ASBM Seminar held in Wilmington, North Carolina

On Sunday, July 31st, Georgios Theodoridis, Director of the Archdiocesan School of Byzantine Music, offered a brief seminar at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Mr. Theodoridis spoke about the Psaltic Art and the educational program of the Archdiocesan School of Byzantine Music. He provided information about the mission and vision of the school as well as future projects and initiatives.

During the seminar, Mr. Theodoridis recognized six parishioners of St. Nicholas who are current students of the ASBM. These six students serve their parish’s Music Ministry as choir members.

The Music Ministry at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church is led by Michael Rallis, also a current student of the ASBM, who received his Certificate in Byzantine Chant from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in May 2022.

Mr. Theodoridis also accepted the invitation to conduct the local choir during the divine services that day. This provided an additional opportunity for the students to apply what they have learned in the context of a live service.

The Archdiocesan School of Byzantine Music would like to thank Fr. Steven Klund, Proistamenos of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Wilmington, North Carolina, for his warm hospitality and collaboration.

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Fall Registration open now through August 31st

The Archdiocesan School of Byzantine Music is delighted to announce the opening of registration for the Fall Term 2022.  Registration is open now until August 31st.  Classes are scheduled to begin the week of September 4th and end the week of November 20th.

Please click the link to register

The Archdiocesan School of Byzantine Music offers classes in the context of three terms:  Spring, Summer, and Fall.  Each term is scheduled for 12 weeks in duration. Prospective students may apply during the registration period.

Since reopening the school in 2022, there has been a significant increase in student enrollment, expansion of qualified faculty, and a robust demand throughout the United States for the opportunity to learn the traditional ecclesiastical music of the Orthodox Church.

The Archdiocesan School of Byzantine Music aims to educate and develop competent cantors in the Psaltic Art.  It uses a virtual learning platform that improves access to high-quality education in the Psaltic Art to students throughout the United States.

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Archdiocesan Byzantine Choir performs Centennial Concert at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Archdiocesan Byzantine Choir was honored to perform at the Centennial Reception of the 46th Biennial Clergy-Laity Congress in New York.  The event was held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and was also part of the Centennial Celebration of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

This unique concert was the result of extensive collaboration between the Archdiocesan Byzantine Choir and the National Forum of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians. The conductors of each choir worked together to develop a music program that would showcase the repertoire of each choir individually.  For the finale, the choirs were combined to perform The Great Doxology (Grave Mode enharmonic) and The Great Prokeimenon (Grave Mode enharmonic).

The concert was introduced by the Rev. Fr. Romanos Karanos, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Byzantine Liturgical Music at Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, MA. Fr. Romanos provided a brief overview of Ecclesiastical Music in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America over its 100-year history and noted that the Ecclesiastical Music of today has its origins dating back to the first millennium.

At the conclusion of the program, His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros recognized Georgios Theodoridis, Conductor of the Archdiocesan Byzantine Choir, as a “Centennial Honoree” for his tireless work as the Director of the Archdiocesan School of Byzantine Music and his devotion to the Psaltic Art.

The pieces performed by the Archdiocesan Byzantine Choir are listed below:

  1. Gladsome Light, Mode 2nd
  2. I Will Come Into Your House, Mode pl. 4th
  3. Prokeimenon on Wednesdays, Mode pl. 1st
  4. A Good Word with kratema, Mode 4th aghia
  5. It is Truly Right, Constantinopolitan, Mode pl. 1st
  6. I Will Love You, O Lord, Mode 2nd
  7. I Will Bless the Lord with kratema, Mode pl. 1st
  8. Lord, Have Mercy, “Pentaehon” (in five Modes)

The Archdiocesan Byzantine Choir would like to acknowledge and thank its participants from the Centennial Concert (roster listed below). The choir was directed by Georgios Theodoridis, Archon Music Instructor of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and Director of the Archdiocesan School of Byzantine Music.

Archdiocesan Byzantine Choir Roster for the Centennial Concert, “From Byzantium to America”:

Nektarios Antoniou, Protopsaltis

Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, New York, NY

John Brakatselos, Psaltis

Church of the Holy Resurrection, Brookville, NY

Theodore Brakatselos, Psaltis

Church of the Holy Resurrection, Brookville NY

Philip Carallo, Protopsaltis

St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Tarpon Springs, FL

Ian Chambers, Psaltis

Greek Orthodox Church of Our Savior, Rye, NY

Yianni Cote, Psaltis

St. Basil Chapel, Garrison, NY

Antonios Gementzopoulos, Psaltis

St. Theodore Greek Orthodox Church, Lanham, MD

Nick Giannoukakis, Protopsaltis

Metropolis of Pittsburg

Philippos Gurguliatos, Psaltis

Annunciation Cathedral, Boston, MA

Rick Hanson, Psaltis

Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, Fort Wayne, IN

Samuel Herron, Protopsaltis & Choir Director

Assumption Greek Orthodox Church, Scottsdale, AZ

Elias Hilaneh, Psaltis

St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, Tuscon, AZ

Isaac Hilaneh, Psaltis

St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, Tuscon, AZ

Rev. Fr. Andreas Houpos, Proistamenos

St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Church, Charlotte, NC

Rev. Fr. Romanos Karanos, Proistamenos

Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, Brockton, MA

Vasileios Karanos, Psaltis

Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, Brockton, MA

Dimitrios Katsiklis, Protopsaltis

St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church & National Shrine, New York, NY

Elias Katsiklis, Psaltis

St.Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church & National Shrine, New York, NY

Rev. Fr. Theofanis Katsiklils, Assistant Priest

St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Tarpon Springs, FL

Constantine Kokenes, Psaltis

St. Philothea Greek Orthodox Church, Watkinsville, GA

Yianni Mavrogiannis, Psaltis

Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Paul, Hempstead, NY

Spyros Perivolaris, Lampadarios

St. Constantine Greek Orthodox Church, Kolonos, Athens, Greece

George Rallis, Protopsaltis & Choir Director

Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, Asheville, NC

Michael Rallis, Protopsaltis & Choir Director

St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Wilmington NC

Nicholas Roumas, Psaltis

Sts. Anargyroi Greek Orthodox Church, Marlboro, MA

Rev. Fr. Neofitos Sarigiannis, Proistamenos

St. George Greek Orthodox Church, Schenectady, NY

Michael Sellas, Psaltis

Holy Apostles Orthodox Church, Bowling Green, KY

Aris Spirtos, Protopsaltis

Saints Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church of Washington DC, Silver Spring, MD

Christos Stavropoulos, Protopsaltis

Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, New York, NY

Georgios Theodoridis, Protopsaltis & Choir Director

Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Washington, DC

James Tsimis, Psaltis

Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Paul, Hempstead, NY

Ioannis Tziligkakis, Psaltis

Saint John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church, New York, NY

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Archdiocesan Byzantine Choir chants at historic and emotional Consecration Service of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church & National Shrine at the World Trade Center

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Archdiocesan Byzantine Choir chants at Consecration Service of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church & National Shrine at the World Trade Center

Last week the Archdiocesan Byzantine Choir was honored to assemble at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church & National Shrine at the World Trade Center to chant Great Vespers of the Consecration on July 3rd and the Consecration Service on July 4th. The choir chanted the services in both Greek and English. The services drew over 1,300 participants to the World Trade Center and were broadcasted internationally as well.

For more information about this historic occasion, please visit: https://stnicholaswtc.org/

The Archdiocesan Byzantine Choir would like to acknowledge and thank its participants from this historic occasion (roster listed below). The choir was directed by Georgios Theodoridis, Archon Music Instructor of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and Director of the Archdiocesan School of Byzantine Music.

Archdiocesan Byzantine Choir Roster for the Consecration of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church & National Shrine at the World Trade Center:

Nektarios Antoniou, Protopsaltis
Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, New York, NY

Nick Giannoukakis, Protopsaltis
Metropolis of Pittsburg

Samuel Herron, Protopsaltis & Choir Director
Assumption Greek Orthodox Church, Scottsdale, AZ

Dimitris Katsiklis, Protopsaltis
St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church & National Shrine, New York, NY

Elias Katsiklis, Psaltis
St.Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church & National Shrine, New York, NY

Rev. Fr. Theofanis Katsiklils, Second Priest
St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Tarpon Springs, FL

Dimitrios Kechagias, Protopsaltis
St. Anastasia Greek Orthodox Church, Kifissia, Thessaloniki, Greece

Yianni Mavrogiannis, Psaltis
Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Paul, Hempstead, NY

Spyros Perivolaris, Lampadarios
St. Constantine Greek Orthodox Church, Kolonos, Athens, Greece

Christos Stavropoulos, Protopsaltis
Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, New York, NY

Georgios Theodoridis, Protopsaltis & Choir Director
St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Washington, DC

Ioannis Tziligkakis, Psaltis
Saint John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church, New York, NY

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The Psaltis (Cantor)

Who is the Cantor?

Why do we need the cantor?
What is the cantor’s role?

I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing to my God as long as I exist.

Ps. 103:33

OF COURSE, YOU KNOW THE CANTOR!

The Cantor (“Psaltis”) is the person who stands at the Cantor’s Stand on Sundays at the Divine Liturgy and every other sacred service of your parish and performs the Hymns of our Church alone or with an ensemble of assistants. You can see the Cantor, or might remember the Cantor standing and chanting into deep old age until abandoned by limited physical strength. But how many of us know how much work and preparation, how many sacrifices and even disappointments lie behind a Cantor’s mission to the Church and to the faithful? The following are aimed at answering these, among many other, questions.

THE CANTOR IS NORMALLY A TONSURED LOWER CLERIC

Representing the prayers of the faithful, in hymn and music, is the chief role of the Cantor and it is, in fact, a formal ecclesiastic ministry. Thus, this ministry is a sacred office. In the Divine Liturgy everything has a spiritual and divine character. From ancient times, our Church elevated the Cantor to the Lower Ranks of the Clergy to bless and allow sacred ministry outside of the Holy Sanctuary. In this way the Cantor was separated from the clergy (Bishop, Priest, Deacon) whose ministry in ecclesiastic service is inside the Holy Sanctuary, but also from the rest of the congregation – the faithful lay people. The Cantor is a vehicle of the people’s prayer during divine services and as such connects the faithful with Divine Worship, collaborating with the Priest and expressing the fullness of the Church.

The sanctity of a Cantor’s ministry and service imposes the wearing of a black robe (“Rasso”) during the services.

As a member of the Lower Ranks of the clergy, a Cantor cannot formally serve without a specific blessing by a Bishop, referred to as a “cheirothesia”. Indeed, just like a priest is assigned to a church, so too (traditionally) is a Cantor formally assigned, with the acclamation “Axios” (Worthy!) given by the faithful in attendance.

Thus, not everyone has the right or the privilege to chant responsibly in our tradition except the person appointed and ordained by a Bishop. The same applies to other lesser Ranks of the clergy (Reader and Altar Servant).

A REPRESENTATIVE OF A LONGSTANDING RELIGIOUS TRADITION

The music and hymnology of our faith and Church grew and matured to unparalleled musical and hymnologic heights (even according to Western musical scholars) between the 5th – 18th century, with Constantinople as its epicenter and the entirety of Asia Minor and the Holy Lands in adjunctive influence. This music, evolving mainly during the time of the Byzantine Empire, thus received its name and became inextricably associated with the Eastern Orthodox hymnologic tradition. With roots in ancient Greek music, it eventually evolved independently and acquired it’s own ethos and style befitting the spiritual and prayerful character of our faith. Thus, Byzantine Music became, and still is, a central and defining feature and element of  Eastern Orthodox worship. This precious asset has been entrusted to the Cantor, who – following the traces of the Masters and Creators of this sacred art, leverages the treasure that is passed from teachers to bequeath it to the following generations.

THE GRADATIONS

Byzantine Hymns are traditionally chanted in a solo or choral manner and also antiphonically, i.e. the alternate or responsive singing by a choir in two divisions. Thus, two Choirs were consecrated from the very early days of Eastern Orthodox ecclesiastic practice. The one on the right side of the Soleas, as we face the Holy Sanctuary, is led by the Protopsaltis (The Prime Cantor) and the other on the opposite side is led by the Lampadarios. Assistant musicians – the Domestichoi – to the right and left of the Protopsaltis and the Lampadarios – complete the foundation of the two Choirs. The Domestichoi are often the top students/apprentices of the Protopsaltis and Lampadarios, exhibiting substantial knowledge and vocal talent to give a “wholesome” ensemble character to each of the two Choirs. The Domestichoi can also provide a continuous “drone” of the tonic and dominants of the melody in what is referred to as the “isokratima” (ison). Completing the two Choirs are the Readers and the Canonarchs who intone the hymns to follow. A traditional Byzantine Choir is not polyphonic but monophonic, which means that although there is a Choir, everybody is chanting in “one voice” except those assigned to perform the “isokratima”, which varies from hymn to hymn and to ensure that the pitch won’t shift but also that harmonies of thirds, fourths, fifths, and eighths are created, giving an ancient Hellenic character to the music.

INDOMITABLE ENTHUSIASM

Cantors chant from their heart and soul. Cantors suffer spiritually when they do not chant because their life has been inextricably tied to this ministry, music, and art. Even though this art is not an end in itself, it is a means, which facilitates the faithful with their communion with God. Together with the Hymnology, the music that “vests” the text directs the hearts and minds of the faithful to higher grounds. Both express divine emotions and spiritual experiences. Our ecclesiastical music being rich in qualitative characters relies on the Psaltis’ enthusiasm for conceptual interpretation of hymns. With this workpersonlike heartful involvement, the Psaltis becomes an unrivaled mystagogue. As our music is prayerful it presupposes entities with faith, reverence, and solemnity.

MUSICAL TRAINING

In its early years, the music of our Church was simple. We even assume that the whole congregation chanted together. Little by little, as the length and complexity of the services increased, the melodies to cover them became complicated and more difficult. No longer could anyone render the hymns. That created the need for people with specialized knowledge and experience. Hence, the ministry and title of “Psaltis” (Cantor) was established. In fact, it was a vocation. To assume this vocation though, enthusiasm and vocal abilities were not enough. Canons of Ecumenical Synods demanded qualifications for this ministry. The Psaltis needed to be highly trained musically. A multitude of composers and hymnographers bequeathed us colorful melodies and complex musical scores, that require skillful expressors and artistic interpreters. Slowly, Masters of Music emerged, disseminating this great art to their students and apprentices. Through that, the essence of Byzantine Music was preserved and is taught until today, almost unchanged. One cannot only learn Theory and History of Byzantine Music from a Master Cantor but also Praxis (performance) and Typikon (liturgical order and rubrics) as well as Hymnology and Intoning and Reading, namely everything that is useful to become a worthy successor of that great heritage.

THE CANTOR’S MINISTRY AND VOCATION

Many of us believe that a Psaltis is occupied only on Sundays at the Divine Liturgy, weddings, baptisms, and maybe on some Feast days like the Nativity of our Lord, Theophany, or Holy Week. Although that depends on one Parish’s worship schedule and sacramental activity, this is mostly not the case. It is not only during the Sunday attendance. It can be Vesper Services, Orthros Services, the Paraklesis, i.e. Supplicatory Services, the Salutations, the Lenten Liturgies, any major Feast day of our Lord Jesus Christ or of the Virgin Mary, a Saint’s Day celebration, and more. Besides the above we must explain that it is certainly not only the attendance but also regardless of a short or a long service, it is the preparation.

Especially for a Psaltis who also leads a Byzantine Choir, rehearsal, preparation of the new repertoire etc. is not a brief affair but rather a very time- and strength-consuming case. Here we must point out that many Cantors do not engage in this ministry exclusively. In other words, they do not have a full time position but have other professions or day jobs. The above mainly applies for full time Cantors dedicated directly, and only, to teach, prepare, conduct, and perform whenever needed and thus, their ministry is also a vocation.

THE FUTURE

Although many young people show interest in Byzantine Music today, only a few of them actually study and learn it. Additionally, few have received the substantial corpus of the entirety of Byzantine Chant tradition, to multiply the talent to the level of mastery. Oftentimes, and unfortunately, mediocrity passes for, and is promoted as expertise and knowledge. This could lead to the loss of our religious identity, creating a gap, even a chasm between us and our ancient old musical and theological traditions. Echoing rites and rubrics of foreign traditions or creating our own practices, sometimes for questionable reasons will keep us closer to the ground rather than lifting us up, to God. Finally, not everyone should or can be a Psaltis. It must first begin with spiritual cleanliness and appreciation of the tenets of our faith and the Apostolic and Patristic traditions, and then, access to a teacher universally-accepted by peers and the Church as a representative of chant tradition in line with that of the Mother Church (the Ecumenical Patriarchate).

A MODEST PROPOSAL

Our duty as Orthodox Christians is to support any initiative of our Church, especially concerning its ministries and outreach. Byzantine Music is the backbone of our Eastern Orthodox Rites and therefore at the apex of the most important “experiential” factors of our Liturgical Life. How can we support its growth? Here are some ideas:

  1. Holding several workshops annually, that bring together two or more Master Cantors from our Archdiocese, to offer either nominal “fundamentals” learning of Byzantine Chant to our communities, especially the younger people or to offer more specialized training to community Cantors – and even our clergy!  
  2. Establishing a group or an association of “Friends of Byzantine Music” in every parish. Those clubs could help fund the creation and maintenance of a Byzantine Choir trained by a Master Cantor.
  3. Encouraging young people and their family, especially those with vocal skills and musical knowledge, to listen to and even learn Byzantine Music and to participate in everything associated with this at the parish level (e.g. go to the Analogion, listen, and watch the Psaltis during Vespers and Orthros).
  4. Nurture a return to tradition and the ecclesiastic archetype in terms of restoring hymns that are omitted for the sake of “time” and “speed”. The hierarchs and the priests will have an important responsibility to educate parish councils and the faithful about “why” our tradition is the way it is.

Our desire should be the continuation of our tradition, the multiplication of the talents given to our Master Cantors, and the staffing of our Cantors’ Stands (Analogion), so the majestic and glorious ecclesiastical melody, which many converts quote as the reason for coming into Orthodoxy and which many Western scholars are now fervently researching, can survive.

Our faith is a collective endeavor. Everybody can participate, with joy and with the objective of creating an earthly taste of Paradise inside their church…

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The Archdiocesan School of Byzantine Music scheduled to re-open under new Director with new offerings.

The Archdiocesan School of Byzantine Music scheduled to re-open under new Director with new offerings. Online registration opens November 29, 2021. Classes to begin January 3, 2022. Space is limited.

The Archdiocesan School of Byzantine Music is scheduled to re-open under new direction and with new offerings. Throughout its history, the school has primarily taught classes in-person to students residing in the New York area. With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the school has been forced to reimagine its methods and offerings. The ASBM will now offer online learning, in small group classes which will be instructed by expert cantors who hold either a certificate or diploma in Byzantine Chant or advanced degree in Byzantine Musicology. Through the use of technology, the ASBM will be accessible to everyone with a computer and internet access.

For more information about the program, please click here.

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Patriarchal Divine Liturgy and Investiture of Archons held in New York, NY showcases bi-lingual byzantine chant in traditional melodies

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On October 31, 2021, His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew celebrated the Patriarchal Divine Liturgy at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in New York.

The music was selected and arranged by Georgios Theodoridis, Archon Music Instructor of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and Director of the Archdiocesan School of Byzantine Music.

Selected cantors from throughout the Archdiocese formed two choirs and chanted the services antiphonally, the Right choir chanting primarily in Greek and the Left choir chanting primarily in English.

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Archdiocesan Byzantine Choir featured at academic convocation of His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew at the University of Notre Dame

Source

On October 28, 2021, the Archdiocesan Byzantine Choir performed at the academic convocation of His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew at the University of Notre Dame. The choir, under the direction of Georgios Theodoridis, performed a program of Byzantine Chant, “Creation: From Adam to Salvation,” in both Greek and English.

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Archdiocesan Byzantine Choir to Perform at name day of Archbishop Elpidophoros of America

On November 2, 2019 at the Archdiocesan Cathedral in New York City (319 E. 74th Street NY, NY) members of the Archdiocesan Byzantine Music will chant at the first name day celebration of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America. This is his eminence’s first name day celebration as Archbishop of America. A reception will follow in the Chiotis Hall and an opportunity to personally greet his eminence will be afforded to the faithful.

For information call 212-288-3215.

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