Conference sessions will be held on

Thursday 18 March 2021, Friday 19 and Saturday 20, from 12h00 to 1500 (GMT+1).

Click here for a detailed program.

This conference aims at being an opportunity for exchange and discussion among 18 specialists of the Syriac Musical Tradition or specialists of its influences and exchanges with other traditions. The intention is to review the existing status of works and to revitalize the current research about it. The conference is public and largely open to representatives of the Syriac communities, to HEM and partner Universities students, and to any interested person. Presentations given during the conference will be published. Several concerts are offered to illustrate the conference.

The topics to be discussed develop four streams of analysis:

1. Sources and development of Syriac Music

We will focus on researches made about the sources and about the historical and geographical development phases of the Music of the Eastern and Indian Syriac Churches, taking into account both the recent philological discoveries and the footprints that can still be found in the oral traditions that are alive.

2. Characteristics: Syriac octoechos, modes, tetrachords, composition principles of Syriac melodies

A common conceptual legacy of the various Syriac musical traditions and of other Christian traditions, the Octoechos appears to have obtained its shared recognition in Jerusalem between the 5th and the 9th centuries, presumably drawing from preexisting elements. Many questions remain open about its relation to Arabic and Turkish makams, Persian systems, as well as about its role in the Byzantine, Gregorian, Georgian and Armenian repertoire. The role of the Syriac tradition in the birth of the Octoechos, as well as the building principles of Syriac
melodies, will be given particular focus.

3. Exchanges and influences between traditions

How did the acculturation of Syriac musical traditions operate during their displacement into other linguistic and cultural areas? Which other Christian and non-Christian musical traditions were influenced by, or have influenced the Syriac Music traditions during their migration? How are these musical traditions preserved or transformed in the diasporas that emerged due to the contemporary migrations?

4. Preservation and heritage status

The political conflicts of the last decades and the related immigration have considerably weakened the Eastern Churches’ Syriac musical heritage. By which means, such as recordings, transcriptions, etc., and by which methodologies can the conservation of the Syriac musical heritage and its transmission be ensured ?


WEDNESDAY 17 MARCH, 17h00-18h30*
A Panorama of Syriac Traditions
Introductory concert from Geneva
By the HEM Syriac Choir directed by Jalal Polus Gajo
detailed program   


THURSDAY 18 MARCH, 16h00-17h30*

Syriac Orthodox Traditions
Concert from Mardin, Tur Abdin (Turkey, UTC + 3) and The Netherlands
Monastic Choirs and Diocese choir
detailed program

FRIDAY 19 MARCH, 16h00-17h00*
Syriac Catholic Traditions and Traditions from Iraq
Concert from Qaraqosh (Iraq , UTC + 3)
Choir directed by Fr. Duraid Barbar
detailed program

SATURDAY 20 MARCH, 16h00-17h00*
Maronite Tradition
Concert from Byblos (Jbeil) (Lebanon, UTC + 2)
Qolo Atiqo Choir
detailed program

SUNDAY 21 MARCH, 14h00-14h30*
Syriac & other influences in the Coptic Tradition
Recorded concerts by the Kyrel Trust Choir directed by Michael Henein
detailed program

SUNDAY 21 MARCH, 15h00 – 16h00*
Syro-Malankar Orthodox Tradition
Concert from Kottayam (Kerala, India, UTC + 5:30)
By the Sruti Liturgical Music School Choir
detailed program

*Time given in Central European Time (UTC+1)