Voices From The Merry Cemetery

Composed Shaun Davey


  1. The song of Stan Ioan Patrăş
  2. The song of Stan Ileana (In my arms I held her)
  3. The song of Dimitru Holdiş
  4. The song of George Lupatoc
  5. The song of the Drowned Boy
  6. The song of Ilie Persil
  7. The song of Tărăşan Ioana
  8. The song of Stan Mihai Pătraş
  9. Song to the Mother-in-law
  10. The song of Pop Ileana
  11. The song of Toaderu lui Petrenjel
  12. The song of Stan Anuţa Deloae
  13. Vănturile, Valurile (O Wind and Waves)

Sleeve Notes

‘Voices from the Merry Cemetery’ was recorded on tour in Romania, at the Sibiu International Theatre Festival and The Long Road to Sapanta Festival, a collaboration between an Irish singer, an Irish uilleann piper, musicians and conductor, and a Romanian men's choir and orchestra. The music, by Irish composer Shaun Davey (The Brendan Voyage), incorporates epitaph poems from the colourful wooden crosses in the Merry Cemetery, Sapanta, Maramures. View Song lyrics
Performed by the Mens’ Choir of the Theology Faculty, Sibiu University, Romania, directed by Pr. Dr. Sorin Dobre, with musicians of the State Philharmonia, Sibiu, concertmaster and solo violin Cosmin Fidiles, conducted by David Brophy, soloists Rita Connolly (vocal), Liam O’Flynn (uilleann pipes and whistle), Rod McVey (organ and keyboard), Ursula Phillipii (organ), Neil Martin (cello), Noel Eccles (percussion), Gerry O’Beirne (guitar), Members of the mixed choir of Sibiu Orthodox Cathedral appear on track 13.

The CD was recorded and mixed by Brian Masterson, concert sound by Tom Brandus assisted by Adrian Tabacaru, Antonia Ecaterinescu and Daniel Gheorghita, production assistant and translation, Ioana Nistorescu. Arranged and produced by Shaun Davey.

Special thanks; Michaela Ionescu, John Fairleigh, Constantin Chiriac, Christine Sisk, Ion Caramitru, Petruta Popescu, Ursula Philipi, Pr. Grigore Lutsai, Peter and Mihaela Hurley. The lyrics of Vanturile, Valurile are based on the poem 'Dintre Sute de Catarge' by Mihai Eminescu (1850-1889) in which turbulent winds and seas represent forces of destiny.

The Recordings

The songs on this album were recorded during two separate visits to Romania. Firstly, at the concert in the Evangelical Cathedral, Sibiu, Transylvania in 2009; the last track is the encore from that concert ('Vanturile, Valurile'). Secondly, during rehearsals for the Merry Cemetery concert in the Reformat Church, Sighetu, Maramures in 2010. In Sighetu a specially-built stage was flown over the church pews in order to provide floor space for the Men’s Choir (40+ singers), orchestra (13 strings and 2 trumpets), percussion, soloists and frontline.

The Premiere In Sibiu
‘Voices from the Merry Cemetery’ was conceived by Irish composer Shaun Davey as a collaboration between Irish and Romanian musicians, an idea proposed by the Ireland Romania Cultural Foundation. The songs are in Romanian, based on epitaphs from the Merry Cemetery, composed for the Men’s Choir of the Theology Faculty, Sibiu, directed by Pr. Dr. Sorin Dobre, with Irish soloists Liam O’Flynn (uilleann pipes and whistle) and Rita Connolly (vocal). At the first performance in the Evangelical Cathedral, Sibiu,
Transylvania, in June 2009, they were joined by musicians from the Sibiu State Philharmonic led by concertmaster Cosmin Fidiles (solo violin), organist Ursula Phillipi, Noel Eccles (percussion), Gerry O’Beirne (guitar), the Sibiu Orthodox Cathedral choir and the actor Ion Caramitru. The premiere was conducted by David Brophy, and hosted by the Sibiu International Theatre Festival with support from Culture Ireland.

The Long Road To Sapanta
‘Voices from the Merry Cemetery’ was the centerpiece of ‘The Long Road to Sapanta Festival’, organized by Peter and Mihaela Hurley in August 2010. The concert took place in the Merry Cemetery itself. Once again, the Irish musicians travelled to work with Fr Dobre’s choir and musicians from the Sibiu State Philharmonic, on a specially constructed stage amidst the hundreds of carved wooden crosses. As darkness fell, led by parish priest Fr Grigore Lutsai, the women of the Sapanta congregation sang in procession to the stage. A perfect conclusion to the journey of a piece of music, at the heart of the community which had inspired it.

The Merry Cemetery
The Merry Cemetery is in Sapanta, Maramures, northern Romania, on the border with Ukraine. It is a World Heritage site, famous for its tradition of brightly painted, carved wooden crosses, a tradition started by Stan Ioan Patras (d.1977) and continued by Dumitru Pop and present day craftsmen. The base of each cross is decorated with a painted bas-relief and poem describing the life of the departed, some full of pathos, others light-hearted, occasionally comic. Selected epitaphs provide the lyrics of the songs in ‘Voices from the Merry Cemetery.