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Classical 101

Not-So-Plainchant Captivates Columbus

If, indeed, Gregorian chant (or plainchant) is generally regarded as arcane and outmoded beyond one's ken, you wouldn't know it based on the vibrancy of the program or the size of the audience Friday night, when the Medieval music ensembles Dialogos and Sequentia teamed up at Columbus' Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral on Early Music in Columbus' series. Plainchant is a vast musical repertory that emerged in the Middle Ages to fill the worship needs of early Church throughout the Holy Roman Empire. Although Charlemagne called for the standardization of plainchant throughout his empire, local traditions couldn't help but spring up. The result is a richly varied - even though, after the erosion of nearly two millennia, incomplete - repertory of hauntingly gorgeous music that comes as close as anything I know to offering the average guy an experience of time travel. That this ancient music has been placed in the hands (and voices) of two of the world's foremost early music scholar-performers seems nothing less than the work of destiny, that fate itself has conspired not only to preserve this music (which exists today in what is believe to be but a paltry fraction of the original manuscripts that once contained it) but also to bring it before current and future generations in compelling ways. Katarina Livljanic, founder and director of the Medieval music ensemble Dialogos, and Benjamin Bagby