The Voice of Hagia Sophia

Documentary film, 24 minutes, 2018

All rights reserved. No part of this film may be used in any form or by any means without prior written permission from the copyright holder. To request permission please contact Bissera Pentcheva at

An acoustic and visual exploration of the 1500-year-old Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (Turkey), built by emperor Justinian in the sixth century and recognized as the largest domed interior in the Mediterranean before the Renaissance rebuilding of St. Peter’s. For centuries, resonant voice and bounded light worked together in this magnificent interior to evoke the divine. Today as a museum, the function of the space has changed and no singing is allowed inside. Stanford University’s interdisciplinary project “Icons of Sound” (2008-present), directed by Bissera Pentcheva (Art History) and Jonathan Abel (Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics) and in collaboration with the foremost choir for Byzantine chant in North America, Cappella Romana, have revived Hagia Sophia’s soundscape. Using digital technology, the team has successfully imprinted the acoustic signature of that space on live sound and produced two major concerts at Stanford’s Bing Hall. This documentary records the innovative research of “Icons of Sound” that bridges technology with humanities and shows how the insights gained have deepened our understanding of Hagia Sophia’s complex history. This is particularly exigent in the current moment when this UNESCO World Monument may be converted back into a mosque and the traces of its Christian legacy wiped out.

Duygu Eruçman – Director, Editor & Co-Producer
Duygu Eruçman is a documentary filmmaker from Izmir, Turkey. Her short documentaries have screened in many film festivals around the world. Duygu holds an MFA in Documentary Film and Video from Stanford University and a BA in Political Science and International Relations from Bogazici University in Istanbul, Turkey. Currently she works as a video producer in Washington D.C. You can learn more about her work at

Bissera V. Pentcheva, Co-Producer