September 17, 2019

Joseph J Palackal

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JOSEPH J PALACKAL

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JOSEPH J PALACKAL

Joseph J Palackal

Joseph J. Palackal (b. at Pallippuram, near Cherthala in Alappuzha, Kerala) is an Indic musicologist, singer and composer, with special interests in the musical traditions of the Indian Christians. He is also the Founder-President of the Christian Musicological Society of India. Joseph Palackal wrote a doctoral thesis in ethnomusicology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York in 2005 on Syriac (Aramaic) chant traditions in South India, studying on the one hand the contemporary practice of model melodies of the East-Syriac/Chaldean rite of the Syro-Malabar Church, and, on the other hand, the oktoechos of the West-Syriac/Antiochene rite of the Oriental Orthodox Churches of South India.
As part of this doctoral work, Palackal brought out a CD, Qambel Maran, a collection of Syriac chants in the Chaldean tradition of the Syro-Malabar Church; it includes the hymn Awun d’wasmayya, i.e., the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic, arguably in the same words which were used by Jesus when he taught the Pater Noster, compositions by St. Ephrem the Syrian (notably the acrostic hymn Iso maaran m’siha on the name Iso M’siha, i.e., Jesus the Messiah), and the Syriac translation Sabbah lesan of the Latin hymn Pange Lingua by St. Thomas Aquinas; these chants had up to then been preserved in the main only in oral tradition; among the singers is Fr. Abel Periyappuram, the founder of the Kalabhavan and the key in the transition of the Syro-Malabar liturgy from Syriac (Aramaic) to Malayalam.

Palackal published several research papers on music in English and Malayalam. As a consequence, he was invited to write articles on Indian Christian music in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians and in the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music; neither encyclopaedia had dealt with the topic before. Palackal is the lead vocalist for about 30 works in Malayalam, Hindi, Sanskrit, English, and Aramaic (Syriac). He brought out in 1979 an LP record, Christian Bhajans, as part of an experiment under the aegis of Mar Cardinal Joseph Parecattil to devise a liturgy founded on the Indian musical tradition. Another work is a semi-classical rendering of the Sanskrit poem Kristhusahasranaamam [The Thousand Names of Christ] by the engineer and philologist I. C. Chacko, Illiparambil. He made his New York debut in 1990 with a guest appearance singing a Christian devotional song in Hindi in the off-Broadway show Nunsense; later performance venues include Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and Princeton University.

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