VOICES FROM THE MERRY CEMETERY/
VOCILE DIN CIMITIRUL VESEL
‘Voices from the Merry Cemetery’ was recorded
on tour in Romania, at the Sibiu International Theatre
Festival and The Long Road to Sapanta Festival, a collaboration
between an Irish singer, an Irish uilleann piper, musicians
and conductor, and a Romanian men's choir and orchestra.
The music, by Irish composer Shaun Davey (The Brendan
Voyage), incorporates epitaph poems from the colourful
wooden crosses in the Merry Cemetery, Sapanta, Maramures.
View Song lyrics
Performed by the Mens’ Choir of
the Theology Faculty, Sibiu University, Romania, directed
by Pr. Dr. Sorin Dobre, with musicians of the State Philharmonia,
Sibiu, concertmaster and solo violin Cosmin Fidiles, conducted
by David Brophy, soloists Rita Connolly (vocal), Liam
O’Flynn (uilleann pipes and whistle), Rod McVey
(organ and keyboard), Ursula Phillipii (organ), Neil Martin
(cello), Noel Eccles (percussion), Gerry O’Beirne
(guitar), Members of the mixed choir of Sibiu Orthodox
Cathedral appear on track 13.
The CD was recorded and mixed by Brian Masterson, concert
sound by Tom Brandus assisted by Adrian Tabacaru, Antonia
Ecaterinescu and Daniel Gheorghita, production assistant
and translation, Ioana Nistorescu. Arranged and produced
by Shaun Davey.
Special thanks; Michaela Ionescu, John Fairleigh, Constantin
Chiriac, Christine Sisk, Ion Caramitru, Petruta Popescu,
Ursula Philipi, Pr. Grigore Lutsai, Peter and Mihaela
Hurley. The lyrics of Vanturile, Valurile are based on
the poem 'Dintre Sute de Catarge' by Mihai Eminescu (1850-1889)
in which turbulent winds and seas represent forces of
The songs on this album were recorded during two separate
visits to Romania. Firstly, at the concert in the Evangelical
Cathedral, Sibiu, Transylvania in 2009; the last track is
the encore from that concert ('Vanturile, Valurile'). Secondly,
during rehearsals for the Merry Cemetery concert in the
Reformat Church, Sighetu, Maramures in 2010. In Sighetu
a specially-built stage was flown over the church pews in
order to provide floor space for the Men’s Choir (40+
singers), orchestra (13 strings and 2 trumpets), percussion,
soloists and frontline.
The Premiere In Sibiu
‘Voices from the Merry Cemetery’ was conceived
by Irish composer Shaun Davey as a collaboration between
Irish and Romanian musicians, an idea proposed by the Ireland
Romania Cultural Foundation. The songs are in Romanian,
based on epitaphs from the Merry Cemetery, composed for
the Men’s Choir of the Theology Faculty, Sibiu, directed
by Pr. Dr. Sorin Dobre, with Irish soloists Liam O’Flynn
(uilleann pipes and whistle) and Rita Connolly (vocal).
At the first performance in the Evangelical Cathedral, Sibiu,
Transylvania, in June 2009, they were joined by musicians
from the Sibiu State Philharmonic led by concertmaster Cosmin
Fidiles (solo violin), organist Ursula Phillipi, Noel Eccles
(percussion), Gerry O’Beirne (guitar), the Sibiu Orthodox
Cathedral choir and the actor Ion Caramitru. The premiere
was conducted by David Brophy, and hosted by the Sibiu International
Theatre Festival with support from Culture Ireland.
The Long Road To Sapanta
‘Voices from the Merry Cemetery’ was the centerpiece
of ‘The Long Road to Sapanta Festival’, organized
by Peter and Mihaela Hurley in August 2010. The concert
took place in the Merry Cemetery itself. Once again, the
Irish musicians travelled to work with Fr Dobre’s
choir and musicians from the Sibiu State Philharmonic, on
a specially constructed stage amidst the hundreds of carved
wooden crosses. As darkness fell, led by parish priest Fr
Grigore Lutsai, the women of the Sapanta congregation sang
in procession to the stage. A perfect conclusion to the
journey of a piece of music, at the heart of the community
which had inspired it.
The Merry Cemetery
The Merry Cemetery is in Sapanta, Maramures, northern Romania,
on the border with Ukraine. It is a World Heritage site,
famous for its tradition of brightly painted, carved wooden
crosses, a tradition started by Stan Ioan Patras (d.1977)
and continued by Dumitru Pop and present day craftsmen.
The base of each cross is decorated with a painted bas-relief
and poem describing the life of the departed, some full
of pathos, others light-hearted, occasionally comic. Selected
epitaphs provide the lyrics of the songs in ‘Voices
from the Merry Cemetery.