Priest Ivan Moody

Ivan Moody was born in London in 1964. He studied music and theology at the Universities of London (winning the Royal Holloway Prize in 1984 for his Three Poems of Anna Akhmatova), Joensuu and York (where he obtained his Ph.D), his composition teachers being Brian Dennis, Sir John Tavener and William Brooks. He lives at present in Estoril, Portugal, with his wife, the singer Susana Diniz Moody, and their three children, Sebastian, Sofia and Barbara.

  Eastern liturgical chant has had a profound influence on his music, as has the spirituality and liturgy of the Orthodox Church. His music has been performed and broadcast all over Europe, both East and West, as well as in Japan, the USA and South America. Following the enormous success of Canticum Canticorum I, written for the Hilliard Ensemble and performed by them all over the world, in 1990 he won the Arts for the Earth Festival Prize for Prayer for the Forests, which was subsequently premièred by the renowned Tapiola Choir in Finland. One of his most important works to date is the oratorio Passion and Resurrection (1992), based on Orthodox liturgical texts, which was premièred in June 1993 by Red Byrd and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir under Tõnu Kaljuste at the Tampere Festival and recorded by Finnish Radio. It was subsequently repeated and broadcast to great acclaim in the Netherlands, the USA and Great Britain, and has been recorded on CD by Hyperion. The work was toured in the USA (Portland, Seattle, Irvine and Los Angeles) in October 2002 by Cappella Romana, under the composer’s direction, to rapturous applause. In April 2003 Passion and Resurrection was given its Canadian première by Canzona under the distinguished conductor Henry Engbrecht.

  The same year also produced the viola concerto Vigil of the Angels, premièred to a standing ovation by its dedicatee Alexandre Delgado and the Lisbon Sinfonietta, and the following year Ivan Moody completed a 'cello concerto, Epitaphios. It was premièred with tremendous success by Raphael Wallfisch and La Camerata at the Megaron Mousikis in Athens in May 1995, and subsequently taken up by Paul Marleyn and the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, who gave the work's triumphant Canadian première (recorded and broadcast by CBC) in October 1999. The Armenian ‘cellist Levon Mouradian gave its Portuguese première with the Lisbon Sinfonietta in November 2002. Among the series of vocal works written subsequently, of particular importance are two works for the German ensemble Singer Pur: Le Renard et le Buste, first performed in the Bayreuth Opera House in June 1995, and Lamentation of the Virgin, which received its first performance in Nuremberg in May 1995. This work was subsequently recorded by Singer Pur on a disc for Oehsm Classics in 2003.  1996 saw the first broadcast on BBC Radio 3 by the Taverner Consort under Andrew Parrott of Revelation, a substantial choral work with narrator on texts from The Apocalypse, and the first performances of In Nomine by Fretwork in Evia, Greece and the cycle Endechas y Canciones, by the Hilliard Ensemble, in Leipzig, subsequently recorded on their double album for ECM, "A Hilliard Songbook".

  The third in the concerto series, Pnevma, for recorder and strings, commissioned by the Lisbon Sinfonietta, was premièred with António José Carrilho as soloist at the 1998 Mafra International Festival, and the series of vocal pieces has continued with O Taphos (to a text by Kostas Palomas) for Michael Chance and Fretwork, Lullaby for a Byzantine Princess for the soprano Suzie Leblanc, The Meeting in the Garden, premièred by the Grupo Vocal Olisipo in Lisbon in October 1998, and Words of the Angel, first performed by the three female voices of the Norwegian group Trio Mediaeval in Oslo in December 1998 and subsequently released to tremendous critical acclaim on CD by ECM in 2001. The success of Words of the Angel has outstripped even that of Canticum Canticorum, and has become a regular feature in Trio Mediaeval’s concerts. Ivan Moody’s largest work to date, the Akathistos Hymn, for a cappella choir (the first complete setting of the text since the middle ages), was premièred by the American choir Cappella Romana under Alexander Lingas with resounding success in Portland, Oregon, and repeated in Seattle, in January 1999. The work was also toured in the USA in Spring 2001 and was recorded on CD in August 2002, with the composer producing; the double-disc set has subsequently been released on the Gothic label).

  1999 saw the first performances of Apokathilosis, (Amarcord Ensemble, Leipzig, May 1999), Cantos Mozárabes II, (premiered at the Mafra Festival in October 1999 by Julia Gooding and Sophie Yates) and Canticle of Light, (premiered by Invocation in Horsham on 31st December, 1999), and, in the following year, The Troparion of Kassiani (premiered by the Trio Mediaeval in Oslo, March 2000), The Adoration of the Lamb (premiered by The Tallis Scholars, Dorchester, July 2000) and Penthos for viola and marimba, premiered by André Cameron and Pedro Carneiro at the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon in May 2000.  Three important premières in 2001 were those of The Prophecy of Symeon, commissioned by Oporto European Capital of Culture 2001 and premiered to great acclaim by the Grupo Vocal Olisipo in October 2001, Vecheri Tvoeya, premiered by the Pravoslava Chamber Choir, Lisbon in November 2001, under the composer’s direction, and the string quartet Lamentations of the Myrrhbearer, premiered at the Gulbenkian Foundation in December 2001.

  Subsequent works include Chalice of Wisdom, for Amarcord, The Blessed Among Women, Weeping, for Red Byrd, which will receive their first performances during the 2003-4 season. In addition, Supplication for Peace, scored for male voices, was awarded top honours by "Waging Peace through Singing", based in Oregon, USA, an international initiative prompted by the tragic events of 11th September 2001. Premièred in 2002 were In Paradise of Old, by the Schola Cantorum of St Peter the Apostle, Chicago, under the direction of J. Michael Thompson, for whom it was written; Anghelu for double bass quartet, given on 29th June, 2002 in a remarkable concert by the twelve double-basses of Contr’orquestra, at the Teatro Garcia de Rezende in Évora; and Lumière sans déclin, scored for baroque string orchestra, which was premièred by Les Voix Baroques at the Jusqu’ aux Oreilles Festival in Montréal (Québec, Canada) in August 2002.

Works premièred in 2003 include Erimos, given by the Scottish vocal group Canty, in a series of concerts in Scottish cities in June, Isconsolada, premièred by the Winterthur Vocal Ensemble under the composer’s direction on 13th and 15th June in Oberwinterthur and Rheinau, Switzerland, Canon for Theophany and Exaposteilarion for Pascha, given by the Orthodox Choir of the University of Joensuu, directed by the composer, at a hugely successful gala concert at the Carelia Hall, Joensuu, on 22 May, and Lullaby for a Byzantine Princess, given by Suzie Leblanc and the Quatuor Alcan on 5th June as part of the New Music Series in Vancouver, Canada, which followed on the Canadian première of Passion and Resurrection under the direction of Henry Engbrecht in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on 13th April. This year also saw the Australian première of Pnevma, as part of the Melbourne Autumn Music Festival, as well as its third Portuguese performance, at the Leiria Festival, and the world première of A Lion’s Sleep, in a concert given by Trio Mediaeval in the chapel of Trinity College, Cambridge on 18 July. October saw the first performance of the play Diálogo das Compensadas, by the Portuguese theatre group Fatias de Cá, in the Castelo de São Jorge in Lisbon, with music specially composed by Ivan Moody and recorded under the composer’s direction.

  Both A Lion’s Sleep and Troparion for Kassiani were recorded for a new disc on ECM, whose launch in Oslo in January 2004 (celebrated with a concert given by Trio Mediaeval ending with Troparion of Kassiani) the composer attended.  Another major work, The Dormition of the Virgin, a large-scale cantata commissioned by the BBC for soloists, choir and instrumental ensemble, was premièred to prolonged applause by the BBC Singers and St James Baroque under the direction of Stephen Layton at the Temple Church, London, on 21st May, 2004 (the work was also recorded by the BBC for future broadcast), following a monographic concert given to celebrate the composer’s 40th birthday at Christchurch Cathedral, Oxford, on the preceding day.  Crocifissione, for voices and brass, commissioned by the Antidogma Festival for performance by the DolciAure Consort of Turin, received its première on 19 June 2004 in the magnificent surroundings of the Abbazia di Staffarda, and another major première was that of the piano concerto Linnunlaulu, given by the young Portuguese pianist Elsa Silva and Orchestrutopica at the Mafra Festival on 10 October.  The year ended with a further series of performances of the play Diálogo das Compensadas in Lisbon, and the première of O Viridissima Virga, a setting of words by Hildegard of Bingen for the St Louis Chamber Chorus. 

  2005 was a year of premières, including those of two works for the Scottish choir Cappella Nova, He Who Clothed Himself in Light and Aurora radius, given four performances as part of a Scottish tour in March; of Arktos, by Singer Pur and the York Women’s Chamber Chorus in June; of Passione Popolare, a large-scale work for soloists, chamber choir and ensemble, commissioned by the Antidogma Festival, given a rapturous reception at the Abbazia di Staffarda; of Clépsidra, a song cycle on poems by Camillo Pessanha commissioned by the Casa de Música, Oporto, in November; and, in Mexico, Ossetian Requiem for chamber choir and eight ‘cellos, commissioned by the extraordinary Amsterdam-based ensemble ‘Cello Octet Conjunto Ibérico – the European première took place in the Netherlands in March 2006, and was recorded by KRO and the EBU.  The wind quintet Zefiro con Uccelli was also recorded by the Versus Wind Quintet for a new CD.

  Works completed subsequently include Ravenna Sanctus, for the San Franciso-based ensemble Chanticleer (part of a multi-movement work commissioned from five different composers), recorded on Warner Classics, Te Apostolit..., to be premèred by Cappella Romana under the composer’s direction in early 2008,  Oída es Voz de Tórtola for the Spanish recorder consort Sforzinda, premièred during the Festival e Música Religiosa de Almeria under the composer’s direction on 8th April 2006, and The Bird of Dawning for the Grupo de Música Contemporânea de Lisboa (premièred at the Palácio Foz, Lisbon, on 25th May 2006).  At the request of the Finnish conductor Petri Nykänen, he also made a Finnish-language setting of the Vigil Service of the Orthodox Church, parts of which were premièred at the Pyhan Kosketus Festival in Ilomantsi, Finland, in July 2006 and others at a concert as part of the Second International Conference on Orthodox Church Music, in Joensuu, Finland, in June 2007, both under the composer’s direction; an English version will follow in due course.  November saw the première of Seven Hymns to St Sava by Camerata Academica under Bogdan Djakovic in Novi Sad, Serbia.
  Further new works included Morning of Light, a concertante work for ‘cellist Levon Mouradian, a song cycle on poems by Anna Akhmatova for Tapestry and the Moscow String Quartet, a harp concerto, Lacrime d’Ambra for Andreia Marques and the Grupo de Música Contemporânea de Lisboa (premièred on 23 May 2007) and …l’altre stelle, for the baroque ensemble of the Palermo Conservatoire under the direction of Enrico Onofri.  A particularly interesting and original project was the “Kleine Musik” project, a series of sacred concertos (Kleine Geitliche Konzerte and Symphoniae Sacrae, mirroring works by Heinrich Schütz) for the ensemble Sete Lágrimas, which were recorded in September 2007 and released on the highly successful CD “Kleine Musik” ( This was followed by the composition of music for a film directed by Aurora Ribeiro, Valo for recorder and piano (commissioned by António Carrilho), Trisagion for baritone and orchestra, premièred by Armando Possante and Orchestrutopica in Lisbon on 22 September 2007, Pipistrello for solo tuba and brass ensemble, commissioned by the virtuoso tubist Sérgio Carolino, Istella for bass flute and percussion, premièred in May 2008 by the Machina Mundi duo and recorded by RDP2, and Led by the Light, commissioned by the Finnish vocal ensemble Lumen Valo and first performed in Helsinki in December 2008.

Recently premièred large-scale works include Moons and Suns, based on a text from the Kalevala, which received a thunderous welcome at the Garnisons Kirke, Copenhagen, where it was performed by its commissioners, Ars Nova and the Raschèr Saxophone Quartet under Paul Hillier, and Stabat Mater, a commission from the Oslo International Festival of Church Music. This was given by the Norwegian Soloists' Choir and the Vertavo Quartet under the direction of Grete Pederson in Oslo in March 2009 and accorded a rapturous reception from audience and press alike. Forthcoming first performances include Remembering for alto flute and percussion, two new works for the next recording by Sete Lágrimas, Genesis and Russian Hymn, Canti della Rosa, for the King’s Singers, and Hymn to St Nicholas, commissioned by the KotorArt Festival in Serbia for the KotorArt Festival Choir.

Ivan Moody's music has been broadcast in many countries, and has been featured on the Finnish television programme Jeesuksen syntymäjuhla and in Britain, on both Channel 4 and BBC television. His work has been featured particularly at the Tampere International Choir Festival (Finland), the Musica Sacra festival in Maastricht (Holland), the York, Thaxted, Little Missenden, Presteigne, Spitalfields and Byzantium in London festivals (Great Britain), the Mafra International Music Festival, Estoril, Leiria and Capuchos Festivals (Portugal) and the Byzantium Festival in Plovdiv (Bulgaria). In 1994 he was Composer in Residence at the Hilliard Summer Festival (which finished with the première of Hymn to the Light), and in 1996 was Composer in Residence for the 3rd International Festival of Voices and Viols in Evia, Greece, which culminated in the first performance of the cantata John in the Desert, to a text by the poet Yannis Ifantis. In 1999 he was invited to give composition seminars at the Universities of Toronto and Manitoba, Canada, and in 2002 gave similar seminars in the USA, at Reed College, Portland, OR and the University of Oregon, as part of a residency. In March 2003 he gave a seminar on his own music at the University of Joensuu, Finland, as part of his residency there, and in May 2004 lectured at the Universities of York, Joensuu and Belgrade, at the Uspensky Cathedral, Helsinki (by invitation of the Finnish Association of Church Musicians), the Academy of Arts and the Matica Srpska Gallery in Novi Sad, Serbia.  In 2005 he chaired the First International Conference on Orthodox Music at the University of Joensuu, gave papers at the Institute of Orthodox Christian Studies in Cambridge, and at the International Conference on Monody at the Universidade Nova in Lisbon; in January 2006 he returned to the University of Oregon to give further seminars, and also lectured at conferences in Cambridge (UK), Ilomantsi (Finland), Chicago (USA) and Belgrade (Serbia).  In 2007 he chaired and spoke at the Second International Conference on Orthodox Music at the University of Joensuu, and in 2008 gave a lecture/seminar with Arvo Pärt as part of the RTÉ Living Music Festival in Dublin, Ireland, and was the keynote speaker at a conference on the future of Orthodox Church music at the Sofia Cultural Centre in Helsinki.  Until 1998 he was Professor of Composition at the Academia de Artes e Tecnologias, Lisbon, and currently teaches privately.

  Ivan Moody is also extremely active as a conductor. He has directed a considerable number of choirs and vocal groups, notably Voces Angelicae and the Kastalsky Chamber Choir in Britain (both of which he founded) and Capilla Peña Florida in Spain. In 1992 he was invited by Radio Nacional de España to direct the inaugural concert in celebration of Columbus Day, broadcast live to more than 30 countries. He is a founder member of Ensemble Alpha, specializing in eastern and western mediaeval music, and which has given hugely successful concerts in various European countries and the USA, and of the Pravoslava chamber choir (the only choir devoted exclusively to Orthodox sacred repertoire in the Iberian Peninsula). He is in frequent demand as a guest conductor, and has given courses with a number of groups, such as Capilla Peña Florida (Spain), Vértice and the choir of the Semanas Internacionais de Música (Portugal) and the Early Music Ensemble of the UFF (Brazil). In October 2002 Ivan Moody conducted the American ensemble Cappella Romana in a hugely successful West Coast concert tour of his oratorio Passion and Resurrection on the West Coast of the United States, and in 2003 directed the Winterthur Vocal Ensemble in Switzerland and the Orthodox Choir of the University of Joensuu, Finland, in a concerts featuring his own music.  in May 2004 he worked with the choir of St George’s Cathedral, Novi Sad, Serbia, presenting and lecturing on his own music, and conducted them again in 2005 in Lisbon.  January 2006 saw a further tour with Cappella Romana, centred around the composer’s Canon for Theophany and featuring Orthodox church music from Serbia and Bulgaria, and a concert with the Spanish ensemble Sforzinda.  In 2007 he worked again with the Orthodox Choir of the University of Joensuu, Finland, and from September to December 2007 was Resident Guest Conductor of the Odyssea Choir in Lisbon.  January 2008 saw a further, hugely successful tour with Cappella Romana, this time of Finnish Orthodox music, which resulted in the recording of a CD of the same repertoire in September of the same year. In October 2008 he is the guest conductor for the concert to be held as part of the Commemorations of 90 years of Orthodox Theological Education in Finland, featuring the Orthodox Choir of Joensuu University and the Orthodox Cantor's Choir (directed by Petri Nykänen). Future engagements include concerts in Finland, the USA, Spain and Serbia.

  Formerly a member of the choir of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in London, under the direction of Fr Michael Fortounatto, he served as cantor in both Greek and Bulgarian parishes in Lisbon until his ordination to the diaconate and then the priesthood in 2007.

  He has edited a large number of performing editions of sacred music, including 16th century music from England, Spain, Portugal and Mexico and Russian Orthodox repertoire, much of which is published by the Chester, Faber, Mapa Mundi and Novello publishing houses, and has frequently served as musicological and programme consultant for such specialist performers as The Tallis Scholars, The Sixteen, the Orlando Consort, the Hilliard Ensemble and Westminster Cathedral Choir. He has contributed insert notes for recordings on the Collins Classics, ECM, Etcetera, Gimell, Glossa, Hyperion, Ikon, Mà de Guido, Nimbus, Philips, Sony, Stradivarius, Virgin and Harmonia Mundi labels.

  As a writer, Ivan Moody contributes regularly to Gramophone, International Record Review and Goldberg (of whose editorial panel he is a member), and has published a substantial number of articles on contemporary and early music in Contact, Composer, Musical Times, Contemporary Music Review, Anuario Musical, Revista Portuguesa de Musicologia, Plainsong & Mediaeval Music, Jacob's Well, Choir and Organ and Tempo. He is a contributor to the revised edition of the New Grove Dictionary of Music, the forthcoming Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology and Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, Managing Editor of Harwood Academic Publishers' series Music Archive Publications and one of the editors of the De Clavichordio series, published by Musica Antica, Magnano (Italy). He has collaborated regularly, as programme advisor, writer and lecturer, with international music festivals including the Tampere and Turku Festivals (Finland), Juiz de Fora (Brazil), Holland Festival Oude Muziek (Utrecht, Holland), the Gulbenkian Early Music Series (Lisbon, Portugal), Hilliard Summer Festival (Cambridge, England) and the Almeida and Spitalfields Festivals (London, England).  He has collaborated on the construction of a database for the Portuguese Contemporary Music Centre, is a member of the CESEM research unit at the Universidade Nova in Lisbon, and was recently re-elected Chairman of the International Society for Orthodox Church Music, attached to the University of Joensuu, Finland.

Works recorded by Archangel Voices: