Shūshin, Shimizutani Zendō
Chōdō Enshun, Yamashita Ryūgen, Yoshida Meiryō
Conductor: Saikawa Buntai

Schola Gregoriana Pragensis:
Martin Prokeš, Hasan El-Dunia, Ondrej Manour, Michal Medek,
Stanislav Predota, Marek Sulc, Matous Vlcinský
Conductor: David Eben

Works & Tracklist

1. Allerheiligen Litanei
2. Goschin-bo
Ritual Protection
3. Oi sange
Die Große Buße
4. Veni Sancte Spiritus
Komm, Heiliger Geist
Moteto Veni Sancte Spiritus
5. Shoten Kango no san
Lob der himmlischen Mächte (Solo)
6. Alleluia Magnus Dominus
Halleluja. Groß ist der Herr und allen Lobes wert
7. Sorai kada
Psalm 51. Miserere mei Deus
Erbarme dich über mich, Gott
8. Oratio Ieremiae Prophetae
Gebet des Propheten Jeremias
9. Antiphona Alieni insurrexerunt
Feinde haben sich gegen mich erhoben
Shoten Kango no san
Lob der himmlischen Mächte (Chor)
10. O virgo splendens
O strahlende Jungfrau
11. Kudshó Shakudshó
Gesang und Rasseln zur Vertreibung böser Mächte
12. Graduale Iustus ut palma
Der Gerechte blüht wie eine Palme
13. Amida-kyo
Kyrie IV
Herr, erbarme dich
14. Jinriki-hon
Von der göttlichen Macht - 21. Buch der Lotos-Sutra
Cantio Ave virgo gloriosa
Sei gegrüßet, Himmelskönigin
15. Kikyo bongo no san
Lobgesang der Freude und des Segens
16. Chant
From Old Slavic Liturgy
Total Playing Time: 01:13:22

The Maulbronn Monastery CD Series

Publishing culture in its authentic form entails for us capturing and recording for posterity outstanding performances and concerts. The performers, audience, opus and room enter into an intimate dialogue that in its form and expression, its atmosphere, is unique and unrepeatable. It is our aim, the philosophy of our house, to enable the listener to acutely experience every facet of this symbiosis, the intensity of the performance. The results are unparalleled interpretations of musical and literary works, simply - audiophile snapshots of permanent value.

The concerts in Maulbronn monastery, which we document with this edition, supply, the ideal conditions for our aspirations. It is, above all, the atmosphere of the romantic, candle-lit arches, the magic of the monastery in its unadulterated sublime presence and tranquillity that impresses itself upon the performers and audience of these concerts. Renowned soloists and ensembles from the international arena repeatedly welcome the opportunity to appear here - enjoying the unparalleled acoustic and architectural beauty of this World Heritage Site (monastery church, cloister gardens, lay refectory, etc.), providing exquisite performances of secular and sacred music.

Under the patronage of the Evangelical Seminar, the Maulbronn Monastery Cloister Concerts were instigated in 1968 with an abundance of musical enthusiasm and voluntary leadership. Within the hallowed walls of the classical grammar and boarding school, existent for more than 450 years, some of society's great thinkers, poets and humanists, such as Kepler, Hölderlin, Herwegh and Hesse received their first impressions.

The youthful elan, the constructive participation of the pupils, continuing the tradition of their great predecessors, constructs an enlightened climate in which artistic ambitions can especially thrive. Twenty-five concerts take place between May and September. Their success can be largely attributed to the many voluntary helpers from near and far. There is a break for winter.

Flourishing culture in a living monument, created for the delight of the live audience and, last but not least, you the listener, are the ideals we document with this series.

Andreas Otto Grimminger & Josef-Stefan Kindler