Mar 11, 2014

Tradition Comes Alive at the Boston Byzantine Music Festival

En Chordais performing at the Boston Byzantine Music Festival. Photo © Tzetzis Photography

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On February 24 and February 25, 2014, the Mary Jaharis Center with the New York Life Center for the Study of Hellenism in Pontus and Asia Minor presented the Boston Byzantine Music Festival at the Maliotis Cultural Center on the Hellenic College Holy Cross campus in Brookline, MA. Audiences were treated to a pair of lectures exploring the Byzantine musical tradition and two concerts that brought that tradition to life.

The festival began with a talk by Dr. Emmanouil Giannopoulos. His lecture, “Orthodox Liturgical Music’s Breeze Blows Over the Aegean,” looked at the important role the churches and monasteries of the Aegean Islands played in the preservation of Byzantine music. Dr. Giannopoulos was accompanied by the Holy Cross St. Romanos the Melodist Byzantine Choir, who performed pieces illustrating elements of his presentation. In one of the highlights of the evening, the choir sang As the disciples were hastening to the mountain (first mode), First Eothinon Doxastikon for Sunday Orthros, composed by Theodosios of Chios, which Dr. Giannopoulos transcribed into modern notation for the evening so that the audience could hear a piece of music that had gone unheard for centuries. The Archdiocesan Byzantine Choir of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America took the stage for the second half of the evening’s program in a concert featuring selections from the Lenten hymnology of the Orthodox Church.

Dr. Kyriakos Kalaitzidis opened the second day of the festival with his afternoon lecture, “The Relationship of the Byzantine Musical Heritage with Eastern Mediterranean Musical Traditions.” Dr. Kalaitzidis outlined the many points of contact between Byzantine music and neighboring traditions. That evening, he led the internationally renowned ensemble En Chordais in a concert dedicated to the secular traditions of Byzantine and post-Byzantine music. The concert included Art Music of the Ottoman court, traditional Greek songs, Phanariot songs, and contemporary compositions by members of En Chordais. The Holy Cross St. Romanos the Melodist Byzantine Choir accompanied En Chordais on several songs.

For a complete program, click here.