Closing concert

Saint Ephraim Byzantine Male Choir

Friday, 28 August 2009, 7:00 p.m.
Vác, Dominican Church (“Fehérek temploma” — 22 Március 15. tér [Main Square])

Tickets: in advance: 1500 HUF, on the spot before the concert: 2000 HUF | Tickets »


Conductor, artistic director: Tamás Bubnó


  • Agni Parthene / O Pure and Virgin Lady — Greek—Byzantine hymn to the Mother of God
  • Ote katilthes / As Thou Descended — Greek Troparion of Resurrection
  • D. Suceveanu: La Vitleem impreuna — Christmas stichira
  • D. Bortniansky: God with Us (solo: Csaba Gerzsenyi — baritone)
  • D. Hristov: When You Come Into Your Kingdom (solo: István Viszló — tenor)
  • St. Liudkevich: Plotiu usnuv / Have Fallen Asleep (solo: Kornél Pechan — baritone)
  • Thearchío nefmati (divine command) — Byzantine hymn for the solemnity of the Assumption of Mary (György Philipp — baritone)
  • D. Bortniansky: We praise thee, O God

--- interval ---

  • Franz Liszt: Slavimo slavno slaveni / Let Us Praise, O Slavs — hommage to Cyril and Method
  • János Boksay: Liturgy for Male Choir (passage): Our Father
  • Gy. Philipp arr.: Da molchit — Hymn of Holy Saturday from the Lvov Irmologion
  • T. Bubnó arr.: Christ Is Risen from the Dead — Paschal troparion
  • P. Chesnokov: Evening Sacrifice (solo: Péter Cser — bass)
  • S. Rachmaninov: Bogorditse Devo, raduysia / Ave Maria
  • Tamás Bubnó: Christmas In Abaúj (solo: László Domahidy — bass)
  • László Bubnó: Most bocsátod el, Uram / Lord, now lettest Thou thy servant depart

After the unforgettable concerts of the Hilliard Ensemble in 2007 and London Baroque in 2008, this year the festival will be crowned with the performance of Saint Ephraim Byzantine Male Choir, a unique ensemble in Hungary, representing Slavic Orthodox choral sound with outstanding artistic quality. In their present programme, the ensemble will sing masterpieces of Orthodox and Greek Catholic choral compositions, which, due to the specific development of Orthodox church music, were written later in time than European Baroque, but their character makes them suitable for being included in the programme of Börzsöny Baroque Days.

Saint Ephraim Byzantine Male Choir

In 2002 a Hungarian church musician and conductor collects religious melodies in the Subcarpathian area (The Ukraine) for his DLA thesis (title of his paper: Origin and Variants of the Greek Catholic Liturgical Chants in Hungary and the Subcarpathian Area). One day he acquires a manuscript of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom for male choir, composed by János Boksay; a Greek Catholic priest and composer at the turn of the century (1874—1940). This church musician, Tamás Bubnó (b. 1957), regards this music as material of a certain quality and he decides to collect his friends, professional singers and some former students of his, to perform this rarity. He applies to the label Hungaroton to record the entire piece. Parallel with this, the evolving male ensemble is named after Saint Ephraim, The Syrian (307—378), who was the first great Byzantine hymnographer, called “The Harp of the Holy Ghost” by his contemporaries.

All members of the male choir are professional musicians: singers, conductors, teachers who are outstanding participants of the Hungarian music life. What brings them together in this ensemble is their shared love for the Byzantine rite church music. Therefore the choir sings regularly in Byzantine liturgical services in Greek Catholic Churches of Budapest and other Hungarian cities. Its first trip to a foreign country was to Poland, to the Hajnówka International Festival of Orthodox Church Music 2003, where they acquired the 2nd price in the category Chamber Choir. In 2006 the St. Ephraim Male Choir won the category of Professional Chamber Choir on the 25th Anniversary Competition in Hajnówka. They are the first ensemble without Slavic roots to win during the entire history of the polyphonic contest.

The choir’s first record was released in 2004 by Hungaroton (Liturgy of Boksay — 1921). In this period the Male Choir was supported by the National Self-government of the Ruthenian Minority of Hungary. The second CD was published by the label Orpheia in 2006 and got entitled Byzantine Spirit. In the last couple of years they gave concerts in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Berlin, Rome and Paris. They were invited to the Schleswig—Holstein Music Festival 2007 in Germany and the Royaumont Music Festival 2008 in France. They toured Slovakia, Poland, and Serbia as well. The Saint Ephraim Male Choir also performed at the most prominent festivals in Hungary. (i. e. Budapest Spring Festival: 2006, 2008; Valley of Arts Kapolcs: 2006, 2007; Arcus Temporum Festival Pannonhalma: 2008; Miskolc Opera Festival: 2007; Tchaikovsky Marathon Budapest: 2008.

Saint Ephraim Male Choir
Saint Ephraim Male Choir