About the Festival

Con spirito

„Bis orat qui bene cantat” – he who sings well praises twice, said St. Augustine of Hippo. This insight goes for everyone who takes part in a musical event, either as a performer or a member of the audience. Number four – the number of seasons, evangelists and points of the compass – marks the spirit of Con spirito Church Music Festival since four Hungarian historical Church along with their liturgies are introduced to the public every year, around the season of Pentecost. In 2015 several concerts, representing the churches of Eastern Christianity, were held in the Eastern part of the country while in 2016 the festival, focused on the power of human voice, was hosted by city of Pécs. That year, gems of Roman Catholic church music were performed by excellent artist from Hungary and abroad. In 2017 – the 500th anniversary of Protestant Reformation – the festival will move to Debrecen. Next year Lutheran Church – that gave as brilliant musicians to the world as Johann Sebastian Bach – will stand in the focus of the festival. Beyond the usual music events the festival programme takes as a mission to provide spiritual – „con spirito” – experience both for believers and atheists, professional musicians and music enthusiasts.

I love music since it is a gift of God

In 1530, Luther wrote:

„I love music   since it is not a gift of Man but a gift of God,
since it brightens human soul,
since it dispels the Devil,
and creating an innocent joy.”

The power of music is underlined by the Old Testament as well: by singing his own psalms, King David dispels the evil genious of Saul.
Luther himself also experienced the power of music that has the capability to brush the sorrow away. He wrote: „The spirit of sorrow is Satan himself for he hates all kind of joy and is averse to music.”
Johann Sebastian comes up with the same idea in his treaty on figured bass, stating: „The ultimate goal of music is praising God and renewing human soul. If someone ignores that, only satanic cacophony and ugly caterwauling (ein teuflisches Geplerr und Geleier) will be the result instead of heavenly music.

These ideas of Luther and Bach are not easy to grasp in our  modern age that has a diabolic character, separating art from life. „Diabolic” originally meant division; indeed, modernity tends to separate things that originally existed in unity, not only life and art but humanity and its divine substance as well.
„In the wake of King David and all the prophets who would speak in songs and poems, I give priority to music, after theology” – Luther wrote, referring to the conception that only these disciplines, theology and music have the power to raise humanity, sunken into materialism, back to the withnes of God. When hearing music, faces of humans, manifestations of the divine image, reflect the brightness of eternity, since God created Man in his own image and likeness, reconstructing the primaeval disposition of existence.

In perfection of the divine creation , art is not a goal but a vehicle, leading us to salvation.
In his sermon, performed in 1554 on the occasion of a church dedication in Torgau, Luther summarized the essence of church service in the following way: „…our sweet Lord speaks to us by his Holy Word and we respond to him by our prayers and canticles of adoration.”

Luther puts a great emphasis on church music and choir singing which, conveying God’s Holy Word, strengthens  the congregation.” Therefore, music can be understood as „praedicatio sonora”, „sonorous sermon”, evoking the content of the Word. In this sense, chirch choir is a symbol – symbol of the congregation, symbol of the community of saints. In our Lutheran Church, the relevance of church music and choir singing, its role in church services , have been determined by the above presented ideas.

ks01_Dr. Salamon Kamp

Kossuth- and Liszt-Prizes, and he is currently habilitated university professor at the Department of Conducting at the Academy of Music and Music Director of the Hungarian Lutheran Church

 


(photo: Gyula Czimbal)

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