Jelsa, the island of Hvar
The common forms of paraliturgical devotion on Croatian islands are various religious ceremonies - processions through the settlements. The most significant and frequent ceremonies are the Holy Week processions, especially Maundy Thursday and Good Friday processions . Numerous authors calculate about the origins and initiations of processions on the Croatian islands. Most common citation dated beginnings at the XV century and even earlier (Skunca 1981:68-69). A continuation and a long history of the custom, enrich the present procession singing with the traces of the ancient singing styles .The most impressive of all Dalmatian processions is Za krizen ("Following the Cross") on the island of Hvar. To be precise, it is group of processions, starting out simultaneously from six settlements (Jelsa, Pitve, Vrisnik, Svirce, Vrbanj and Vrboska) on the night between Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Followers of the processions, the members of local confraternities, are visiting churches and Bozji greb (Christ' grave) in the five remaining settlements . Processions all travel in the same direction, in a circle, through the night until the morning. Crosses lead all the processions; holding the cross represent a once in a lifetime honor. The cross bearer, in agreement with batistrada (the head of confraternity) has the privilege of selecting assistants from among the members of confraternities. The rest of the members hold candles and lights during the night (ferali, torci, kandeliri). The singing marks the whole procession. The most crucial singing, in the manner of a dialogue, involves two lead singers and two response singers - kantaduri. On different locations, mainly churches (stacije), kantaduri sing the most archaic version of Gospin plac (Our Lady Weeping) . In each stacija the leading kantaduri have to sing two or three octosyllabic verses (strofa) as well as the response kantaduri. The aim of the singing is harmonizing in perfect unison by matching the vocal timbres. The matching of the voices requires a special devotion to the tonal quality of the singing. I was fortunate to video taped the very first performance of the youngest leading kantaduri from Jelsa. The carefully coordinated tune from Jelsa sounds as only one performer is singing .
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