“The Psalm 103 Project represents a compelling vision of excellence in sacred choral music, bringing together multiple composers and musical languages into a unified whole. The different traditions of sacred vocal music represented in the score each preserve, transmit, and reinforce a peculiar diversity of cultural expressions of the unified whole of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, and this project finds a uniquely creative way of expressing that unity in diversity. The score itself adheres to the highest standards of musical and artistic quality, with each composer striving to be faithful to the tradition represented while also creatively re-interpreting the tradition so that it fits into the greater whole. In addition, the broader purpose of this singular piece of sacred music, functioning as a meditation on our present day’s debate and discussion of science and faith, makes it even more exciting and compelling. The result is something that will be a unique experience of artistic beauty for the singers and audience members alike.
It should also be noted that the score includes one of the final works of Richard Toensing, an esteemed American composer… Dr. Toensing passed away in July of 2014, and he completed his contribution to the Psalm 103 Project shortly before his death.
Cappella Romana has been involved with the Psalm 103 Project since the earliest conversations that generated the idea, and we are pleased to collaborate with the Saint John of Damascus Society in bringing the completed score to an audience, both in the concert hall and in the recording studio. It will be an important addition to our repertoire and our recording catalog, and we believe it will have a lasting impact as a concert work.
In summary, we are very pleased to give the Saint John of Damascus our unreserved, full support in this effort, and we look forward to working with them to bring it to life.”
– Mark Powell
Executive Director, Cappella Romana
“As both a rencontre between faith and science, and a bold attempt at uniting distinct traditions in a single work of art[,]… [it] is my opinion that the Psalm 103 Project is a creative effort of the highest caliber—innovative, and yet looking deeply into ancient cultures and traditions—a work of unity in diversity—and I wholeheartedly endorse it as something intrinsically valuable, both to Orthodox culture in the English-speaking world, and to American culture generally. Like any truly great idea, the Psalm 103 Project joins elements that nobody before had thought to connect. Yet, once these connections are forged—connections between Greek, Russian, Arabic, Georgian, and American cultures—connections between faith and science, between observation and belief—it becomes clear that such connections are not arbitrary, but are markers of a deeper level of experience. This is the power of art, and the Psalm 103 Project perfectly demonstrates this power.”
– Benedict Sheehan
Director of Music at St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary and Monastery; Founder and Artistic Director, The Chamber Choir of St. Tikhon’s Monastery
“Psalm 103, the “Creation Psalm”, is chanted at Vespers in the Byzantine rite. It is a profound meditation on the relationship of God, man and the created world; it encapsulates the cosmological vision of the Orthodox Church in theological poetry – or, to put it another way, poetic theology.
The aims of the Psalm 103 Project are very close to my heart. They bring together the great tradition of Christian psalm singing, as found in the Orthodox Church, and a vital vision of creative energy, recognizing the diversity of musical traditions in the Church and encouraging their continuation and renewal. All of the composers involved in the project have demonstrated their profound understanding of this reality; as the Psalm itself says, “I shall sing to the Lord while I live; I shall chant to my God while I exist.”
Singing is a communal act, something that involves people, and this central aim of the Psalm 103 Project, set up by the St John of Damascus Society, is a means to bring to a wide audience the way in which the Church understands the cosmos, the way in which science and faith may be understood as integral and intertwined, rather than opposed to each other, as is so often the contemporary perception. In addition, the involvement of the acclaimed ensemble Cappella Romana, whose contribution to the dissemination of Orthodox church music of all periods, from the Middle Ages to the present day, having established a unique and international following, underlines the transversal nature of the project.
So a genuinely exciting artistic project to celebrate the art of the cosmos, as it were, has been set in motion. “How magnified are your works, O Lord. In wisdom have You made them all, and the earth has been filled with your creation.””
– Archpriest Ivan Moody, Ph.D