Sounds of the Cathedral

- in In English, Kultur & Nöje

With the restrictions gone, Lund’s Domkyrka have begun to organize live concerts once again and continues to provide an accessible opportunity for everybody to listen to classical music. Lundagård has set out to explore one of the concerts offered in the imposing cathedral at the city center in early March and has attended a Gregorian chant performed by the quartet Schola Gothia.

Schola Gothia is a professional female vocal quartet, specializing in Gregorian music from the 14-15th centuries, and performed in Lund on the fifth of March. The quartet was joined by Robert Bennesh, who served both as organist and organizer. He is also the director of music at Lund’s Domkyrka.

Robert Bennesh.
Photo: Saber Malmgren.

Robert Bennesh is organizing a series of concerts, like this one, that happen every week in the cathedral. Every Saturday morning there is an organ concert at 10.00, which is often accompanied by other concerts in the afternoon, featuring guest artists. This tradition, which started in 1977, did not stop due the restrictions imposed during to the Covid-19 pandemic. The “Saturday concerts” were still being performed and broadcasted online.

When asked about listening to concerts at Lund’s Domkyrka, Bennesh explained that:

“I believe that it is a great opportunity to experience the cathedral, listening to these concerts, to experience the space (…) sometimes it is wonderful to hear how the music affects you from different places in the cathedral. So, I would say that if you are a regular visitor, sit at different places within the cathedral.”

Indeed, space and ambience were an important aspect of the concert of Schola Gothia as well. The interior of the cathedral is imposingly large and old, and yet it functions effectively as a music venue. This is not surprising, considering that Romanesque churches such as Lund’s Domkyrka were specifically built to be able to provide space to perform Gregorian chants and masses.

In this sense, the concert Gaude Brigitta, performed by Schola Gothia, was a historically authentic journey into the past. Undeniably, the performance worked effectively in this space, because the largely monophonic choir, accompanied only occasionally by the organ, had a particularly powerful effect in the large, but also austere interior.

Concerts such as these can be a great reminder that there are centuries of culture surrounding us, here in Lund, and despite all the darkness throughout history, these arts and traditions persevered. This can be a comforting thought now, with the war raging on in Ukraine. When asked about the recent crisis, and its effect on the attendance, Robert Bennesh stated that:

“The older audience is still cautious to attend a concert setting due to the pandemic, but I generally see more people in the cathedral, to light a candle or to find a place of quietness”.

The concert by Schola Gothia was a deeply touching performance and showcased perfectly why classical and historical music can be such a powerful encounter in the setting of the cathedral. The concerts of Lund’s Domkyrka are open to everybody, regardless of religion, and are a great cultural experience to anybody who is interested.