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.

Read more...

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

Read more...

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

choir_photo
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

Read more...

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…

Read more...

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.

Read more...

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

Source

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.

Read more...

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.

Read more...

Archdiocesan Byzantine Choir to Perform Historic Concert in Constantinople 2013

[pl_tabs][pl_tabtitlesection type=”tabs”][pl_tabtitle active=”yes” number=”1″]The Concert[/pl_tabtitle][pl_tabtitle number=”2″]Ecumenical Patriarchate[/pl_tabtitle][pl_tabtitle number=”3″]Hagia Irini[/pl_tabtitle][pl_tabtitle number=”4″] Our Choir[/pl_tabtitle][pl_tabtitle number=”5″]Sponsorship[/pl_tabtitle][/pl_tabtitlesection]
[pl_tabcontentsection][pl_tabcontent active=”yes” number=”1″]Archdiocesan Byzantine Choir June 16, 2013

About our Concert

All Photos by D. Panagos

The Archdiocesan Byzantine Choir of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America is preparing for their upcoming historic visit and performance in Constantinople on the occasion of the Great Feast of St. Andrew, the First-Called Apostle. This  is the feast day of our beloved Ecumenical Patriarchate and so hierarchs from throughout the world will be in attendance to celebrate on this most auspicious day. At the invitation of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and with the blessing of Archbishop Demetrios of America, the Archdiocesan Byzantine Choir will perform in the ancient church of Hagia Irini which not only stands directly behind the Great Church of Hagia Sophia but was the site of the 2nd Ecumenical Council in 381AD.

It is our hope that you will take the time to explore this page and support the Archdiocesan Byzantine Choir in making its dream to travel to Constantinople a reality.

Wishing you abundant blessings from God during this New Ecclesiastical Year, I remain

Prayerfully yours in Christ,

Archdeacon Panteleimon Papadopoulos
Director, Archdiocesan School of Byzantine Music

[/pl_tabcontent]

[pl_tabcontent number=”2″]
About the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople

8358592360_79c5c227dd

The Ecumenical Patriarchate is the highest see and holiest center of the Orthodox Christian Church throughout the world. It is an institution with a history spanning seventeen centuries, during which it retained its see in Constantinople (present-day Istanbul). It constitutes the center of all the local Orthodox Churches, heading these not by administration but by virtue of its primacy in the ministry of pan-Orthodox unity and the coordination of the activity of the whole of Orthodoxy.

The function of the Ecumenical Patriarchate as center par excellence of the life of the entire Orthodox world emanates from its centuries-old ministry in the witness, protection and outreach of the Orthodox faith. The Ecumenical Patriarchate therefore possesses a supra-national and supra-regional character. From this lofty consciousness and responsibility for the people of Christ, regardless of race and language, were born the new regional Churches of the East, from the Caspian to the Baltic, and from the Balkans to Central Europe. This activity today extends to the Far East, to America and Australia.

Orthodox Christians on all continents, which do not fall under the jurisdiction of the autocephalous (independent) or autonomous (semi-independent) Churches, fall under the direct jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The most important of the autocephalous Churches are the ancient Patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem (together with the ancient Archdiocese of Mt. Sinai), the Patriarchates of Russia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria and Georgia, as well as the Churches of Cyprus, Greece, Poland, Albania, and the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia. The Autonomous Churches include those of Finland and of Estonia. Consequently, the Orthodox Churches in Europe, America, Australia and Britain, which are not under the jurisdiction of the aforementioned autocephalous Churches, lie within the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. All Orthodox feel that they are constituents of one essentially spiritual community, wherein “when one member suffers, so do all.” It is a true sense of unity in diversity.

For more information about the Ecumenical Patriarchate click here.

[/pl_tabcontent]

[pl_tabcontent number=”3″]

About Hagia Irini

Saint Irini

Naming

The church was dedicated by Constantine to the peace of God, and is one of the three shrines which the Emperor devoted to God’s attributes, together with Hagia Sophia (Wisdom) and Hagia Dynamis (Force). It is also one of the Byzantine Churches that has never been converted into a mosque.

 Church

The building reputedly stands on the site of a pre-Christian temple. It ranks, in fact, as the first church built in Constantinople. Roman emperor Constantine I commissioned the first Hagia Irene church in the 4th century. From May to July 381 the First Council of Constantinople took place in the church. It was burned down during the Nika revolt in 532. Emperor Justinian I had the church restored in 548. It served as the church of the Patriarchate before Hagia Sophia was completed in 360.

Heavily damaged by an earthquake in the 8th century, it dates in its present form largely from the repairs made at that time. The Emperor Constantine V ordered the restorations and had its interior decorated with mosaics and frescoes. Hagia Irene is the only example of a Byzantine church in the city which retains its original atrium. A great cross in the half-dome above the main narthex, where the image of the Pantocrator or Theotokos was usually placed in Byzantine tradition, is a unique vestige of the Iconoclastic art; presumably it replaced earlier decoration. The church was enlarged during the 11th and 12th centuries.

The church measures 100 m × 32 m. It has the typical form of a Roman basilica, consisting of a nave and two aisles, divided by columns and pillars. It comprises a main space, a narthex, galleries and an atrium. The dome is 15m wide and 35m high and has twenty windows.

Arsenal

After the conquest of Constantinople in 1453 by Mehmed II, the church was enclosed inside the walls of the Topkapi palace. The Janissaries used the church as an armoury. It was also used as a warehouse for war booty. During the reign of Sultan Ahmet III (1703–1730) it was converted into a weapons museum.

In 1846, Marshal of the Imperial Arsenal, Ahmed Fethi Paşa, made the church into a military antiques museum.[3] It was used as the Military Museum from 1908 until 1978 when it was turned over to the Ministry of Culture.

 Concert Hall

Today, the museum serves mainly as a concert hall for classical music performances, due to its extraordinary acoustic characteristics and impressive atmosphere.

Hagia_Eirene_Constantinople_2007

[/pl_tabcontent]

[pl_tabcontent number=”4″]

Our Choir

The Archdiocesan Byzantine Choir

Shortly after the formation of the Archdiocesan School of Music in October 2010, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America expressed a desire for the formation of a choir to promote the rich Byzantine musical heritage of the Orthodox Church. The Archbishop’s vision became a reality under the leadership and organiation of Archdeacon Panteleimon Papadopoulos who observed the musical talent of chanters in the Direct Archdiocesan District and established the Archdiocesan Byzantine Choir in December 2010 as a ministry of the Archdiocese.

The talented members of the choir consist of Greek American clergy and young men whose ages range from 16 to 40. The majority of the choir members are established head-chanters (protopsaltis) in churches from within the Direct Archdiocesan District. All members of the choir have had formal training in Byzantine Music while some have even received advanced degrees in Byzantine Music from conservatories in Athens and Thessaloniki.

may19concert

The choir enjoys a broad programmatic reputation and ecclesiastical repertoire with performances in various venues such as universities, churches and recital halls of NYC. Its primary mission is to share the beauty of Byzantine Music beyond the borders of Orthodox Churches and reveal the spiritual depth of this ancient form of ecclesiastical chant.

Since its inception, the choir has been directed by Demetrios Kehagias. Born in Queens NY, Mr. Kehagias began studying Byzantine Music at the age of 14 under the tutelage of Archon Protopsaltis of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Mr. Nikolaos Steliaros. Among his top students in musical theory and application, Mr. Kehagias advanced swiftly and, at age 20, obtained the Certificate of Chant with highest distinction from the National Conservatory of Athens.

Thereafter, Mr. Kehagias was appointed Protopsaltis at St. Demetrios Cathedral of Astoria, NY, the largest Greek community outside of Greece, where he served for 10 years. In 2009, he received the advanced degree of Byzantine Music Teaching (Diploma Mousikodidaskalou) with highest distinction from the National Conservatory of Athens.  Mr. Kehagias also has a firm knowledge of western music, having studied jazz and composition at Long Island University in Brooklyn, NY.

Members of the Archdiocesan Byzantine and Youth Choirs with Archbishop Demetrios of America following their performance at Carnegie Hall in December 2012.

Members of the Archdiocesan Byzantine and Youth Choirs with Archbishop Demetrios of America following their performance at Carnegie Hall in December 2012.

In October 2010, Archbishop Demetrios of America appointed Mr. Kehagias first instructor for the newly established Archdiocesan School of Byzantine Music. He currently serves as Protopsaltis at the Kimisis Theotokou Greek Orthodox Church, Brooklyn, NY. His dedication to teaching Byzantine Music and his vision to find creative ways to share Byzantine Music to the general public have led this choir to a level of excellence demonstrated by their concerts and in the presentation of the choir as seasoned performers.

The choir has grown significantly in reputation, becoming a premier Byzantine Music choir in the New York Metropolitan area as well as among Greek American communities. The choir’s goals are to provide a positive social setting based on the Orthodox Faith, to help the members of the choir achieve excellence in musical performance and to provide them with the rewards of participation in the choral arts. Committed to musical excellence, the choir gives talented young chanters the opportunity to share the treasure of Byzantine Music with all people.

The Choir’s dedication to musical excellence and broad range of musical presentation has resulted in unique concerts even though it has only been in existence for less than a year. The following are some of the choir’s special performances:

2010 December Debut performance at Fairfield University as part of a lecture series on Orthodox Theology.

2011 January Annual Three Hierarchs Greek Letters Celebration organized by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, NYC.

2011 April Invited by the Consul General of Greece in New York, H.E. Agi Balta, to chant for the inauguration of an exhibition of paintings by George Lelekopoulos on the Passion and Resurrection of Christ.

2011 May First Paschal Concert entitled “Arise, O Lord” at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, NYC.

2011 September Performed as part of an inter-religious call to prayer for a special commemoration on the 10th Anniversary of September 11th organized by St. John the Divine Cathedral in NYC.

2011 October First Washington OXI Day Foundation Doxology in commemoration of October 28th, 1941, at St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Washington DC.

2011 December Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. Concert entitled “ASMA KAINON (A New Song): Chant of the Greek Orthodox Church.”

2012 January Annual Three Hierarchs Greek Letters Celebration organized by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America at the Onassis Center USA in mid-town New York.

2012 March Invited to perform at the 100 year anniversary celebration from the establishment of the Panchiaki “Korais” Society of New York in St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church Flushing, NY.

2012 March Invited to perform two mini-concerts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the Byzantium and Islam Family Day celebrations.

2012 June Concert hosted at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity entitled, “We Have Seen the Light.”

2012 September Invited to perform with the St. Romanos Choir of the Archdiocese of Beirut in St. Nicholas Cathedral in Brooklyn, NY.

2012 December Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall. Concert entitled, “Glory in the Highest.”

2013 May Concert in honor of Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens and All Greece entitled, “He is Risen!” at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, NYC.

All photos by D. Panagos. [/pl_tabcontent]

[pl_tabcontent number=”5″][gravityform id=”6″ name=”Trip to Constantinople 2013″][/pl_tabcontent][/pl_tabcontentsection][/pl_tabs]

Read more...