Maria Keyrouz – Byzantine Chant

On the whole I found boarding school a period of uninterrupted boredom, though took some relief each morning in compulsory attendance at the school chapel. Though I don’t consider myself a believer I’ve always loved churches for the architecture and the music.

Later when I spent a year in Paris, on one of my weekly visits to a favourite bookshop, I discovered Église Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre, built in the 13th century, one of Paris’ oldest religious buildings, a place of worship for Melkite Christians. I was fortunate to hear one of the oldest forms of Christian liturgy: a rite for Easter Saturday.

It seemed an appropriate time to share a favourite piece of music. Sometime after discovering Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre – a venue also for one of the last “Dada excursions” – I found a cassette tape, in a market stall on the banks of the river, of the extraordinary Maria Keyrouz singing at the church. She sings a Byzantine chant for Easter.

It is a very ancient, Middle eastern form of music, a hypnotic and unearthly drone, the sound perhaps that angels would make.