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The Sacred Music of Adina Spire

On Christmas Day of 1989, while the rest of Romania was in the midst of a revolution that would overthrow four decades of Communist rule, Adina Spire was celebrating her 12th birthday with her family.

All of a sudden, five soldiers burst in. While Adina’s younger sister, Adriana, found refuge inside a cabinet, the rest of the family wasn’t so fortunate: Adina’s parents were murdered, and Adina was beaten, raped and left unconscious.

It’s a tragic story that nevertheless ends in beauty and hope.

As related by Stephen Klugewicz over at the Imaginative Conservative, when Adina woke from a coma three days later, she found herself, along with her sister, living in an orphanage run by Orthodox nuns. As Spire told Klugewicz, “life at the orphanage was very good for me.” In addition to caring for the Spire sisters, the nuns taught the girls music.

While at the orphanage, Adina Spire became interested in sacred music. She “would often sneak out of her room and make her way to nearby monasteries to listen to the chant of the monks.” What she heard not only enchanted her, it stuck with her and shaped the direction of her musical career.

After studying at a conservatory in Switzerland, Adina founded the Bezdin Ensemble, named after the orphanage Spire grew up in, which specializes in sacred music. Now based in Nizhny Novgorod, on the Volga River in Russia, the ensemble includes a chamber orchestra, choir and vocalists. Fittingly, both the choir and orchestra include young women who also grew up in the Bezdin orphanage.

In addition to sacred music and orchestral pieces by the likes of Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart and Beethoven, the ensemble performs works composed by Spire herself.

The album “Tatal Nostru,” Romanian for “Our Father,” consists of “famous traditional liturgical songs” arranged for strings and choral ensemble. The album “Hymns,” depicts a musical journey culminating in the ancient Trisagion hymn with its plea “Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.”

In its use of ancient hymns and distinctly Christian themes, Spire’s music is reminiscent of the work of contemporary composers like Arvo Part—her musical inspiration—and the late John Tavener. They and she have helped give the contemporary classic music scene an unmistakable Christian presence.

Another thing setting Spire and the Ensemble apart is the insistence that beautiful music is meant for everyone, not just the well-off. The Bezdin Ensemble’s “recordings are available for download either free of charge or cheaply on various websites.”

She told the Imaginative Conservative that “My vision is to produce high quality classical music, not consumable goods.”

That’s because she doesn’t define success in monetary terms. Instead, “success in music for [her] is to enrich the soul of people.”

None of this is what the men who raped Spire and murdered her parents had in mind that Christmas night in 1989. She and her sister not only survived, they’ve dedicated their lives to ensuring that, as the Imaginative Conservative put it, “beauty remains.”

Not just any beauty, but beauty grounded in faith, like the faith of the nuns who not only cared for the Spires physical needs but their spiritual and emotional needs, as well. That’s probably why Spire can say “Today actually I fully forgive the people that committed such an atrocity. It opened my eyes to reality.”

That reality is defined by the Babe who shares her birthday.

BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at where you can read and search answers to common questions.

Eric Metaxas is a co-host of BreakPoint Radio and a best-selling author whose biographies, children's books, and popular apologetics have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

Publication date: December 23, 2013

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