School of Music and Performing Arts

(Affiliated to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences)

The choir

The Western Music Choir of the School of Music and Performing Arts
Completely composed of students from the School of Music and Performing Arts, this choir performs concerts of traditional Western music in Lebanon and abroad; either alone or in collaboration with other institutions.
The Arab Music Choir of the School of Music and Performing Arts
The members of this choir are all students in the Arabic singing class of the School of Music and Performing Arts. They perform the traditional repertory of the Arab world, as well as Lebanese traditional music. The choir has a repertoire of approximately fifteen CDs and, alone, or in collaboration with other institutions, performs many concerts in Lebanon and abroad.
The Choir of the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik
The choir of the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik was once called the “The Choir of the Institute of Musicology”, “The Choir of the School of Music and Performing Arts” or more briefly “The Choir of Kaslik”.

The importance of this choir is due not only to the quality of its interpretation but to its ecclesial and liturgical role, and to its artistic and patrimonial role in the preservation and the promotion of authentic Arabic and Lebanese music. This choir was the principal execution tool of liturgical and musical reforms that took place within the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik and almost reached the totality of the Maronite Church, both in Lebanon and beyond its borders. Moreover, through concerts and records, it revitalized an authentic Lebanese and Arabic musical heritage.

1. Foundation
The Choir of Kaslik was founded, together with the construction of the University, in 1950, as a new Scholasticate of the Lebanese Maronite Order. This choir of men consisted of young scholastics (17-25 years in age) to whom postulants (11-15 year-old boys), from the same Order, were joined.

Since the foundation of the Institute of Musicology (October 31, 1970), Fr. Louis Hage affiliated the choir of the young religious of the Scholasticate of the Holy Spirit of Kaslik to it. Fr. Louis Hage was the director of the choir until 1986. Simultaneously he called for women’s voices, in order to transform it into a mixed choir. The number of choristers, at that time, consisted of around forty people.

From 1986, Fr. Youssef Tannous, director of the aforementioned Institute, (Afterwards Dean of the School of Music and Performing Arts between 1993 and 1995), started enrolling students from the Institute into the choir that now comprises one hundred people. With the transformation of the Institute into the School of Music and Performing Arts in 1993, the choir is sometimes called the “Choir of the School of Music and Performing Arts” and at other times the “Choir of the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik”.

It must be noted, however, that the choir of Scholasticate men’s voices still exists as an independent entity.
The choir of the Institute of Musicology is greatly renowned, both nationally and internationally. It has been invited to give many concerts in Lebanon and abroad, as well as being responsible for choral singing during Masses and other extremely ceremonious events.

2. Members
Since November 1970, the choir has normally consisted of four mixed voices; soprano, alto, tenor and bass. According to the repertoire, the choir sings, alone or with soloists, either monodies or polyphonies, a cappella or with instrumental accompaniment.

2.1. Singers
Usually, the choir members are between the ages of 18 and 40. Starting in 1986, the number of choir members began to reach one hundred. The men’s voices belong mainly to the LMO scholastics, whereas the women’s voices are those of nuns, coming from different congregations and of young girls, women and students.

The choir members are supposed to have beautiful voices or, at least, correct voices. The majority, who also possesses sufficient musical knowledge, are choir conductors in their own parishes and institutions. Thus, the choir of Kaslik sets the terms regarding the choice of diverse repertoires of sacred music and the interpretation of this kind of music.

2.2. Soloists
While the choir of Kaslik is established as the main interpreter of the repertoire songs, the soloists, either men or women, also hold a place within it. The director makes every effort to balance the intervention of soloists in the singing of the choir. There are men and women soloists for Oriental music and others for Occidental music.

2.3. Instrumentalists
According to executed repertoires, the choir sings with or without instruments. The sacred Oriental monodies are traditionally sung without instrumental accompaniment. Only a few metallic repercussions (nāqūs and cymballs) are allowed on certain liturgical occasions (cf., in this respect, Louis Hage, Musique Maronite, volume II), whereas the instrumental accompaniment is common in solemn Masses and concerts. Oriental selections are accompanied by the nāy, the‘ūd, the qānūn, the violin, cymbals and the nāqūs. Occidental selections of Occidental character are usually accompanied by the organ.

2.4. The Director
Since the founding of the choir, directors have been instilling, within it, the spirit of the sacred. For them, the choir’s ethic is as important as its artistic quality. Impregnated with the spirituality of the Maronite as well as that of Gregorian liturgical singing, they know how to impart qualities of seriousness and dignity to their choir.
This choir has had many directors:

The most well-known between 1950 et 1970 :
  • Fr. Youssef Khoury
  • Fr. Youssef Al Achqar
  • Fr. Jean El Hage.

Successive directors starting from 1970 :
  • Fr. Louis Hage (1970-1986)
  • Fr. Youssef Tannous (1986-1995)
  • Fr. Youssef Michaelides (1995-1998)
  • Fr. Louis Hage (1998-2007)
  • Fr. Miled Tarabay (2007-2009)
  • Fr. Youssef Tannous (2009)
  • Fr. Badih El Hajj (Present)

3. Repertoire
The choir’s repertoire is quite varied. We can distinguish two wide axes within it, one of sacred music and the other of secular music. The first one includes Syriac and Arabic Maronite songs as well as diverse Oriental and Occidental songs. The second comprises Lebanese folk songs, classical Arabic songs and Occidental songs.

3.1. Sacred Songs
Sacred songs encompass Syriac songs belonging to the two Maronite and Jacobite rituals (Syrian Orthodox and Syrian Catholic) and songs of Byzantine and Armenian rituals, as well as songs in Arabic; plus Occidental and Oriental songs, composed in other languages.

3.1.1. Syriac songs are liturgical traditional songs. The choir performs these songs on three occasions; in Masses and Offices, in concerts, in audio cassettes or CD recordings.

3.1.2. Songs in the Arabic language include:
  • Syrian Arabic songs, which are Syriac or originally Syriac melodies but whose texts are in Arabic. They may be new texts or new translations of the original Syriac texts.
  • Contemporary Arabic songs, composed during the XXth century. These comprise psalms, hymns and diverse compositions.

3.1.3. Occidental and Oriental foreign songs belong generally to other rituals; Armenian, Byzantine, and Latin (in different European languages, such as German, English, French, Italian, and Latin). These songs may also be the famous works of classical composers.

3.2. Secular Songs
Secular songs include folkloric and folk Lebanese songs, Arabic and Lebanese classical songs (especially Arabo-Andalousian songs, also called “Muwachchahāt andalusiyyaẗ”) and Occidental songs.

3.3. Performances and Activities
The choir has appeared in hundreds of radio and television programs, as well as on dozens of tapes and CDs (45 and 33 compact lathes) edited in Lebanon and abroad. Moreover, it has performed many concerts and provided the service of solemn Masses in Lebanon, and other Arabic countries; also European, American and Australian countries, and many more, such as Palestine, Jordan, Tunisia, Kuwait, Egypt, Syria, Italy, Belgium, Vatican, Spain, Germany, France, England, Cyprus, the United States, Canada, Australia, etc.

Holy Spirit University of Kaslik
Tel.: (+961) 9 600 000
Fax : (+961) 9 600 100
© Copyright USEK 2024
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