The event features performers including the Collegium Cantorum Choir of the Częstochowa Philharmonic in southern Poland.
It is being attended by 13 choirs from Poland and Ukraine as well as countries such as Slovakia, Armenia, North Macedonia, Egypt, Moldova, Romania and Spain.
According to Mikołaj Buszko, the director of the festival, even though this year’s edition is more modest than in previous years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the economic crisis, Orthodox music continues to bring together people of various cultures and religious denominations.
“It is a sung prayer, an event whose spirituality, artistic merits and the universal character of its programming has attracted over 900 choirs from 44 countries down the years,” Buszko said.
Mikołaj Buszko. Photo: PAP/Artur Reszko
The history of the International Festival of Orthodox Music goes back to the early 1980s. It was initially held in the town of Hajnówka, one of the centres of Orthodox faith in Poland, before moving several years ago to Białystok, a city some 55 km to the north that offers better performance venues.
This year's event includes a competition and ends on Sunday, September 25, with an awards ceremony and a concert of award-winning choirs.
According to the Orthodox Church, there are up to 500,000 Orthodox Christians in Poland, most of them living in the northeast of the country.