DR. GABRIEL AYDIN, Syriac Music Institute, USA
Gabriel Aydin was born and raised in Tur‛Abdin, southeastern Turkey, where he was trained in the Syriac chant tradition of the Syriac Orthodox Church. He obtained his first education in Syriac culture, classical Syriac, liturgy, and liturgical music in his home parish of Mor Abrohom and advanced his chanting skills and liturgical music repertory by attending both Deyr Al-Za‛faran (Mardin) and Mor Gabriel (Midyat) seminaries in Tur‛Abdin for eight years.
Later, he familiarized himself with the various chant traditions of the Syriac Church while doing his Master’s thesis analyzing the complete chant tradition of Edessa (modern-day Urfa) and his Diplôme D’études Approfondies (Diploma of Profound Studies) thesis on the chant tradition of Mardin at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK), Lebanon. He graduated from Yale Institute of Sacred Music with Master’s degree in Art and Religion. In 2020, he received his doctorate in musicology with a special focus on Syriac chant at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK) in Lebanon. His dissertation, “The Lineage of Zmirotho Dʽito: A Comparative Transcription and Musical Analysis of Syriac Liturgical Chant according to the Rite of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch,” examines the last century’s major hymnal of the Syriac Orthodox Church from the perspectives of history, formation, practice, musical transcription, and fidelity to the tmoné qinotho (eight modes).
In 2007 he founded the Syriac Music Institute in Rhode Island, United States that promotes the preservation and growth of the ancient Syriac sacred music tradition. He published The Syriac Hymnal in 2018 which features traditional hymns from the Beth Gazo, for every feast and occasion according to the Syriac annual liturgical calendar. All hymns are prepared in Syriac text, Latin transliteration, English translation, and musical notation with special musical symbols that convey pitches, tones, and melodic forms unique to Syriac music.
Currently, he is a visiting lecturer at the University of Salzburg teaching Syriac Prosody and Liturgical Music in the Master of Arts in Syriac Theology.
DR. SEBASTIAN BROCK, Oxford, UK
Sebastian Paul Brock, FBA (born 1938, London) is generally acknowledged as the foremost academic in the field of Syriac language today. He is a former Reader in Syriac Studies at the University of Oxford‘s Oriental Institute and currently a professorial fellow at Wolfson College. Sebastian Brock studied at Eton College, completed his BA degree at the University of Cambridge, and a DPhil at Oxford. He is the recipient of a number of honorary doctorates and has been awarded the Medal of Saint Ephrem the Syrian by the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch and the Leverhulme prize and medal of the British Academy. He is a widely published author on Syriac topics.
DR. ENRICO FINK, Shemah School Of Jewish Studies, Florence, Italie
Musician and scholar, Enrico Fink has devoted himself to the study of Italian Jewish musical repertories and to new interpretations of the Jewish cultural tradition, finding a path between “radical” and traditional, which uses both music and musical theater as means of expression. He is back from a term as visiting fellow at Oxford Centre for Jewish Studies, studying kabbalistic influences in Jewish Italian riutals between the XVI and XVIII centuries, and is currently working on an international project involving transcription, analysis and online publication of a vast array of musical sources pertaining to Jewish Italian musical tradition. In the past 20 years he has toured extensively native Italy, Europe, North and South America, in theaters as well as in schools and universities, synagogues and Jewish centers, as musician, as lecturer, as guest cantor, bringing to audiences worldwide his vast repertoire of Italian Jewish synagogue song, as well as his own renditions, arrangements and compositions. He has brought his knowledge of the musical traditions of Italian Jews into very diverse musical environments, from early music to jazz, from classical to contemporary, participating in and leading major groups and orchestras, but also giving classes, workshops, participating in service leading.
M. JALAL POLUS GAJO, Iraq, Haute école de musique de Genève
Jalal Polus Gajo was born on 4 September 1974 in the Ninive Plain (Quaraquosh), near Mosul, Iraq, and belongs to the Christian Syriac Catholic community. He studied at the University of Mosul, Iraq, where he obtained his Bachelor in Mathematics and Computer Programming in 1998, and at the University of the Holy Spirit – Kaslik, Jounieh/Beirut, Lebanon, where he obtained his Canonical Degree (Bachelor) in Theology in 2008. He studied music in the National Institute of Music in Lebanon from 2005 to 2012 (6 academic years), and at the University of Notre-Dame of Louaizé, Lebanon, from 2012 to 2015, where he obtained his Bachelor of Art in Arabic Musicology in 2015. He is currently following a Master in Ethnomusicology at the Haute Ecole de Musique de Genève (CH).
Jalal Polus Gajo entered the newly created Christian Syriac Catholic Ephremite Monastic Order in 2000 and left it in September 2017. He is a specialist of the Christian aramaic Syriac Catholic sacred music tradition of “Tikrit”, now known as the Mosul tradition, of the Quaraquosh tradition (both belonging to the Eastern Syriac Catholic tradition, Iraq), as well as of the sacred music tradition of Charfet (Western Syriac Catholic tradition, Lebanon, Turkey and Syria). He conducted several studies on the underlying Christian liturgies and the related melodies, in order to identify their sources and their original practices, to correct possible errors introduced through the centuries, and proposing new ways to valorize them. He started, on his own, the transcription of the oral Christian Syriac Catholic sacred music tradition of Iraq into modern notes. In September 2016, he was appointed by His Beatitude Youssef III Yunan, Patriarch of the Christian Syriac Chatholic Church, to coordinate the project of recording and transcription of the Syriac Catholic Eastern sacred music tradition supported by the Laus Plena Foundation, Lugano, Switzerland, leading the related Sacred Music Working Group established in Iraq, with the task to conduct a transcription of the Iraqi Mosul, Quaraquosh and Barthalla sub-traditions.
He has been for many years the Director of the Syriac Catholic Patriarchal Choir of Beirut.
Jalal Polus Gajo coordinated and edited the recordings of several CDs and DVDs, among which: “Saint Behnam and Saint Sarah” (August 2012), “The Resurrection of Christ” (June 2013), “The Fire of Christmas” (December 2016), and “Great Friday Celebrations” (April 2017). Since 2009, he published several articles on the Syriac Catholic tradition on the Syriac Catholic Patriarchate website (www.syr-cath.org/syrpages/index/7). “The Fire of Christmas” and “Great Friday Celebrations” CDs are presented on the Laus Plena’s website (www.lausplenafoundation.ch).
DR. PROF. MAMMOOTTIL P. GEORGE, Orthodox Theological Seminary, Sruti Liturgical Music School, Kottayam, Inde
Fr. Dr. M. P. George has been professor at the Orthodox Theological Seminary since 1983. He began his theological education at the Orthodox Theological Seminary at Kottayam where he completed the Graduate in Sacred Theology (diploma) and Bachelor in Divinity degree. He did further studies in Music and Hymnology from St. Albans, UK and Academy of Theological Music in Leningrad. Fr. M. P. George earned his Doctorate (Ph.D.) in West Syriac Music (Beth G’aazo) from the St. Ephrem Ecumenical Research Institute (SEERI), Kottayam.
His principal areas of teaching are Liturgical Hymns, Ekkara, Sacraments and Liturgies. He is the Director of the Sruti School of Liturgical Music.
Apart from Music books with notations on Holy Qurbana, Holy Matrimony and other sacraments, Fr. M. P. George has also authored several other books.
PROF. DR. MICHAEL HENEIN, UNEA University Sweden - European Academy for Coptic Heritage - TEACH
Michael Y. Henein (Born 1959) is an Egyptian cardiologist. He holds a Bachelor of Medicine, ChB, Alexandria University, 1981, a Master of Science, Behna University, Egypt, 1987, and is Doctor of Philosophy, Imperial University, London, 1997.Since 1997, he is the chairman of St. Kyrel Trust, London, and spends large amounts of time in supporting Coptic Music, Identity and Heritage in the Diaspora. He directs the Kyrel Trust Choir, that performs the Coptic musical tradition in concerts for charitable purposes and conducts research on Coptic music. These efforts serve to preserve and propagate Coptic musical heritage, as instigated most notably by the early Coptic Music documentation and pioneer Dr Ragheb Moftah (1898-2001).
NOURI ISKANDAR, Former Director of the Instit. for Eastern Music, Aleppo, Syria
Nouri Iskandar (born 1938 in Syria), is an Assyrian Syriac musicologist and composer. He graduated in music from the High Institute of Music of the University of Cairo (Egypt). He worked as a music teacher in various schools of Aleppo and in 1968, he began to compose popular Syriac songs, and collecting Syriac liturgical songs from the Ruha and Deyr ul Zafaran schools, the two main sources of the Syriac music. His book on the “Beth Gazo” (“The Treasury of Songs”) brings together more than 700 Syrian Orthodox chants, was published in Aleppo in 1992. From 1968 to 2002, he founded and directed several choirs specialized in Syriac Music in Aleppo, and in 1973, he participated in the First Festival of Contemporary Syriac Music in Beirut. From 1996 until 2011, he was the Director of the Institute of Arab Music of Aleppo. His main musical compositions are: “String Trio”, “Concerto for Oud and String Orchestra”, “Concerto for Cello and String Orchestra”, “Operetta Syriac Parqana” (Salvation), “Khattama” (Poem for Choir and Orchestra on a text of Husien Hamza), “Bacchae” (musical theater piece on the original texts of Euripides), “Love dialogue” for Choir and Symphonic Orchestra, “Oriental Miniatures” for clarinet and strings, “Mawal Kurdeli” (1990)
DR. TALA JARJOUR, King’s College, London, UK
Tala Jarjour is a scholar of music, religion and anthropology who studies the Middle East and the Arab world. She has a background in Ethnomusicology, Historical Musicology and violin Performance. She is particularly interested in intersections between politics, culture and religious musics in and from the region – especially Levantine traditions such as Christian and Sufi musics. Her research interests include arts and humanities higher education in the Middle East.
As a Gates Scholar and recipient of the Overseas Research Studentship Award Scheme, Tala wrote her PhD on Syriac chant in the Syrian city of Aleppo. Her past and current research examines emotion, aesthetics, modality, identity, minority and ethno-religiosity, society and performance, survival, cultural heritage, nation and power, peace and war studies, as well as migration and integration.
Dr Jarjour held Assistant Professor positions in music and anthropology at New York University Abu Dhabi and the University of Notre Dame where she was also Faculty Fellow of the Kroc Institute of the Medieval Institute, the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. Previous visiting faculty positions include Yale University’s Music Department and the University of Salzburg. Research positions include Yale University and the Excellence Initiative at the University of Tübingen. She is currently Associate Fellow of Pierson College at Yale and Visiting Research Fellow at King’s College London.
Dr Jarjour has worked with and consulted for a number of academic, nonprofit, as well as private and public sector entities in Europe, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Middle East. Those include L’Arche, The Clerk’s, Al-Fanar, the Manchester International Festival, the University of Salzburg, and the Vienna Phonogrammarchiv of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. She has appeared on national and international media such as the BBC Radio 3 and CNN International, and has published articles in cultural media in the Arab world, such as Annahar and Assafir weeklies.
Her book Sense and Sadness, Syriac Chant in Aleppo was recently published with Oxford University Press.
PROF. DR. PETER JEFFERY, Notre Dame University, USA
Peter Jeffery, Professor and Department Chair at University of Notre-Dame University (USA), grew up in a house full of books and music, in the New York neighborhood immortalized in Spike Lee’s 1994 movie “Crooklyn.” He attended what is now the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, the school which inspired the 1980 movie “Fame.” At Brooklyn College, Jeffery majored in music composition, an experience which taught him that his real strengths lay in musicology. Thus he received a PhD in Music History from Princeton University in 1980, with a dissertation entitled “The Autograph Manuscripts of Francesco Cavalli (1602-1676),” about the life work of an early opera composer. This research greatly increased his interest in Gregorian chant.
Jeffery has published over 100 articles and books on a range of topics, in publications that include Early Music History, Studia Liturgica, Jewish Quarterly Review, Theological Studies and The Oxford Dictionary of the Middle Ages. An early article entitled “The Introduction of Psalmody into the Roman Mass by Pope Celestine I (422-432),” published in Archiv für Liturgiewissenschaft, received the Alfred Einstein Award from the American Musicological Society. Volume 1 of his book Ethiopian Christian Liturgical Chant (co-authored with Kay Kaufman Shelemay of Harvard University) received the 1994 Paul Revere Award for Graphic Excellence from the Music Publishers’Association. In 2006 his book Translating Tradition won an Honorable Mention in the “Liturgy” category from the Catholic Press Association.
Shortly after receiving early tenure at the University of Delaware, Jeffery was the first musicologist to receive a “Genius Award” Fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (1987-92). In 1993 he returned to Princeton as a full professor; since 2009 he has been the Scheide Professor of Music History Emeritus there. He came to Notre Dame as the Michael P. Grace Professor of Medieval Studies, along with his wife, Margot Fassler, to build up the program in Sacred Music.
PROF. DR. ELIAS KESROUANI, Lebanon
Rev. Prof. Elias Kesrouani is visiting professor of Ethnomusicology at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music. He is fluent in English, French, Arabic, Syriac, and Italian, with internationally reputed compositions in Syriac and Arabic. He has participated in many international conferences, concerts, and colloquia, among them an international conference at Yale Institute of Sacred Music in 2007; a concert at Royaumont Research Center in France, 2007; and the scientific colloquium of the Arab Academy of Music in Cairo (annually since 1996). He recently represented Lebanon at a meeting of experts in New Delhi, organized by UNESCO, which discussed the “Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage”.
He participated in a plethora of academic activities that have taken him to Italy, Algeria, Greece, Morocco, Oman, Jordan, the Netherlands, Bahrain, Tunisia, Syria, Turkey, Kuwait, United Kingdom and Spain. His many publications include his piece on the “Hymnological Thesaurus (Bet-Gazo) of the Syriac Church,” in “Nos Sources, Arts et literature Syriaques”, Coll: Sources Syriaques, ed.: CERO 1, Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Orientales, Antélias Liban, 2005; and his “The Syriac Octoïchos”, in “Aspects de la Musique Liturgique au Moyen Age, Rencontres à Royaumont”, Editions Creaphis, 1991.
In addition to being a member in a number of significant scientific committees with UNESCO and the Arab Academy of Music attached to the Arab League, Reverend Kesrouani has occupied many prestigious posts in the past, among the most important being the Deanship of the Jordan Academy of Music, and professorships at the University of the Holy Spirit, Kaslik, and the Higher Lebanese Conservatoire of Music, Beirut. His present position finds him as the founder and Research Professor of NDU’s Department of Music and Musicology where, since 2002, he has achieved what is one of his most notable accomplishments: the creation of a new university discipline called “Musimedialogy” registered Intellectual Property in 163 countries. Professor Kesrouani is also co-director of Ph. D. research at the Sorbonne Paris IV University for Oriental Ethnomusicology. B.A., University of the Holy Spirit; M.A., Lebanese University; Ph.D. Sorbonne Paris IV University.
P. FADI LION NISSAN, Iraq, Par. St Ephrem, Lyon, France
Fr. Nissan belongs to the Chaldean Church (Iraq). Ordained priest in 2004 in Baghdad-Iraq. He has a license in fundamental theology from Gregorian university in Rome 2006. Former superior of the Patriarcal Seminary in Erbil-Iraq 2010-2015. He has serves as the Priest of the Notre-Dame de Chaldée parochial in Paris-France in 2015 and in Lyon-France in 2018.
Very knowledgeable of Chaldean-liturgical songs, he participated in many concerts regrades the Chaldean-liturgical songs, in Iraq, France, Sweden and Swiss (with the Gregorian Choir of Paris). He is teaching theology at the Babel College for the Chaldean church in Iraq-Kurdistan.
TOUFIC MAATOUK, PhD, Université Antonine, Lebanon
Toufic Maatouk, is one of the most compelling conductors of his generation. In the 2012 season, Maatouk began his tenure as Artistic Director of Beirut Chants Festival in Lebanon. He is also Guest Conductor of the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra since 2013 and a Guest Conductor of the Romanian Radio Chamber Orchestra since 2017. Maatouk was appointed Artistic Director and Choir Master of the Antonine University Choir, in August 2005 and Head of the vocal department in the Lebanese National Higher Conservatory of Music since October 2015. He holds a Ph.D. in Musicology from the Istituto Ponticio di Musica Sacra (PIMS) in Rome where he conducted and published different studies on the Syro-Maronite chants.
As a chief conductor, Toufic Maatouk has led the Antonine University choir for more than 16 years. He collaborated with numerous orchestras and festivals. He has been invited as a jury member to several prestigious competition as the Ottavio Ziino competition, Voce Verdiane international competition, and the Biennale des Cordes.
Maatouk published his new book on the Syro-Maronite tradition with Geuthner’s edition in Paris (France). Different articles are published in international musicology journals and 13 CDs on the Maronite tradition with the Antonine University chorus.
Lately, Maatouk has been granted the honors of the Knight of the Order of the Star of Italy by the President of the Italian Republic.
PROF. NIDAA ABOU MRAD, Université Antonine (Lebanon)
Nidaa Abou Mrad, professeur de musicologie (docteur en musicologie et docteur en médecine), est actuellement le Vice-président de la Conférence des recteurs du Moyen-Orient (CONFREMO), le Vice-recteur aux affaires académiques et à la recherche et le Doyen de la Faculté de musique et musicologie de l’Université Antonine (Liban). Il est également le directeur du Centre de recherche sur les traditions musicales de l’Université Antonine et le rédacteur en chef de la Revue des traditions musicales. Il a publié une quarantaine d’articles dans des encyclopédies et des revues scientifiques et un ouvrage fondateur de la sémiotique modale (Éléments de sémiotique modale: Essai de grammaire générative pour les traditions monodiques) – théorie pour laquelle il a été lauréat du Prix d’Excellence Scientifique 2017 du CNRS-Liban. En tant que violoniste et compositeur, spécialiste de la tradition musicale artistique arabe du Mashriq, il a publié vingt CD audios.
Nidaa Abou Mrad, professor of musicology (MD and PhD in Musicology), is currently the Vice President of the Conference of the Francophone University Presidents of the Middle East (CONFREMO), the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Research and the Dean of the Faculty of Music and Musicology at the Antonine University (Lebanon). He is also the Director of the Research Centre for Music Traditions and the editor in chief of the peer reviewed journal titled Revue des traditions musicales. He has published a large number of articles and authored the book titled “Elements of Modal Semiotics: An Essay on Generative Grammar for Monodic Traditions” in which he drew his own theory on the Modal Semiotics and for which he won the CNRS-L Annual Research Excellence Award in 2017. As a violin player and a composer, with twenty audio CDs, he is specialized in the art music tradition of the Mašriq.
DR. JOSEPH PALACKAL, Christian Musicological society of India
Fr. Joseph Palackal, C. M. I., M. A. (Psychology), Ph. D. (Music) is an Indic musicologist, singer and composer. He is also the Founder-President of the Christian Musicological Society of India. Dr. Palackal holds degrees in theology, psychology, Indian classical music, and musicology. His dissertation, Syriac chants in South India (The Graduate Center, City University of New York, 2005), became the first doctoral study of a Syriac Christian music genre in India. Dr. Palackal is the author of articles on Indian Christian music in several international journals and three encyclopedias, including the prestigious New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (Macmillan, London), and the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music (Garland Publishing, New York). He contributed a chapter on the East-Syriac chant tradition of the Syro Malabar Church, to The Oxford Handbook of Music and World Christianities (Oxford University Press, 2016). Recently, Dr. Palackal appeared on the CNN special program on Doubting Thomas, as part of “Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact and Forgery,” which was televised on Easter Sunday, 2017. The American Library of Congress has started documenting Dr. Palackal’s contributions.
Through his stage performances, commercial and research recordings, lectures, workshops and writings, Dr. Palackal has linked the musical geography of early Christianity to India. By doing so, has aroused the curiosity of both scholars and laymen alike, and initiated a new discourse on the Christian dimension of India. Although the primary focus of research is on Christian music, his interests vary widely from Jewish and tribal music of Kerala, to art and religion, and archiving oral histories and speech patterns. He continues his musical journey on the road less travelled by exploring new ways to connect the dots between what he considers the complementary concepts of India and Christianity.
Dr. Palackal is the lead singer in more than fifty commercial releases in five languages, including Sanskrit and Syriac (Aramaic). He received international acclaim for his CD, Qambel Maran: Syriac Chants from South India (PAN Records, Netherlands, 2002); In New York, he made his debut in the Off Broadway musical Nunsense, directed by Dan Goggin. Other performance venues include Musée du Quai Branly (Paris), Bruno Walter Auditorium at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (New York), Princeton University, and Columbia University. In 2013, he started an ongoing project of preserving the sound, melodies and memories of the Aramaic language among the Syro Malabar Catholics in India.
Currently, he is serving as Associate Pastor at St. Margaret’s Church in New York and continues to direct the project of building an internet library on Christian music in India.
PROF. MILED TARABAY, Université Saint Esprit de Kaslik (USEK)
Father Miled Tarabay (born 1968) is a monk of the Lebanese maronite order specialised in Syriac Maronite sacred music. His is musicologist, composer, choir conductor and oud player. He studied choir conducting and obtained his PhD in Musicology from the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music (PIMS) in Rome (I). He is teacher of sacred music and choir singing at the music faculty of Université Saint Esprit de Kaslik (USEK) in Lebanon.
VIOLAINE TRENTESAUX MOCHIZUKI, Marquartstein Institute, Germany
Violaine Trentesaux Mochizuki, M.A, studied Musicology, English Studies and Art History in Freiburg im Breisgau, and Ethnomusicology and Japanology at the University of Cologne. In 1980, she made the acquaintance of Yvar Schmutz-Schwaller, a private researcher working on Syriac music, and worked with him for 20 years until his death in 1999. She made several field works in Japan and applied Schmutz-Schwaller’s theories and methods of melodic analysis to the songs of Japanese priestesses of the Island Amami-Ōshima. From 2000 on, she founded the Marquartstein Institute whose aim is to manage and promote the extensive scientific legacy of Ivar Schmutz-Schwaller, preserving, digitalizing and publishing the archive and developing an extensive network of contacts with specialists in the field.
PROF. DR. LUCA RICOSSA, Haute école de musique de Genève
Né a Turin (Italie) en 1960, Luca Ricossa est citoyen suisse. Il a fait des études en musicologie à l’université de Genève (licence) et a obtenu le doctorat à l’université de Fribourg sous la direction de Jürg Stenzl.
Au Conservatoire de Genève, il a suivi les cours théoriques. Spécialise dans les répertoires musicaux liturgiques, il a enseigné le chant grégorien à la Schola Cantorum de Bâle et à la HEM – Genève (anciennement Conservatoire). En plus de l’enseignement, il exerce une activité soutenue de recherche et conférences dans tous les domaines de sa spécialisation : le chant grégorien depuis les sources les plus anciennes jusqu’à ses derniers développements au XIXe siècle, mais aussi la tradition byzantine (médiévale et moderne), syriaque, etc.. Depuis 2011 ses recherches portent principalement sur le répertoire ambrosien, dont il vient d’éditer tous les offices nocturnes en notation originale. Projet de recherche: La notation byzantine de l’école koukouzélienne.