Film Screening | The Voice of Hagia Sophia

Fri October 26th 2018, 5:30 - 7:00pm
Event Sponsor
Department of Art & Art History
Oshman Hall, McMurtry Building
Free and open to the public Q&A with the filmmakers to follow
Film Screening | The Voice of Hagia Sophia

Documentary film, 24 minutes, 2018

An acoustic and visual exploration of the 1500-year-old Hagia Sophia in Istabul (Turkey), built by emperor Justinian in the sixth century and recognized as the largest domed interior in the Mediterranean before the Renaissance rebuilding of St. Peter’s. For centuries, resonant voice and bounded light worked together in this magnificent interior to evoke the divine. Today as a museum, the function of the space has changed and no singing is allowed inside. Stanford’s interdisciplinary project “Icons of Sound” (2008-present), directed by Bissera Pentcheva (Art History) and Jonathan Abel (Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics) and in collaboration with the foremost choir for Byzantine chant in North America, Cappella Romana, have revived Hagia Sophia’s soundscape. Using digital technology, the team has successfully imprinted the acoustic signature of that space on live sound and produced two major concerts at Stanford's Bing Hall. This documentary records the innovative research of “Icons of Sound” that bridges technology with humanties and shows how the insights gained have deepened our understanding of Hagia Sophia’s complex history. This is particularly exigent in the current moment when this UNESCO World Monument is threatened to be converted back into a mosque and the traces of its Christian legacy––wiped out.

Q&A with Duygu Erucman and Bissera Pentcheva after the screening.


Duygu Eruçman – Director, Editor & Co-Producer
Duygu Eruçman is a documentary filmmaker from Izmir, Turkey. Her short documentaries have screened in many film festivals around the world. Duygu holds an MFA in Documentary Film and Video from Stanford University and a BA in Political Science and International Relations from Bogazici University in Istanbul, Turkey. Currently she works as a video producer in Washington D.C. You can learn more about her work here.

Bissera V. Pentcheva – Producer
Bissera V. Pentcheva is Full Professor at the Department of Art & Art History at Stanford University. Her research on medieval art includes studies on the cult of the Virgin in Byzantium, multi-media relief icons, and an exploration of the architecture, acoustics and ritual in Constantinople’s Great Church, Hagia Sophia. She has published three books with Pennsylvania State University Press: Icons and Power: The Mother of God in Byzantium, 2006 (recipient of the Nicholas Brown Prize of the Medieval Academy of America, 2010), The Sensual Icon: Space, Ritual, and the Senses in Byzantium, 2010, and Hagia Sophia: Sound Space and Spirit in Byzantium, 2017 and edited the volume Aural Architecture: Music, Acoustics, and Ritual in Byzantium, Routledge 2018. You can learn more about her work here.

Image: The Voice of Hagia Sophia 2018. Courtesy of artists Duygu Eruçman and Bissera V. Pentcheva.

VISITOR INFORMATION: Oshman Hall is located in the McMurtry Building, at 355 Roth Way. Visitor parking is free after 4pm on weekdays, except by the oval. 

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