Introduction to the 2016/17 Gryphon brochure by Flemming E. Rasmussen
The cold was unbelievable, weighing me down like a heavy, frozen overcoat, the icy air almost burning my lungs.
The streets were deserted this early in the day, except for a small pack of stray dogs eyeing me with cautious curiosity from their spot on a heating vent.
It was February in Moscow and I had left the warm comfort and safety of my hotel room. Outside the room stood an armed guard with a Kalashnikov. It was 1989, interesting times in Russia. Nobody knew what to expect from behind the Iron Curtain.
I was commissioned by Infinity Systems to set up their IRS system for one of the earliest international hi-fi shows in Russia.
Feeling the pressure of high expectations, I gave up trying to sleep and set off on a walk through the empty streets.
As I came closer, the singing became clearer, easier to follow. I can no longer recall the many turns and side streets that finally led me to a small square with a Greek Orthodox church in the centre. The building was - like most of Moscow at the time, in an advanced state of decay, but the light and the singing inside drew me like a moth to a flame.
The room was dark, only a few old lamps hinted at the true size of the space. It was like a cathedral with a very high ceiling. I could see the outlines of perhaps 50 people on the sides with a priest in the middle, singing hymns that I did not recognize or understand the words. There were no instruments accompanying the singing.
It was clearly just the congregation singing, not a professional choir, but what filled the room were songs so heartfelt and expressive with love and nerve, perhaps expressing the Russian soul, that I was nailed to the floor in awe and emotion. The singing filled the room, floating suspended in space.
Only later did I start thinking about acoustics or sound quality. None of that mattered in the moment.
It was one of the most intense musical experiences that I had ever been part of, when it was over, it hit me even stronger. Here was a congregation of ordinary, elderly people, meeting to worship and sing their hearts out, not schooled in any way, with no musical support, and serious acoustic challenges, but it was so right that everything else was insignificant.
What lent the experience even more power was that from the very first note, heard from many streets and corners away, I knew that this was live.
Certainly no soundstage, stereo or high resolution, no real dynamics as we treasure so much in our world of artificial sound reproduction, but still, despite all this, I never had any doubt that this was real.
Standing so close to the nerve of live music made me realize just how far we still have to go with High End Audio. This has to be the destination, but the journey itself is wonderful, as we slowly move towards it.
We just have to bear in mind exactly what that final destination really is.
Flemming E. Rasmussen
CEO & Founder
Ry September 2016