Thomas Aquinas takes off


DMus Hilkka-Liisa Vuori

Our very last concert and lectures within the Kone Foundation project were hold in Lund Cathedral and Lund University over the weekend 6th‒7th of March 2020. This was also the last weekend open for travelling before the restrictions of corona-virus took place in Finland.

What happened in the Lund Cathedral to the chants dedicated to St Thomas Aquinas? It was an interesting experience from the artistic point of view. The chants took off! We have been singing these office chants with Johanna and brother Marie-Augustin O.P. since 2014. Six years is a short time from the Medieval perspective. In the fast moving culture of today, it is already a long time.

Every time I start to operate with new chants, I am prepared to the fact that the chants open themselves little by little. For the musician, first there is the melody, secondly comes the text. The Medieval chants are texts carried by the melodies. The texts take over very fast. Every breath and sound is meant to express the text in the most humble way. Third experience with the chants are the modes. What is the combination of the text and melody? What is the information within the prayer?

It seems the Lund Cathedral recognized these chants. The Dominicans have been there since 13th century. The chants sounded darker, lighter, more mysterious than ever before. The contrasts between the chants were greater than before. We sang faster the passionate chants, and more meditative the mysterious chants. Everything grew in dimensions: the chants took off and the saint with them. It felt like the chants were communicating with each other. The information is in the chants but also in the silence between them. Every chant had an effect on the next one.

With the Medieval chants it seems to me as a singer and a scholar, the time given is of essence. The chants need time, and they also need space to change, to develop in the relationship with each other and the churches in question. In case of Lund Cathedral, the echo of the church invited us to sing the chants with a new solemnity as well as with a new wildness. The Cathedral was our fourth singer.

In the photo: Happy singers and lecturers in Lund Cathedral. (Seppo Heikkinen, Marika Räsänen, br. Marie-Augustin O.P., Johanna Korhonen and Hilkka-Liisa Vuori.)