Concert "A glimpse on the Syriac traditions" at the Martin Bodmer Foundation, Geneva (CH)


Geneva, 6 February 2022 – A concert of Syriac sacred chant directed by Poles Gajuo will take place at 5 pm at the Martin Bodmer Foundation in Cologny (GE, CH),  with soloists Liqaa Marooki, Marie Wahida, Poles Gajuo, accompanied by Carles Dorador Jove (oud), Fadi Esber (percussion), Fadi Wahida (qanun).

The Laus Plena Foundation is very happy to support this concert with the Lausanne High School of Design (ECAL) and the Martin Bodmer Foundation.

On the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the Lausanne Graduate School of Design (ECAL) (1821-2021), the school conducted a beautiful project with its students, under the patronage of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees: They designated new Syriac fonts, with the aim to help supporting the identity of Syro-Aramaic refugees, encouraging Aramaic communities to communicate with their alphabet. In fact, under the Ottoman Empire, the use of the Syriac alphabet was forbidden, and the Syro-Aramaic, except for their clergy, became used to using other alphabets to write their language. No alphabet, however, allows their language to be rendered in the way that the Syriac alphabet does.

The concert is part of the first of three study afternoons titled "WRITINGS OF THE WORLD - SCRIPTS OF THE WORLD". The 6 February 2022 conference, dedicated to Syro-Aramaic typography ("The writings of Aram: Syriac and Aramaic typography - The scripts of ' Aram: Syriac-Aramaic Typefaces), is intended to present the aforementioned ECAL project and its outcome. The concert, which will crown this very interesting event, will allow to hear the Syriac language in music, after discussing its scriptural aspects.

Admission is free, upon registration on the following website:

The concert will be broadcast by the Syriac TV “Suryoyo”.



L’ECAL/Ecole cantonale d’art de Lausanne et la Fondation Martin Bodmer s’unissent pour célébrer la création typographique et les écritures du monde. L’ECAL présente des projets inédits en typographie contemporaine et graphisme, issus de ses formations Bachelor Design Graphique et Master Type Design, en les confrontant au patrimoine classé UNESCO de la Fondation Martin Bodmer à travers un cycle de conférences, d’événements et d’ateliers les dimanches après-midi 6 février, 27 février et 20 mars 2022.


ECAL/University of Art and Design Lausanne and the Fondation Martin Bodmer have joined forces to celebrate typographic creation and the scripts of the world. ECAL will present original projects in contemporary typography and graphic design, from its Bachelor Graphic Design and Master Type Design programmes, comparing them with Fondation Martin Bodmer’s UNESCO listed heritage through a series of lectures, events and workshops on Sunday afternoons on 6 February, 27 February and 20 March 2022.


PROGRAMME 06.02.22, 2-6 pm  

Les écritures d’Aram: typographie syriaque et araméenne

The Scripts of Aram: Syriac-Aramaic Typefaces


Conférences Guest speakers:

Elena Baranowski, Nicolas Bernklau, Matthieu Cortat, Nicolas Ducimetière, Véronique Nebel, Melki Toprak, Tony Ürek

Ateliers Workshops

Presse Gutenberg avec / Gutenberg Press with Yvan Hostettler

Écriture syriaque et araméenne avec la Fédération des Araméens en Suisse -Syriac-Aramaic script with the Aramean Federation of Switzerland


de l’Ensemble ARAM dirigé par Jalal Polus Gajo - Regard sur les traditions syriaques

by Ensemble ARAM led by Jalal Polus Gajo - A glimpse on Syriac traditions


Program of the concert « A glimpse on the Syriac traditions »

6 February 2022, 5 pm

Martin Bodmer Foundation, Route Martin-Bodmer 19 1223 Cologny (Genève, Switzerland)

Direction: Polus Gajo

Soloists : Liqaa Marooki, Marie Wahida, Polus Gajo

Carles Dorador I Jove (oud)

Fadi Esber (percussions)

Fadi Wahida (qanun)


Yawmon émar wo (Today the Lord said) – Syriac Tradition, Palm Sunday (soloists : Liqaa MAROOKI & Polus GAJO)

Azʿéq ʿito (The Church acclaimed) – Tradition Chaldéenne, Dimanche des Rameaux (soloists: Marie WAHIDA & Polus GAJO)

Kefneth kmo zabnin (How many times was I hungry !) – Tradition Syriaque, Carême et repentir (soloists : Liqaa MAROOKI & Polus GAJO)

Ho qtilo bmesrén (The Easter Lamb was killed in Egypt) – Tradition Syriaque, Jeudi Saint (soloists : Liqaa MAROOKI & Polus GAJO)

Laslibo Soghdinan (We venerate the Cross) – Tradition Syriaque, Vendredi Saint (soloists: Liqaa MAROOKI & Polus GAJO)

Boʿoutho dmor Yaʿqoub (Les élèves de Saint Jacob) – Tradition Maronite, Résurrection (soloist : Marie WAHIDA)

Mariam koufil bouka (Marie, arrête de pleurer) - Tradition Maronite, Résurrection (soloists : Liqaa MAROOKI, Marie WAHIDA & Polus GAJO)

Baqyomteh dmalko mchiho (Par la résurrection du Christ Roi) – Tradition Syriaque, Résurrection (soloist : Liqaa MAROOKI)

O gannana (Ô jardinier) – Tradition Chaldéenne, Résurrection (Soliste : Marie WAHIDA)

Ho qom léh qṭilo mén qabro (Voici, celui qui a été tué est ressuscité du tombeau) - Tradition Syriaque orientale, Résurrection (Solistes : Liqaa MAROOKI & Polus GAJO)


The Syriac musical tradition

Syriac faithful around the world like to say that their music enters right into the heart. As for myself, I have learned to love it more and more with the years and to profoundly respect it. But I fully understood the great value of my tradition only after seeing how much attention and respect has been given to it in the West. My dream has started to become true: It seems I am allowed to serve this tradition and to show how beautiful it is. In its simplicity and with its rhythms which support its powerful texts, it allows the soul to be lifted. It is a music that goes from earth to heaven.

Polus Gajo

The Syriac musical tradition is a daughter of the great musical cultures of ancient Mesopotamia - the oldest musical cultures known to date. It is the tradition at the heart of early Christianity. Its character is warm and intimate, and it also emanates a great fervor.

The Syriac Church of Antioch, from which it stems, spread very quickly in the Middle East and up to the Far East, and grafted itself on to great pre-existing civilizations. We owe her, thanks to the fervor of her populations, who loved singing, the development of the hymnody, and it is documented that chants for the liturgy have multiplied in the Patriarchate of Antioch. She participated in Jerusalem to the crystallization of the rites between the 4th and 9th centuries, and most probably to the consolidation of some shared principles of Christian musical traditions. Among those, the Octoéchos system or system of eight musical liturgical modes is profoundly integrated in its chanted liturgy.  It is also used by the Latin Gregorian tradition, and by the byzantine, Armenian and Georgian traditions.

Behind the apparent simplicity of Syriac chants - which allows it to be easely sung by the Congregation - hides a great art of composition and complex musical liturgical cycles. The melody is intended to support and carry the text. The texts of the Syriac chants have poetic structures which interact in a precise way with the melody. The rhythms are very complex and vary significantly within the context of the same song. The melody slows down the ordinary rhythm of the spoken word a little, so that one is more attentive to the text. The melody itself is entrusted to the text and to collective memory: there is no musical notation. It is the texts of the chants, and their titles, which serve as a reference to the melodies, which must be  known by heart. These are often used with several texts having the same poetic structure. The Octoéchos cycle provides for an alternation of melodies for the same texts in cycles of 8 weeks and for the feasts. 

The Syriac musical tradition has withstood the adversities of its history by perpetuating itself unceasingly. It has come to us today with the many faces and sub-traditions of which this concert attempts to give a very brief glimpse. This extraordinary musical richness, transmitted from generation to generation with edifying fidelity, truly deserves our full attention, and our great admiration.

The Laus Plena Foundation (based on research papers issued by Polus Gajo)


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