|This is a press release for The Pharos Cantors from a French label ARCANA that will make world distribution for a new release of "Following The Cross". This letter will go to every distributor in the world. |
Following the Cross
First, a bit of geography. The island of Hvar is located off the Dalmatian coast of Croatia, opposite the city of Split. Fairly narrow (5-11 km in width) and 89 kilometers long, it is renowned for its sunshine * a local hotel tradition offers free bed and board to any visitor who finds himself detained on account of snow or fog *, its limpid waters, some of the clearest in all of Europe, and the warm welcome of its inhabitants. The city of Hvar is the main city, but Stari Grad, owing to its ancient status as the island's capital, has maintained an important role, perhaps more revealing of local habits and customs.
Next, a bit of history. Inhabited since prehistoric times, the island of Hvar was peopled by the Illyrians, then the Greeks and Romans, be-fore coming under several centuries of domination by Byzantium, Venice and the Austrian Empire, successively. For seven years * during the Napoleonic conquests * it was French. Thus the city of Stari Grad arose on the site where the Greeks had founded Pharos, in 385 BC, and the huge fort that overlooks the city of Hvar was built by the French emperor. Thanks to its insular position, it remained outside the combat zones during the war of conquest declared by the Serbs at the moment of the independence of Croatia.
These considerations are useful in understanding that this is a place of ancient civilization, boasting a glorious past in terms of architecture, literature, painting and music. We will also point out that it was in Hvar that the first municipal theater known in Europe was built in 1612.
In 1510, the inhabitants of Stari Grad rose up against the nobility of the city of Hvar. The Holy Week procession was one of repentance and became a tradition. Taking place every year during the week before Easter, in Stari Grad and the neighboring villages, the custom has endured up until the present day. Organized by a local religious congregation, the clergy does not participate. Glagolitic chants, in the vernacular, come from the oral tradition, passed down from generation to generation.
Under the name of THE PHAROS' CANTORS are grouped the cantors of the Church of Saint Stephen in Stari Grad and the Secular Cantors of the Church of the Holy Spirit in Vrbanj. All the members practice secular professions the rest of the year, and their membership in the choir is a manifestation of their faith. Thus, this is a folk custom integrated into its local social context.
What is striking, on first hearing, is the quality of the voices, the accuracy and precision of the ensembles, as well as the fervor, narrative tone and force of expression. There emanates a great intensity which even the most uninformed listener cannot ignore. The character of this music is absolutely unique, comparable to nothing else: the psalmodies of the Lamentations of the Virgin Mary, with their extensive silences, linked to the realistic crackling of the Crucifixion, for instance, attest to the music's harmonic and incantatory force.
It remains to be hoped that the success to which THE PHAROS' CANTORS are unavoidably destined * they have already subjugated New York, London and Paris * will not overly de-nature them. They must, with the same fervor, the same purity and the same authenticity, continue the artistic heritage of the rich * and as yet unknown * repertoire of the island of Hvar.
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