Phos Hilaron

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Featured Recording

Andrew Tholl, violin
Carrie Campbell, cello

Phos Hilaron is based on a chant and text from the 9th-century plainchant tradition. The piece begins with the entire chant played in the cello. Then it is re-stated in both violin and cello using variation techniques drawn from both Medieval and Classical traditions. Plainchant was religious music written for Christian services outside of the common masses and ordinaries (these more-common services drew entirely from Gregorian chant). Today, Gregorian chant still enjoys continued use and even popularity, but plainchant, often more involved and intricate than its rival, is all but forgotten. The “Phos Hilaron” (Greek for “Gracious Light”) is the call to evening prayer and begins the service of Vespers (or Evensong) with an invocation of the Trinity in the light of the setting sun.

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