National Forum of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians

domesticus

Lupus non curat numerum ovium
#1
From a Mr Giannoukakis post here I 've learned about the existence of the National Forum of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians.
(from their site)
the Archdiocesan ministry responsible for liturgical music activities and the development, support, and recognition of church musicians. Chartered in 1976 as an official auxiliary of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, the National Forum serves as the liaison among local church musicians, metropolis church music federations, and the Archdiocese. It also serves as the gathering place for church musicians to discuss issues related to liturgical music and to formulate needed responses.
Visiting the site, in the Publications section I found out a list named Organist Resources with various books about the use of organ during the service !!!! And this is OFFICIAL and under the blessing of the Archdiocese!!!:eek::eek::eek:

I was astonished and finally I found the explanation for the sad performance in the Liturgy during the visit of Archbishop Ieronimos in New York today. It was frustrating, the clergy inside the sanctuary chanting traditionally the Trisagion as we know in a crystal clear second mode and the mixed coir outside performed with the accompaniament of an organ:eek: ... dressed in red costumes:eek:

Also, there were two or three chanters (?) next to the sanctuary (I recognized them because they were standing in front of an analogion and wearing traditional black raso), but I didn't understand their significance.

Also I observed that everyone with a task they were wearing black raso, but the choir ... red? :eek::eek::eek:
 

neoklis

Νεοκλής Λευκόπουλος, Γενικός Συντονιστής
#3
Mine was turquoise (more than twenty years ago), but we had no organs. :)
 

romanos4

Παλαιό Μέλος
#4
Mine was turquoise (more than twenty years ago), but we had no organs. :)
And for what it's worth, as a result to more and more exposure to Byzantine Music (via things like this forum) the trend is seemingly away from organ-led western choirs and toward more "Byzantine-chant choirs". In my parish in California - few young people really gravitate toward joining these "western" choirs and more want to learn Byzantine chant.

Our choir director/composer recently retired and the organist is leaving in June. What will happen is still uncertain but I'm looking forward to what I hope will be a "restart" with respect to our liturgical music at our parish.

I'm not sure to what extent the Archdiocese actually "sanctions" organ use - I think "tolerates" is a better word. Archbishop Demetrius seems very satisfied with the progress and direction of things like the Archdiocesan Byzantine Choir.

That polyphony/organs entered the GOA is an unfortunate development - in part because music was being composed that, despite good intentions, was done so without the guidance of anyone with a solid grounding in our 1000+ year old chanting tradition or if they had some knowledge just made sweeping reforms with the desire to somehow "blend in" more with American practices...the results of which I would argue have had the opposite desired effect.

I am grateful that my parish's clergy encourages Byzantine chant and importantly so does our Metropolitan...however there's still an older generation that enjoys these choirs/western music so it's political.

What I see the potential for is a situation that when this older generation stops singing the younger one is not prepared to take over and our archdiocese/metropolises don't have a well structured musical education program to pave the way, so to speak.

I'd be curious to see what other people think about this point (ie. is my thinking somewhat correct or am I way off).

Ultimately the Holy Spirit will guide us.

Ross
 

apostolos

Απόστολος Κομπίτσης
#5
Ross,

I think you are pretty much on the money with your assessment. At this point in time, "tolerates" is certainly a perfect word for the Archdiocesan acceptance of western polyphonic organ singing in our churches. And the reason for this is because no one dare go against the National Forum. They are a pretty powerful lobby with regards to church music in this country, and dismantling them would surely piss a lot of people off, to use the vernacular. Of course, a simple encyclical at the Archdiocesan level (supported by all Metropolitans, of course) could actually do away with this music in our churches in one fell swoop. Nevertheless, such an encyclical will probably never come to pass. We are always talking of the "graying" of the choirs, because as the older members retire or pass away, there are not enough newer (younger?) members to take their place, so the western choirs are getting smaller and smaller. This, of course, presents a GOLDEN opportunity for the Archdiocese to board the boat that it had missed 75 years ago and bring back the traditional music of the Church in an official capacity.

Apostolos
 

Nikolaos Giannoukakis

Παλαιό Μέλος
#6
DON'T HOLD YOUR BREATH FOLKS.

I am not as optimistic. The same methods and media that ensured that the head of an Archbishop was presented to the Patriarch on a platter will ensure that the organ and polyphony will be strictly rammed down most parishes.

So long as the hierarchy in the US does not immunise itself against this media and method, the status quo will remain.

Christ offered the choice of which master to follow 2 millenia ago.

NG
 
Last edited:

romanos4

Παλαιό Μέλος
#7
DON'T HOLD YOUR BREATH FOLKS.

I am not as optimistic. The same methods and media that ensured that the head of an Archbishop was presented to the Patriarch on a platter will ensure that the organ and polyphony will be strictly rammed down most parishes.

So long as the hierarchy in the US does not immunise itself against this media and method, the status quo will remain.

Christ offered the choice of which master to follow 2 millenia ago.

NG
I believe I know the incident to which you make reference - and that attitude goes way beyond Church music. To me it demonstrates a bad understanding of both ecclesiology and what it means to be Orthodox. It's the same generation who felt we needed to "blend in with America" and "adapt to the times" and when you look at what's going on with groups like the Episcopalians and even the Roman Catholics this attitude is having the opposite of the desired effect.

To the point at hand, this bad ecclesiology is also manifesting itself through calls by some for there to be such things as lay people distributing communion, abbreviation of the services etc. and that some how there's now become a "tradition of polyphony" as revealed to us by the immortal Desby and Sakellarides.

Lord, have mercy.
 
Last edited:
#8
From a Mr Giannoukakis post here I 've learned about the existence of the National Forum of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians.
(from their site)

Visiting the site, in the Publications section I found out a list named Organist Resources with various books about the use of organ during the service !!!! And this is OFFICIAL and under the blessing of the Archdiocese!!!:eek::eek::eek:

I was astonished and finally I found the explanation for the sad performance in the Liturgy during the visit of Archbishop Ieronimos in New York today. It was frustrating, the clergy inside the sanctuary chanting traditionally the Trisagion as we know in a crystal clear second mode and the mixed coir outside performed with the accompaniament of an organ:eek: ... dressed in red costumes:eek:

Also, there were two or three chanters (?) next to the sanctuary (I recognized them because they were standing in front of an analogion and wearing traditional black raso), but I didn't understand their significance.

Also I observed that everyone with a task they were wearing black raso, but the choir ... red? :eek::eek::eek:

As I expressed in the Greek section of Psaltologion, I share the commitment to authentic and traditional byzantine chant.

Unfortunately, much in this thread represents the ineffective attitudes among the psaltic community, in the US and abroad. For some individuals who are completely ignorant of the musical situation in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and who are ingrained in their own ways in Greece or elsewhere, the website of the National Forum of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians might come as a total shock (see above).

And instead of inquiring and exploring the historical circumstances which brought about the current western-influenced musical and instrumental practices (and even dress) among our fellow colleagues, they simply drop several of their criticisms about an organization they know nothing of, along with a plethora of 'shocked' emoticons.

Reminds me of the imperialistic attitudes among the European explorers upon viewing the natives of "the New World".

In fact, the source and inspiration of much in America comes from Greece, namely the Westernised music of Sakellarides. As a statement from Capella Romana literature states, "For a variety of historical and cultural reasons, singing in the Greek Orthodox churches of North America has until recently been dominated by the Westernised music of Sakellarides."

For more on John Sakellarides, click here for an article by musicologist Alexander Lingas.

"The Church needs everyone" said my friend and teacher Ioannis Arvanitis to me during a related discussion in which I expressed my frustrations.

Our colleagues in the western and instrumentally accompanied choirs (men, women, and children) serve the Church with love, commitment, and ORGANIZATION. The psaltic community could learn a lot from them in terms of hard work, cooperation, and calm collaboration.

This issue of traditional byzantine chant practitioners and western-influenced singers is first a human issue, a political issue (in the positive sense), a pastoral issue, and lastly a musical issue. People first, then Tradition.

Byzantine chanters and choirs are not interested in getting rid of anyone, "dismantling the National Forum", "pissing anyone off", or fighting anyone. They seek to engage, discuss, educate, present, and collaborate with others.

Moreover, the great teachers of byzantine chant did not wait from the ecclesiastical authorities to realize their dreams. If they had simply waited and complained, they wouldn't have done anything. They placed the entire burden of responsibility squarely on their own shoulders.

The contemporary tradition of America (it is in fact a tradition, even if misguided) was not created by church hierarchy nor by the National Forum. It was created within a historical and cultural context. And if we desire widespread change, it will not occur from the top down. It can only occur from the bottom up. Any change will take decades, hard work, education, gentle persuasion, and love. An encyclical or 'divine' command will accomplish nothing. It will only cause division.

The National Forum is ALSO for chanters and byzantine chant, not just for western singers. They support and promote byzantine chant as evidenced by their website and the following examples from the Axion Estin conference on byzantine chant in which leading officers from the National Forum reached out to the psaltic community.



Communication and dialogue is needed, not 'war' ('πόλεμος' is a favorite concept for some) and shocking condemnation.

Also, click here to see how incremental positive change takes place (video included, as well). For the Psaltologion thread click here.

 

domesticus

Lupus non curat numerum ovium
#9

As I expressed in the Greek section of Psaltologion, I share the commitment to authentic and traditional byzantine chant.

Unfortunately, much in this thread represents the ineffective attitudes among the psaltic community, in the US and abroad. For some individuals who are completely ignorant of the musical situation in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and who are ingrained in their own ways in Greece or elsewhere, the website of the National Forum of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians might come as a total shock (see above).

And instead of inquiring and exploring the historical circumstances which brought about the current western-influenced musical and instrumental practices (and even dress) among our fellow colleagues, they simply drop several of their criticisms about an organization they know nothing of, along with a plethora of 'shocked' emoticons.

Reminds me of the imperialistic attitudes among the European explorers upon viewing the natives of "the New World".

In fact, the source and inspiration of much in America comes from Greece, namely the Westernised music of Sakellarides. As a statement from Capella Romana literature states, "For a variety of historical and cultural reasons, singing in the Greek Orthodox churches of North America has until recently been dominated by the Westernised music of Sakellarides."

For more on John Sakellarides, click here for an article by musicologist Alexander Lingas.

"The Church needs everyone" said my friend and teacher Ioannis Arvanitis to me during a related discussion in which I expressed my frustrations.

Our colleagues in the western and instrumentally accompanied choirs (men, women, and children) serve the Church with love, commitment, and ORGANIZATION. The psaltic community could learn a lot from them in terms of hard work, cooperation, and calm collaboration.

This issue of traditional byzantine chant practitioners and western-influenced singers is first a human issue, a political issue (in the positive sense), a pastoral issue, and lastly a musical issue. People first, then Tradition.

Byzantine chanters and choirs are not interested in getting rid of anyone, "dismantling the National Forum", "pissing anyone off", or fighting anyone. They seek to engage, discuss, educate, present, and collaborate with others.

Moreover, the great teachers of byzantine chant did not wait from the ecclesiastical authorities to realize their dreams. If they had simply waited and complained, they wouldn't have done anything. They placed the entire burden of responsibility squarely on their own shoulders.

The contemporary tradition of America (it is in fact a tradition, even if misguided) was not created by church hierarchy nor by the National Forum. It was created within a historical and cultural context. And if we desire widespread change, it will not occur from the top down. It can only occur from the bottom up. Any change will take decades, hard work, education, gentle persuasion, and love. An encyclical or 'divine' command will accomplish nothing. It will only cause division.

The National Forum is ALSO for chanters and byzantine chant, not just for western singers. They support and promote byzantine chant as evidenced by their website and the following examples from the Axion Estin conference on byzantine chant in which leading officers from the National Forum reached out to the psaltic community.



Communication and dialogue is needed, not 'war' ('πόλεμος' is a favorite concept for some) and shocking condemnation.

Also, click here to see how incremental positive change takes place (video included, as well). For the Psaltologion thread click here.

OK. You 've said your piece.

Well, as an ignorant barbarian from the exotic country of Hellas, I say only this.

Let's leave aside the Sakelarides style and the western-influenced musical style in general, I wish you to justify the use of the organ at any way.

Please, feel free to explore the historical circumstances for the organ. Then try to tell me about it.

Ok, communication and dialogue are good points, but there are also thin red lines no to cross.

Anyway, I don't live in the US, so it's your problem, and if you like the current situation or you don't really want to change it, I don't give a damn about it.
 

Nikolaos Giannoukakis

Παλαιό Μέλος
#10
It may surprise you, dear Mr. Nassis, that since 2005, a group of respected Protopsaltae from across the US, sent a letter and a project proposal to realise the collaboration that the Forum has written about for more than 20 years as concerns its support for, and wish to expand BM. The letter and proposal had the support of more than 50 Psaltae from across the USA, including the very respected and renowned old-time Protopsaltae from your geographic region (Illinois).

The project involved no monetary requests, was a work of OFFERING and LOVE and involved the people who are trained by the Respected and Renowned Protopsaltai of old-time from Greece and Constantinople. Protopsaltae who are comfortable in English as they are fluent in Greek. Protopsaltae who enjoy the RESPECT of the Archons of Greece and Constantinople. A project that would have realised the aspirations (as they are articulated) by the Forum.

I was one of these people.

To our dismay and disappointment, the project was "tabled", and then, I believe buried. I speculate intentionally.

Instead of engaging our OFFERING OF DIAKONIA AND SELFLESS SERVICE for THEIR benefit and good name, the "darlings" of the Forum, approached half-learned, self-taught individuals (even though they are wonderful human beings) to teach....what?

No, Mr. Nassis, there are many things you are not aware of and one day, given the existence of a lot of documentation, you will revise your view.

Everything in its time. Το ώριμον είναι και ωραίο.

NG
 
#11
OK. You 've said your piece. Well, as an ignorant barbarian from the exotic country of Hellas, I say only this.
Forgive me, but "ignorant barbarian from the exotic country of Hellas" are your words. I said no such thing. In fact, byzantine chant practitioners from Greece happen to be my greatest source of personal inspiration and understanding in regards to byzantine chant.

Let's leave aside the Sakelarides style and the western-influenced musical style in general, I wish you to justify the use of the organ at any way. Please, feel free to explore the historical circumstances for the organ. Then try to tell me about it.
My previous post did not "justify" any practices. and neither will this post.

Ok, communication and dialogue are good points, but there are also thin red lines no to cross.
And what if your "thin red lines are crossed"? Then what? Throw aside all manners and morality and simply wage 'war'? Πόλεμος pure and simple? Fanaticism has no place in any Orthodox context, regardless the country.

Anyway, I don't live in the US, so it's your problem, and if you like the current situation or you don't really want to change it, I don't give a damn about it.
My previous post clearly discussed types of 'widespread change'.

As I expressed in the Greek section of Psaltologion, I share the commitment to authentic and traditional byzantine chant.

This issue of traditional byzantine chant practitioners and western-influenced singers is first a human issue, a political issue (in the positive sense), a pastoral issue, and lastly a musical issue. People first, then Tradition.

Byzantine chanters and choirs are not interested in getting rid of anyone, "dismantling the National Forum", "pissing anyone off", or fighting anyone. They seek to engage, discuss, educate, present, and collaborate with others.

Moreover, the great teachers of byzantine chant did not wait from the ecclesiastical authorities to realize their dreams. If they had simply waited and complained, they wouldn't have done anything. They placed the entire burden of responsibility squarely on their own shoulders.

The contemporary tradition of America (it is in fact a tradition, even if misguided) was not created by church hierarchy nor by the National Forum. It was created within a historical and cultural context. And if we desire widespread change, it will not occur from the top down. It can only occur from the bottom up. Any change will take decades, hard work, education, gentle persuasion, and love. An encyclical or 'divine' command will accomplish nothing. It will only cause division.
Anyway, I don't live in the US, so it's your problem, and if you like the current situation or you don't really want to change it, I don't give a damn about it.
I choose to fully accept any case I'm given. What you call a "problem", I call an opportunity, a challenge. As I tell my students, "As long as you're progressing, as long as you're moving in the right direction, that's all I care about." If we were in Africa would the situation be better? Progress, growth, and development in the tradition of byzantine chant are the key, not whining and condemning.

Nevertheless, thank you for sharing your lack of interest in issues relating to byzantine chant in the US. I wonder why you posted at all. Unless you seek to be some type of amateur 'shock jock'. I don't know. I simply ask that you consider a more constructive approach.

Sincerely,
TN

 
#12
It may surprise you, dear Mr. Nassis, that since 2005, a group of respected Protopsaltae from across the US, sent a letter and a project proposal to realise the collaboration that the Forum has written about for more than 20 years as concerns its support for, and wish to expand BM. The letter and proposal had the support of more than 50 Psaltae from across the USA, including the very respected and renowned old-time Protopsaltae from your geographic region (Illinois).

The project involved no monetary requests, was a work of OFFERING and LOVE and involved the people who are trained by the Respected and Renowned Protopsaltai of old-time from Greece and Constantinople. Protopsaltae who are comfortable in English as they are fluent in Greek. Protopsaltae who enjoy the RESPECT of the Archons of Greece and Constantinople. A project that would have realised the aspirations (as they are articulated) by the Forum.

I was one of these people.

To our dismay and disappointment, the project was "tabled", and then, I believe buried. I speculate intentionally.

Instead of engaging our OFFERING OF DIAKONIA AND SELFLESS SERVICE for THEIR benefit and good name, the "darlings" of the Forum, approached half-learned, self-taught individuals (even though they are wonderful human beings) to teach....what?

No, Mr. Nassis, there are many things you are not aware of and one day, given the existence of a lot of documentation, you will revise your view.

Everything in its time. Το ώριμον είναι και ωραίο.

NG

Mr. Giannoukakis,

Your penchant for gathering signatures and sending letters as a political ploy to influence ecclesiastical institutions and their decisions have been documented and are well known throughout the psaltic community.

So I'm not surprised that you first gathered 50 signatures from Psaltae across the US and then sent a "project idea" to the National Forum.

Forgive me for my doubts, but what was this 'project idea'? Is it strictly confidential that you did not simply explain it as you already mention it only as a "project idea"?

Was it something along the lines of, "Let's end all western-influenced and female singing across the US, and we the TRADITIONAL chanters will fill in the void, correcting all the wrongs of the last 75 years?" I'm sorry, but this is what comes to mind given your approach in this thread, in this post in the Greek section, and elsewhere.

Sincerely,
TN

 

Nikolaos Giannoukakis

Παλαιό Μέλος
#13
My Dear Mr. Nassis,

Before making assumptions, it would be wise to get a copy of the project proposal from the former Chairperson of the Forum. Prior to speculating, it would be useful to inform yourself of its aims and methods. I am sure that once you make yourself aware of the proposal you would sign on to the project wholeheartedly.

As an aside, I am not in the least apologetic in defending the Mother Church and her traditions. I am also not apologetic for speaking truth, based on facts, in the face of distortion and revision of history, tradition, and the fundamental tenets of Orthodox Christianity.

If you are now a representative of a movement that aims to denude Orthodox Christianity of one of its key traditions, which is its monophonic music, and in its place ramming music down the throats of the Greek Orthodox Church that is out of line with the Apostolic tradition, the Canons and three encyclicals of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, just because it is considered "American" then, you and that movement are against the Church and its traditions.

You cannot serve two masters, sir.

Penultimately, in an essay he wrote in the late 90s, Alexander Lingas summarised the reasons why polyphony became the music of the majority of the churches that were/are under the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. He also outlined the reasons why it is now, in our day, an anomaly given the opportunities available to convert the repertoire of the choirs from polyphonic to traditional Byzantine. Even in the English language (the very worthwhile works of Fr. Dedes and Fr. Serapheim).

The point, sir, is not to dismantle the choirs. They all serve their parishes well. The point is to persuade them that Orthodox Christianity has fundemantal building blocks that define it and distinguish it. One of them is BM. All choirs can adapt as long as they want to understand the tenets of the faith they serve. If they are unadaptable it means that they are musically illiterate (BM scores now exist in western musical notation) or they loathe those tenets they otherwise claim to serve and respect. The same is germane for the body that "governs" them.

Do you disagree with this?

NG
 
Last edited:

saltypsalti

Παλαιό Μέλος
#14
It may surprise you, dear Mr. Nassis, that since 2005, a group of respected Protopsaltae from across the US, sent a letter and a project proposal to realise the collaboration that the Forum has written about for more than 20 years as concerns its support for, and wish to expand BM. The letter and proposal had the support of more than 50 Psaltae from across the USA, including the very respected and renowned old-time Protopsaltae from your geographic region (Illinois).

The project involved no monetary requests, was a work of OFFERING and LOVE and involved the people who are trained by the Respected and Renowned Protopsaltai of old-time from Greece and Constantinople. Protopsaltae who are comfortable in English as they are fluent in Greek. Protopsaltae who enjoy the RESPECT of the Archons of Greece and Constantinople. A project that would have realised the aspirations (as they are articulated) by the Forum.

I was one of these people.

To our dismay and disappointment, the project was "tabled", and then, I believe buried. I speculate intentionally.

Instead of engaging our OFFERING OF DIAKONIA AND SELFLESS SERVICE for THEIR benefit and good name, the "darlings" of the Forum, approached half-learned, self-taught individuals (even though they are wonderful human beings) to teach....what?

No, Mr. Nassis, there are many things you are not aware of and one day, given the existence of a lot of documentation, you will revise your view.

Everything in its time. Το ώριμον είναι και ωραίο.

NG
First of all, I am a psaltis in the "Old Calendarist" GOC. Byzantine chant is completely the norm here, so my opinions are to be taken as they are --from someone who is xeni to the GOArch and its musical problems.

I appreciate fully the attempts by such individuals as John Boyer and others to work with the structure of the National Forum, and certainly the august labours of the Archdiocesan School of Chant are humbling, but the responses I have seen to date have been less than encouraging, and rather scandalizing IMHO. Listening to what sounded like a very condescending tone on the part of the esteemed Ms. Pappas at several of the Axion Estin conferences, in which she declared that they would "make byzantine chant resources" available, which undoubtedly means western notation, western vocal styles, etc. About 10 years ago, I commented on a thread on the old Yahoo Byzantine chant group, in which the esteemed Ms. Pappas was speaking about promoting Byzantine chant solely through academic means and through concerts -my comment being that it seemed that every attempt was being made to avoid promoting our lauded, holy and sacramental musical tradition in the environment in which they were intended, i.e. the very prayers and liturgical services of the Orthodox Church -a comment that was lauded by my esteemed colleague Kyr Mikhailakis. Additionally, it would seem to me, that the National Forum has been a very powerful cudgel against a small number of attempts I have seen to start authentic Byzantine choirs in parishes. Perhaps my interpretation is off kilter, but what from I have been reading -the fight will be a very long uphill one.

Just my thoughts -take them as you will. Music may make old calendarists of us all yet.

JPP
 

Nikolaos Giannoukakis

Παλαιό Μέλος
#15
The fear among the leadership of the Forum is the same fear that gripped Zeus when Prometheus took the fire and brought it to mortals.

They fear that adoption of BM by many choirs would essentially obviate their role and.....utility. Especially since none of the leaders and "darlings" have any serious idea about BM, certainly teaching it. Thus, stifle it, and it dies. Keep pushing the organs and the postmodernist interpretations or innovations of polyphony, ensure that the Hierarchy tows the line that "everything is permitted" because this is America after all (even though the Hierarchy is by their oath bound to, and bound to enforce the decisions of the Mother Church, including those...inconvenient.....three decisions on polyphony) and life goes on.

The problem is not necessarily only that of the Forum's leadership, but of the Hierarchy of the Archdiocese in permitting them to meddle in a subject matter that they have absolutely no idea of, and one that they certainly do not encourage or promote by accepting the participation of the SERIOUS PROTOPSALTAE IN THE USA.

NG
 

Nikolaos Giannoukakis

Παλαιό Μέλος
#16
Post-script.

The rationalisation that converts feel more comfortable with polyphony is rubbish. Many converts who have listened to even one CD of BM are dismayed coming to an Orthodox Church to witness poor choirs and a wailing organ. The general comment is "I converted to come to THIS?"

NG
 

saltypsalti

Παλαιό Μέλος
#17
...ensure that the Hierarchy tows the line that "everything is permitted" because this is America after all (even though the Hierarchy is by their oath bound to, and bound to enforce the decisions of the Mother Church, including those...inconvenient.....three decisions on polyphony) and life goes on.

The problem is not necessarily only that of the Forum's leadership, but of the Hierarchy of the Archdiocese in permitting them to meddle in a subject matter that they have absolutely no idea of, and one that they certainly do not encourage or promote by accepting the participation of the SERIOUS PROTOPSALTAE IN THE USA.

NG
And here rests the nub of the matter and one every psaltai on this list should take seriously in the "all is permitted Church of Nice"--what Photios Kontoglou of blessed memory calls "the unravelment of tradition" -pull a thread on your clothing, and keep pulling, and what's left? A pile of thread.

JPP
 

saltypsalti

Παλαιό Μέλος
#18
Post-script.

The rationalisation that converts feel more comfortable with polyphony is rubbish. Many converts who have listened to even one CD of BM are dismayed coming to an Orthodox Church to witness poor choirs and a wailing organ. The general comment is "I converted to come to THIS?"

NG
John's Postscript --what is further interested is that a lot of this garbage gets aimed at "ministering to young people" in addition to converts. The demographics belie this -the organ choir folks are almost all in the greying generation and advocates of traditional, sacramental chanting are now amongst the young, and the proselyte.

JPP
 

saltypsalti

Παλαιό Μέλος
#19
Just a note:

Taso posted a link to the Lingas Sakellarides article. The link was to my diocese's website, as I had it posted there. It was not particularly flattering to Sakellarides soi-disant reforms, nor was my intention of having it posted. The site has been moved and the correct link should be:

http://gocportland.org/chant_john_sakellarides.html

Dr. Giannoukakis also cites condemnations of 4 part polyphony in liturgical usage. The one that comes to mind and was reposted on our diocesan site is that of Patriarch Anthimos, and is the most germane to anyone who cares:

http://gocportland.org/1846PatriarchAnthimosEncyclical.pdf

JPP
 

romanos4

Παλαιό Μέλος
#20
The point, sir, is not to dismantle the choirs. They all serve their parishes well. The point is to persuade them that Orthodox Christianity has fundemantal building blocks that define it and distinguish it. One of them is BM. All choirs can adapt as long as they want to understand the tenets of the faith they serve. If they are unadaptable it means that they are musically illiterate (BM scores now exist in western musical notation) or they loathe those tenets they otherwise claim to serve and respect. The same is germane for the body that "governs" them.
This fundamentally is "it" the crux of the matter. The paradigm I'm seeing - albeit this probably varies region to region and in some cases parish to parish - is that the Forum truly yields less and less authority and influence and has become a more of a society for the preservation of singing Desby (et al). Really they seem to me to be threatened. I think that's partly why things like my parish's choir director retiring came about in part. Now in that particular instance you had an inflexible individual who was really all about using the Church choir as a platform for his own compositions first and foremost and not caring about the needs of the parish and how to transmit Orthodox hymnology to future generations or whether or not these compositions truly lend themselves to a prayerful environment for worship.

To the historical issue at hand I am sure it is true that to a large extent the generation of chanters 75 years ago didn't create an environment that allowed people to learn and in some cases were unwilling to share the chant stand (for what it's worth I didn't have an opportunity to learn psaltiki until our old psalti fell asleep in The Lord). Nonetheless just because certain "historical circumstances" came about doesn't mean the eventual outcome was the right one. I believe St. Maximos the Confessor was in the vast minority in the opposition to monothelitism. Iconoclasm endured 75 years or so itself.

As for the hard work and dedication comment I'm sorry but when I think about the hours I put into preparing and practicing chanting when I hear about how choir members can't even be bothered to show up to regular practices I take big exception. As we all know this is so much more than just showing up Sunday morning, being handed a sheet of music and being asked to sing it. To learn and realize psaltiki is to immerse oneself in theory, theology and to develop a vast appreciation for the cycle of services that we participate in.

I similarly take exception to the notion that Greek-American choral music is an organic part of the tradition. The fact that the Forum's notion of supporting Byzantine Chant is to offer Desby's transcriptions of hymns into Western notation shows that the Forum is only willing to engage chant on its own terms. When the forum or individual federations meet to discuss their next upcoming music conference the conversation centers around which western composers works to sing - never a discussion of how to incorporate chant into the repertoire.

As always it becomes personal and people are sensitive - but we have not endured 2000 years being the "Church of Nice". Yes the Church needs everyone but the "people first" attitude is dangerous and unsustainable.

Indeed transitioning (not doing away with) choirs to traditional chant (men and women) is a very realistic goal and if indeed you oppose that then let's be honest with ourselves and call this what it really is - a desire to hold on to ones childhood memories and a social club. Last I checked that's not what the Orthodox Church is about.
 
Last edited:
Top