Proposal to teach Byzantine Chant throughout the U.S.A.

#1
K. Giannoukaki -- I am curious, is there a possibility that I might be able to see this proposal? You have mentioned it to me before, and I would be interested to read it myself. Since moving to a GOA parish, I have been, ας πούμε, encouraged to involve myself in Federation/National Forum affairs; perhaps I could help.
I also would like to actually see this proposal and the names of those that signed on. Mr. Giannoukakis mentioned 50 signatures of chanters? I for one only hear about this here on Psaltologion. Anyone else have prior knowledge of this?

Dear Richard,

It would be best to ask the former Chairperson of the Forum for a copy.

If the former Chairperson refuses to send it to you, I will be more than happy to post it publically.

In essence, it proposed a network of "schools" of BM across the USA where BM would be taught in a systematic and in depth manner by the psaltae with classic and traditional training and many years of expertise and service to the church.

The psaltae teachers proposed represent the tradition of the Mother Church, have the CREDIBILITY as representatives of traditional chant, conferred by the Psaltae Masters of old-time, Protopsaltae of great renown in Greece.

As the program evolved, the core group of teachers would invite other psaltae/teachers to increase the density of the network. Most of these "schools" (or annexes of a School of BM) would offer training in Greek/English and any other language where there was interest. BM along with Typikon would be emphasised and where there was an interest, implementation of Byzantine chant by established choirs would be facilitated.

This School of annexes (or schools) would not operate in the void as it would have a Hierarch of the Synod in its midst, and most critically, it would involve the Archon Protopsaltis of the Great Church of Christ (currently Mr. Leonidas Asteris) and the resident Professor of Byzantine Music of the Theological Seminary of the GOA (currently Mr. Grammenos Karanos) in its curriculum, and its testing. The internet would be leveraged to bring Constantinople in touch with the US annexes and the internet would also be used as a one-to-one and/or one-to-many didactic medium with real-time video interaction between teacher/student(s). Technology and resources from Pittsburgh-area universities, especially those available to www.asbmh.pitt.edu would facilitate the internet linkage.

We emphasised that no money would be required to realise this. Perhaps that was our mistake and the politburo of the Forum would have preferred a project that sought money.

Again, get the full proposal from the former Chairperson.

NG
Interesting, but I would still like to see the actual proposal. Nick, would you be willing to post it?

I will do so and see what kind of response I get. I'll let you know.

Incidentally, the notion that you may have been better off acting like you needed money may be quite right; my off-the-cuff impression is that one of the political issues between the Federation/National Forum people and chanters is that chanters basically bypass the National Forum by the very nature of who does what. The National Forum doesn't provide any resources that chanters really need (even the liturgical guidebook wouldn't be necessary to a psaltis accustomed to interacting with the actual liturgical books), and the materials that chanters do use are not under the imprimatur of the National Forum. If the National Forum held, say, the exclusive rights to distribute the Anastasimatarion of Petros Lambadarios in North America, that might be one thing, but that's not the case, and there's not really anything the National Forum can do to regulate what chanters do otherwise (beyond the politics of who gets to sing the Divine Liturgy on Sunday). So the National Forum may well have seen your proposal and said, well, what do you need us for if you're not asking for anything, since you don't really need us to begin with? That may not have been the right response, but knowing at least some of the parties involved, I could see that as a possible scenario.

Richard
Richard, were you able to get this proposal?

Is the National Forum even necessary? Can't the chanters and byzantine choirs of America create their own National Association which can then support these types of projects?

Sincerely,
Taso

 

Nikolaos Giannoukakis

Παλαιό Μέλος
#2
Thankfully, the School of Theology, just last week, announced this:

http://www.hchc.edu/about/news/news_releases/byzantine_music_certificate

It obviates everything, including any proposal I submitted to the National Forum, and it offers guidance for those under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of America.

Now, will the National Forum have the decency to stop claiming expertise in Byzantine Music (which it does NOT have) and defer to the School of Theology on all matters of BM, thus allowing itself to focus on its historical and honest intent and objective: The cultivation of polyphony as a means of musical expression in the church?

Also it should change its name as it does NOT represent ALL musicians of the Archdiocese. Something like "National Forum of Greek Orthodox Polyphonic Music" would be factual and appropriate. That way it will not mislead anyone as to its nature, its objectives and its principles.

NG
 
Last edited:
#3
Nick,
Forgive me, but I don't quite agree with the following interpretations of this new offering by Holy Cross of a certificate in Byzantine Music ...
a)
Thankfully, the School of Theology, just last week, announced this:

http://www.hchc.edu/about/news/news_releases/byzantine_music_certificate

It obviates everything, including any proposal I submitted to the National Forum, and it offers guidance for those under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of America.

Now, will the National Forum have the decency to stop claiming expertise in Byzantine Music (which it does NOT have) and defer to the School of Theology on all matters of BM...
If the National Forum wishes to inquire about Byzantine Music issues to Holy Cross, I'm sure they would be welcome to. But to say, "Now, will the National Forum have the decency to stop claiming expertise in Byzantine Music (which it does NOT have) and defer to the School of Theology on all matters of BM..." strikes me as inappropriate. They do offer some educational materials in byzantine chant, but I don't think the National Forum has ever claimed to be an authority on byzantine chant. They're not allowed to promote Byzantine Music at all?

....and....
b)
Νομίζω όμως, πως απο την στιγμή που ΕΠΙΣΗΜΩΣ η Αρχιεπισκοπή Αμερικής (γιαυτούς που την υπηρετούν βεβαίως) θεσπίζει ΕΠΙΣΗΜΟ Πρόγραμμα Ιεροψαλτικής κατάρτισης στην Θεολογική Σχολή, οι εξωεκκλησιαστικοί παράγοντες λαμβάνουν δευτερεύουσα θέση. Καλό θα ήταν, οι προσωπικές και τοπικές πρωτοβουλίες, απο σήμερα και στο εξής, να συντονίζονται με το επίσημο πλέον πρόγραμμα αυτό

http://www.hchc.edu/about/news/news_releases/byzantine_music_certificate

Τώρα, τι γίνεται και τι μέλλει γενέσθαι στις άλλες Ορθόδοξες δικαιοδοσίες (Αντιοχειανή, OCA, ROCA, ROCOR, Γ.Ο.Χ., κ.α.), δεν μπορώ και δεν επιτρέπεται να σχολιάσω. Αυτοί ας φτιάξουν δικά τους προγράμματα.
(My translation) But I think that from the moment the Archdiocese of America (for those who serve it, of course) OFFICIALLY establishes an OFFICIAL Chant Training Program at the Theological School, exoecclesiastical factors take a secondary position. It would be desirable, from today onwards, that personal and local initiatives coordinate with the official program here
http://www.hchc.edu/about/news/news...bout these interpretations. [/SIZE][/FONT]
 

Nikolaos Giannoukakis

Παλαιό Μέλος
#4
Dear Tassos:

You write:

They [The Forum] do offer some educational materials in byzantine chant, but I don't think the National Forum has ever claimed to be an authority on byzantine chant.

1) Over the years, the Forum has sponsored what they call CMIs and they have invited individuals to speak about and offer "workshops", "clinics", "sessions" on Byzantine chant. Most of the time, the people offering these sessions have no background or credibility in BM.

Authority, or claim of authority can be implied by an action as well as appropriation of matters that an organisation has absolutely very little expertise (or interest in).

2) Please look at this document:

http://churchmusic.goarch.org/assets/files/Coordinating_Committee_Manual_2012.pdf

[from page 2]
What Does the National Forum Do?

Develops and publishes other MATERIALS to strengthen local church music programs:
...
˗
The Notation, Transcription, and Rendition of Post-Byzantine Chant: a Guide for Chanters

Is this not an attempt to establish authority on the suject matter?


3) You will also find many references in this document on the "standing commitee of BM" or "Byzantine Music" (page 4, page 7, page 12 . The mere existence of this committee need not imply an attempt to establish authority on the subject matter or authority or regulation of activities where the subject matter is involved.

However, when one looks at the responsibilities of the Standing Committee on BM, one finds the following (in the same document, page 12):

Byzantine Music Initiatives
The duties of the Standing Committee on Byzantine Music shall be:
1. Development of Forum materials related to Byzantine music
2. Periodic review and maintenance of current Forum Byzantine music
materials
3. Consideration of other Byzantine music materials development for publication and other avenues of promoting Byzantine music
4. Review Forum relationships with various schools of Byzantine training in the Archdiocese
5. Recommendations for future National Forum goals and activities related to this area

Duties 1, 2, 3 are clearly duties related to, if not explicit, implicitly aimed at establishment of authority on the subject matter.


4) Now, if that was not enough, have a look here:

http://www.churchmusic.goarch.org/publications/positionpapers

A position paper, by definition, is authoritative and is comprised of objectives that aim to establish authority on the subject matter.

5) Then, there is this:

http://churchmusic.goarch.org/assets/files/Desby_Training_Manual_Order_Form.pdf

Is the Forum not asserting authority in promoting a works by an individual who has no credibility or history in BM (http://churchmusic.goarch.org/assets/files/Frank_Desby_Bio.pdf)?

So, is the Forum attempting to establish authority on BM or not?


Then, Tassos, you write:

Are you suggesting that the purpose of this new program is to place other educational initiatives in a "secondary position"? All efforts throughout the US which seek to teach byzantine chant ought to "coordinate with the official program"?

Let me clear about I wrote to avoid the potential of misunderstanding or, worse, potential for misrepresentation-

The program is what it is and it serves those who want accreditation from an institute that is an official arm of the Archdiocese of America and by extension the Ecumenical Patriarchate. From what I read it's objective and purpose is very clear and it aims to train individuals so that they can be competent chantors to serve the parishes that need chantors. And it will conduct its objectives with the aim of confering an official recognition that the candidates have met the standards expected by the OFFICIAL church.

That it is an official program de facto of a church based on hierarchy should command our respect for its prime position as the official vehicle for chantor training. As the OFFICIAL training program, it serves as our guide for any regional endeavours already underway or planned.

I respect my church and its hierarchy. As such, I aim to mirror this new program because some of our area people might want to enroll in the program in Boston. I will be doing them a great disservice by giving them material that is foreign to the training program and I will be disrespectful to my church by promoting material that the Mother Church does not approve of.

I hope that I have better articulated my view.

NG
 
#5
Two quick points because I don't think this discussion necessarily benefits the promotion of byzantine chant in America...

Dear Tassos:

You write:

They [The Forum] do offer some educational materials in byzantine chant, but I don't think the National Forum has ever claimed to be an authority on byzantine chant.

1) Over the years, the Forum has sponsored what they call CMIs and they have invited individuals to speak about and offer "workshops", "clinics", "sessions" on Byzantine chant. Most of the time, the people offering these sessions have no background or credibility in BM.

Authority, or claim of authority can be implied by an action as well as appropriation of matters that an organisation has absolutely very little expertise (or interest in).

2) Please look at this document:

http://churchmusic.goarch.org/assets/files/Coordinating_Committee_Manual_2012.pdf

[from page 2]
What Does the National Forum Do?

Develops and publishes other MATERIALS to strengthen local church music programs:
...
˗
The Notation, Transcription, and Rendition of Post-Byzantine Chant: a Guide for Chanters

Is this not an attempt to establish authority on the suject matter?


3) You will also find many references in this document on the "standing commitee of BM" or "Byzantine Music" (page 4, page 7, page 12 . The mere existence of this committee need not imply an attempt to establish authority on the subject matter or authority or regulation of activities where the subject matter is involved.

However, when one looks at the responsibilities of the Standing Committee on BM, one finds the following (in the same document, page 12):

Byzantine Music Initiatives
The duties of the Standing Committee on Byzantine Music shall be:
1. Development of Forum materials related to Byzantine music
2. Periodic review and maintenance of current Forum Byzantine music
materials
3. Consideration of other Byzantine music materials development for publication and other avenues of promoting Byzantine music
4. Review Forum relationships with various schools of Byzantine training in the Archdiocese
5. Recommendations for future National Forum goals and activities related to this area

Duties 1, 2, 3 are clearly duties related to, if not explicit, implicitly aimed at establishment of authority on the subject matter.


4) Now, if that was not enough, have a look here:

http://www.churchmusic.goarch.org/publications/positionpapers

A position paper, by definition, is authoritative and is comprised of objectives that aim to establish authority on the subject matter.

5) Then, there is this:

http://churchmusic.goarch.org/assets/files/Desby_Training_Manual_Order_Form.pdf

Is the Forum not asserting authority in promoting a works by an individual who has no credibility or history in BM (http://churchmusic.goarch.org/assets/files/Frank_Desby_Bio.pdf)?

So is the Forum attempting to establish authority on BM or not?
... so, at the end of the day, you are simply asking that the National Forum exclude anything and everything to do with byzantine chant from their agenda?

Because if I was from the leadership of the National Forum that's probably what I would gather from this discussion. "Stay away from byzantine chant! It is ours and ours alone! Stay off our turf!"

And this would benefit byzantine chant how?

(This kind of rigid, absolutist attitude is not conducive to the cooperative endeavors which you attempted to pursue. It is perhaps this ineffective approach which you should analyze and critique rather than simply placing all the blame onto the National Forum.)

Then, Tassos, you write:

Are you suggesting that the purpose of this new program is to place other educational initiatives in a "secondary position"? All efforts throughout the US which seek to teach byzantine chant ought to "coordinate with the official program"?

Let me clear about I wrote to avoid the potential of misunderstanding or, worse, potential for misrepresentation-

The program is what it is and it serves those who want accreditation from an institute that is an official arm of the Archdiocese of America and by extension the Ecumenical Patriarchate. From what I read it's objective and purpose is very clear and it aims to train individuals so that they can be competent chantors to serve the parishes that need chantors. And it will conduct its objectives with the aim of confering an official recognition that the candidates have met the standards expected by the OFFICIAL church.

That it is an official program de facto of a church based on hierarchy should command our respect for its prime position as the official vehicle for chantor training. As the OFFICIAL training program, it serves as our guide for any regional endeavours already underway or planned.

I respect my church and its hierarchy. As such, I aim to mirror this new program because some of our area people might want to enroll in the program in Boston. I will be doing them a great disservice by giving them material that is foreign to the training program and I will be disrespectful to my church by promoting material that the Mother Church does not approve of.

I hope that I have better articulated my view.

NG
Thank you for clarifying! You are simply articulating your own opinions. Because with your earlier comments and all their numerous repititions of the word "official", some might think that you were speaking on behalf of the Archdiocese or Holy Cross.

 
Last edited:

Nikolaos Giannoukakis

Παλαιό Μέλος
#6
Back to the discussion.....after a few days of energising the batteries.....

You state, Dear Tassos:

... so, at the end of the day, you are simply asking that the National Forum exclude anything and everything to do with byzantine chant from their agenda?

That is exactly what I am proposing.

You then conjecture:

Because if I was from the leadership of the National Forum that's probably what I would gather from this discussion. "Stay away from byzantine chant! It is ours and ours alone! Stay off our turf!"

The sentence inside the quotation marks is your own assumption. That is not the spirit in which I make my argument.

My position is not based on a preconceived, prejudiced idea about the Forum, but a consequence of observation and experience (not only mine, but experiences of many chantors in the US - just ask your colleagues in Chicago, starting with the esteemed Mr. Georgafentis, and then go down the list from there....).

The behaviour is inconsistent with the stated objectives and aims. I've articulated that earlier. The argument used to be that chantors do not approach the Forum because they are prejudiced against the emphasis on western polyphony. That argument had merits 20 years ago and I've conceded that. As of the late 90s, early 2000 that changed since the younger generation wanted to work and ASSIST the Forum REALISE their stated objectives that included support of BM and Chant. More on this in reply to another part of your commentary further below....

You then ask:

And this would benefit byzantine chant how?

It would benefit the dissemination of chant because:

1) as the Forum disengages from BM, it would allow the Archdiocese to establish a specific and specially commissioned Synodic Committee on BM no different than what one sees in the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Church of Greece.

2) as the Forum disengages from BM, it would have a clear and concrete mandate. As it stands, western polyphony is in direct violation of three Patriarchal edicts. As it stands, western polyphony is in direct contradiction to the musical traditions of the Great Church of Christ. By trying to accomodate and/or to put under ONE aegis two diametrically-different musical systems, the Forum has essentially become musically....schizophrenic (I use the term in the pejorative, not in the literal sense). By disengaging from BM, it will be cleansed of a musical system that has never defined it, nor that it (from my observations) really wants.

3) That is has chosen to appoint individuals who have no serious classical training (even as they are delightful human beings) as its "experts" calls into question its seriousness on commitment at preserving and disseminating BM. By disengaging from BM, it will allow the Synod (no less than four metropolitans in addition to the Archbishop are very knowledgeable about what is and what isn't traditional BM), WORKING THROUGH THE ECUMENICAL PATRIARCHATE and the Seminary, to create a solid and credible Synodical Committee that will focus EXCLUSIVELY and CREDIBLY on BM.

You then state:

(This kind of rigid, absolutist attitude is not conducive to the cooperative endeavors which you attempted to pursue. It is perhaps this ineffective approach which you should analyze and critique rather than simply placing all the blame onto the National Forum.)

Your argument makes no sense. It was I, Dear Tassos, that made the first step. Not the other way around. It was done with love, FLEXIBILITY, and with the intent of bridging a generational gap. If ANYONE in the Forum disputes this, I am at their disposal IN PUBLIC. Let the facts be shown.

The questions, sir, should be targeted to the Forum. They were the RECIPIENTS of a proposal that was made in good faith, and in a manner that would strengthen the STATED goals of the Forum with a US-wide network of seasoned, credible, and renowned colleagues and not (at best) half-learned transients in a variety of choirs in Greece who have become self-appointed "experts".

The Forum can help itself and its credibility by focusing on its historic mission of preserving polyphony. That's what it was founded on, that's what defines it, that's what it supports in a sincere manner and that is where it derives its most committed membership.

BM should be left to the Holy Synod, and, now - since its establishment - the formal training vehicle of the Seminary and Prof. Karanos.

Whether you support the Forum or not is of no interest to me.

Whether you support the Mother Church and its traditions (and decisions) should be something that you should seriously think about.

NG
 
Last edited:
#7
You state, Dear Tassos:

... so, at the end of the day, you are simply asking that the National Forum exclude anything and everything to do with byzantine chant from their agenda?

That is exactly what I am proposing.
This will not happen and should not happen. The National Forum will and should include chanters and byzantine music in their agenda.

You then conjecture:

Because if I was from the leadership of the National Forum that's probably what I would gather from this discussion. "Stay away from byzantine chant! It is ours and ours alone! Stay off our turf!"

The sentence inside the quotation marks is your own assumption. That is not the spirit in which I make my argument.
The spirit of your arguments and proposals seems clear to me ... unfortunately.

You then ask:

And this would benefit byzantine chant how?

It would benefit the dissemination of chant because:

1) as the Forum disengages from BM, it would allow the Archdiocese to establish a specific and specially commissioned Synodic Committee on BM no different than what one sees in the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Church of Greece.
Without the Forum's "disengagement", this "Synodic Committee" would be impossible to arrange?

2) as the Forum disengages from BM, it would have a clear and concrete mandate. As it stands, western polyphony is in direct violation of three Patriarchal edicts. As it stands, western polyphony is in direct contradiction to the musical traditions of the Great Church of Christ. By trying to accomodate and/or to put under ONE aegis two diametrically-different musical systems, the Forum has essentially become musically....schizophrenic (I use the term in the pejorative, not in the literal sense). By disengaging from BM, it will be cleansed of a musical system that has never defined it, nor that it (from my observations) really wants.
Musical "cleansing" ... really? Byzantine Chant is "corrupting" the National Forum? Oh, please.

3) That is has chosen to appoint individuals who have no serious classical training (even as they are delightful human beings) as its "experts" calls into question its seriousness on commitment at preserving and disseminating BM. By disengaging from BM, it will allow the Synod (no less than four metropolitans in addition to the Archbishop are very knowledgeable about what is and what isn't traditional BM), WORKING THROUGH THE ECUMENICAL PATRIARCHATE and the Seminary, to create a solid and credible Synodical Committee that will focus EXCLUSIVELY and CREDIBLY on BM.
After the Synod "focuses" on BM, then what does your master plan call for?

You then state:

(This kind of rigid, absolutist attitude is not conducive to the cooperative endeavors which you attempted to pursue. It is perhaps this ineffective approach which you should analyze and critique rather than simply placing all the blame onto the National Forum.)

Your argument makes no sense. It was I, Dear Tassos, that made the first step. Not the other way around. It was done with love, FLEXIBILITY, and with the intent of bridging a generational gap. If ANYONE in the Forum disputes this, I am at their disposal IN PUBLIC. Let the facts be shown.
Yes, you approached them, and they ignored you. Why do you think? Seems clear to me ... again, unfortunately.

The questions, sir, should be targeted to the Forum. They were the RECIPIENTS of a proposal that was made in good faith, and in a manner that would strengthen the STATED goals of the Forum with a US-wide network of seasoned, credible, and renowned colleagues and not (at best) half-learned transients in a variety of choirs in Greece who have become self-appointed "experts".

The Forum can help itself and its credibility by focusing on its historic mission of preserving polyphony. That's what it was founded on, that's what defines it, that's what it supports in a sincere manner and that is where it derives its most committed membership.
Perhaps you would like to run for President of the Forum? Because it seems like you have plans for everyone ... The Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Church of Greece, the Archdiocese of America, Holy Cross Seminary, Archbishop Demetrios, Prof. Karanos, the National Forum. Did I leave anyone out?

BM should be left to the Holy Synod, and, now - since its establishment - the formal training vehicle of the Seminary and Prof. Karanos.
"BM should be left" to ... everyone who loves it.

In my opinion, BM in America does not need Synods, Committees, and master plans. It needs to be developed, taught, and promoted at a grass roots level to the best of each of our abilities.

Unfortunately, our self-appointed czars of byzantine chant have other plans ... much more grand and militant ... unfortunately.

Sincerely,
Tasos
P.S.(1) As I said before, I don't think this discussion necessarily benefits the promotion of byzantine chant in America. Instead the public might easily perceive chanters to be rigidly ideological and stubbornly fanatical.
P.S.(2)
Whether you support the Mother Church and its traditions (and decisions) should be something that you should seriously think about.
I've been faithfully serving my church my entire life. Ad hominem attacks aren't really necessary, are they?


 
Last edited:

GabrielCremeens

Music Director at St. George, Albuquerque, NM
#8
This will not happen and should not happen. The National Forum will and should include chanters and byzantine music in their agenda.
With all due respect to the Forum as an official body of the Archdiocese, how much do they actually know about Byzantine music? If someone who is in a leadership position in the forum were to chant an Orthros service for a weekday in a parish (or any service, for that matter), would it sound like traditional Byzantine chant? Have they been taught by a credible teacher? Do they have a solid knowledge of the theory and practice of the Psaltic Art? If the answer to any of these questions is "no" (for those in positions of leadership in the Forum, especially those who, for whatever reason, want to have some say in matters of Byzantine music), should they be allowed to oversee or try to direct the development and promotion of traditional chanting in America?

I don't know a lot of people in the Forum, and I don't know their skill level in the Psaltic Art. I'm just a student at the school in Boston. But, the commonsense answer would seem to be that, if the persons in positions of authority in any group wish to oversee something and present it as being under the auspices of their group, they themselves should possess a solid working knowledge of that thing.

This statement is not intended to malign any members of the Forum in general, nor the leadership specifically. I honestly do not know their skill level and knowledge of Byzantine chant. And, as I said, I'm just an undergrad student at Hellenic College. But, let's say the roles were reversed, and their was some kind of national body comprised entirely of chanters that oversaw music in the GOA. And let's also assume that the "norm" in America was Byzantine chant, and that most members of choirs in churches at least had a working knowledge of the Psaltic Art. Let's say my knowledge and experience of chanting was far greater than it is now, and I happened to be in some kind of leadership position within this body - we'll call it the "National Forum of Byzantine Music." If all of the above were granted, and I found myself in such a position, I don't think I could honestly claim that I could somehow oversee the teaching, promotion, etc, of some other kind of "ecclesiastical music" (Western-style polyphony with organ accompaniment) within the GOA, simply by virtue of the fact that I was in a leadership position and had a broad knowledge of the theory and practice of the Psaltic Art.

By comparison, I wouldn't try to promote a car if I couldn't drive it.

-Gabriel

P.S. As I said above, I do not intend any of these statements to be attempts to malign members of the forum. I am ready, willing, and will be most ecstatic to hear about members of the Forum, in leadership positions, who are indeed well-versed in Byzantine Music! :)
 
Last edited:

Nikolaos Giannoukakis

Παλαιό Μέλος
#9
Dear Mr. Nassis,

You state:

In my opinion, BM in America does not need Synods, Committees, and master plans. It needs to be developed, taught, and promoted at a grass roots level to the best of each of our abilities.

Without guidance, dear sir, and in the wilderness of secularism and secularising trends, one needs guidance. Otherwise, the faith becomes infected with elements that lead to heresy.

That is why Synods exist and Synodical Committees exist. Imagine outsourcing iconography to a Forum of Artists (who have no clue about iconography). The outcome would be quite, shall we say, surreal.

In the same manner, dear sir, music of the church under other jurisdictions is under Synodical oversight. That it is not here in the US is because the Forum interjected itself, largely out of self-preservation, because it knows that time is working against it.

I suspect that is the reason why all of a sudden their interest in BM has become, infectious. They will need a reason to exist in 15-20 years, so why not expand their interests in BM.

As for BM development it requires FULLY-TRAINED and CREDIBLE PSALTAI. Not transient appendages of choirs or para-ecclesiastic groups who listened to a couple of CDs and think they are above Iakovos Naypliotis.

BM development also requires a plan that is GUIDED by ecclesiastic authority along the lines of (assuming you are part of the Ecumenical Patriarchate's jurisdiction of course) what the Mother Church guides as appropriate. Not along innovations that have no basis in history or tradition.

That elements of the Forum have chosen to ignore the offers of CREDIBLE and FULLY-TRAINED psaltai only discredits their aims on matters of BM.

As to your propositions that I run for offices I think that you, sir, are the most appropriate. You are on the record as championing the Forum's cause.

On the other hand, the rest of us will follow the Mother Church. She leads, we follow. We do not innovate placing ourselves as outliers of the tradition and as wolves in sheep's clothing.

NG
 

domesticus

Lupus non curat numerum ovium
#10

.....
In my opinion, BM in America does not need Synods, Committees, and master plans. It needs to be developed, taught, and promoted at a grass roots level to the best of each of our abilities.
....


Western style, I like it:rolleyes:

But to the crucial matter. I just wonder, do you have any ideas about who are the ... developer, the ... teacher, the ... promoter of BM? :rolleyes:

Please, be so kind to enlighten the ... audience ...

Beware, I don't eat ... grass :cool:
 
#11
Gabriel,

I appreciate your considerate treatment of this issue and agree with your overall concerns. Specifically now,

With all due respect to the Forum as an official body of the Archdiocese, how much do they actually know about Byzantine music? If someone who is in a leadership position in the forum were to chant an Orthros service for a weekday in a parish (or any service, for that matter), would it sound like traditional Byzantine chant? Have they been taught by a credible teacher? Do they have a solid knowledge of the theory and practice of the Psaltic Art?
I cannot answer these questions, but I would encourage you and anyone else to participate, inquire, and look into the activities of The National Forum which relate to Byzantine Chant. By its very nature, the NM includes byzantine chant and we have a right, if not an obligation, to play our constructive role in this organization and of course develop it and reform it, if necessary.

If the answer to any of these questions is "no" (for those in positions of leadership in the Forum, especially those who, for whatever reason, want to have some say in matters of Byzantine music), should they be allowed to oversee or try to direct the development and promotion of traditional chanting in America?
"Should they?" I'm not so interested in this question. I'm more interested in "do they?" And as far as I can see, (and I ask my respected colleagues to chime in as well), I haven't seen any significant oversight, development, or leadership from the Forum re: byzantine chant. So all of the panic and paranoia regarding the National Forum's "intrusion" into byzantine chant is completely delusional, in my opinion.

I am not about to push away any (even minor) positive encouragement of byzantine chant, even from those that aren't experts in byzantine chant.

I don't know a lot of people in the Forum, and I don't know their skill level in the Psaltic Art. I'm just a student at the school in Boston. But, the commonsense answer would seem to be that, if the persons in positions of authority in any group wish to oversee something and present it as being under the auspices of their group, they themselves should possess a solid working knowledge of that thing.
I totally agree! One would hope for solid expertise.

This statement is not intended to malign any members of the Forum in general, nor the leadership specifically. I honestly do not know their skill level and knowledge of Byzantine chant. And, as I said, I'm just an undergrad student at Hellenic College. But, let's say the roles were reversed, and their was some kind of national body comprised entirely of chanters that oversaw music in the GOA. And let's also assume that the "norm" in America was Byzantine chant, and that most members of choirs in churches at least had a working knowledge of the Psaltic Art. Let's say my knowledge and experience of chanting was far greater than it is now, and I happened to be in some kind of leadership position within this body - we'll call it the "National Forum of Byzantine Music." If all of the above were granted, and I found myself in such a position, I don't think I could honestly claim that I could somehow oversee the teaching, promotion, etc, of some other kind of "ecclesiastical music" (Western-style polyphony with organ accompaniment) within the GOA, simply by virtue of the fact that I was in a leadership position and had a broad knowledge of the theory and practice of the Psaltic Art.
I like your idea of a "National Forum of Byzantine Music". Do you think something like that is necessary in the GOA?

By comparison, I wouldn't try to promote a car if I couldn't drive it.
You've never seen the hundreds of beautiful female models at the major car shows promoting Ferraris, Porsches, Lamborghinis, and other luxury cars? Do you think they know how to drive them?

Would we want to turn anyone away from promoting byzantine music? The National Forum does not obstruct anyone in any way from organizing and developing byzantine chant either locally or nationally. The field is completely open.

P.S. As I said above, I do not intend any of these statements to be attempts to malign members of the forum. I am ready, willing, and will be most ecstatic to hear about members of the Forum, in leadership positions, who are indeed well-versed in Byzantine Music! :)
So am I!

Sincerely,
Taso

 
#12
Nick,

The repetitive talking points and widespread accusations lashing out in all directions in your message here ...
... have become tiresome, but the title and subject of this thread are still clear. I take it you are unwilling to share the proposal you supposedly sent to the National Forum and which they supposedly ignored.

If so, we cannot accept your accusation that the National Forum does not care at all about Byzantine Chant and, as a result, this thread is pretty much over.

Happy chanting! :)

 

Nikolaos Giannoukakis

Παλαιό Μέλος
#13
Dear Tasos,

You state:

If so, we cannot accept your accusation that the National Forum does not care at all about Byzantine Chant and, as a result, this thread is pretty much over

The National Forum has its agenda and objectives. One can look at its documents and decide for themselves the degree of its interest and seriousness about promoting BM. One also can consider what and who it brings in to its CMIs and its gatherings as "experts" in BM over its history as well as what it has tangibly supported over the years in terms of BM development. Where are the fruits of its interest in BM? Who has it supported? What are their credentials and supposed expertise? What "traditions" do these individuals represent? Are they in line with the Mother Church?

I will not tire you in continuing this discussion. But, I will offer these last few paragraphs-

Since your comments appear to betray an intimacy with the leadership of the Forum, then surely you have access to individuals like Ms. Pappas. I am more than confident that she can send you the proposal. And, please, share it here.

As for sexy female models posing with high-performance automobiles, the serious buyer purchases the vehicle, not the fashion model. Serious drivers look beyond the lipstick.

But perhaps in America, one goes to car shows for the fleshy eye candy and not the vehicle.

On the other hand, why would any serious driver even go to car shows? Serious and knowledgeable owners know the specs and simply go straight to the manufacturer and custom-make their order. They don't waste time shopping around and looking at.....fleshy eye candy at car shows.

A road-worthy high-performance vehicle takes time to manufacture and is then field tested extensively before it is delivered to its owner. It is not made on an assembly line.

There is a message about teachers, Byzantine chant and tradition in my notes above. Think about it.

NG
 
Last edited:

romanos4

Παλαιό Μέλος
#14
I'm a little late to this party as they say but have a few comments:

What certainly is lamentable is that there was no liturgical music oversight committee in this country from the beginning, with which we'd perhaps avoid some of this present situation. Perhaps the effect of this would be to rein in those who, under the guise of using their God-given talent for His glory, will develop a more thorough understanding of the tradition of our Church and work within this tradition.

Nonetheless, to those who are involved in these discussions I think a few things are obvious:

- Even with stated support for Byzantine Music, the leadership of the Forum's notion of "support" for Byzantine Music seems fairly limited to "Frank Desby's Guide to transcribing Byzantine Chant in to Western Notation" as well as "John Velon's transcription of 10,000 hymns". With the former, the National Forum has an order form. I sent an e-mail asking if they would provide me with a sample - a request which I have yet to receive a response to.

So the conclusions I draw from this are "we're willing to talk about Byzantine Chant insofar as it's been blessed by the immortal Frank Desby" and "Byzantine music is okay if it's been transcribed into Western Notation". I'm sure Dr. Stefanidakis put in a lot of effort and is a nice man. I've heard him interviewed and he says we really need to have "traditional music" but my conclusion is that he doesn't know how to realize that, at least not yet.

The other conclusion one may draw from this is that the Forum feels that one may train themselves to chant through reading a manual. Books are extremely helpful as training aids (I've benefitted from several myself including Margaziotes, Savas Savas, a recent publication by Psilacos), but nothing will replace the fact that this is a tradition that requires some amount of apprenticeship under those learned in the tradition, without which issues of style, ekphrasis, ektelesis, yphos etc. go completely out the window. This notion of apprenticeship is very Orthodox - iconographers learn from other iconographers. We have Apostolic Succession to safeguard the teachings of our Faith. Why when it comes to music this is no longer the case?

- The National Forum's purpose has become the preservation of certain musical paradigms. If it supports "Church Music" in general, what role is it playing in the education of those Church musicians in how to understand and execute ALL services? Perhaps the National Forum may be more aptly named "The National Forum of Greek Orthodox Polyphonic Sunday Liturgy Singers" ?

As TimGabe points out - does the Forum leadership and the choirs under its auspices understand how to chant an Orthros service? Vespers? How about Pre-sanctified liturgy including the 9th hour and the Vespers with its variable pieces? What about Great and Small paraklesis?

On Thomas Sunday with its notoriously shorter orthros, we did our choir a favor by repeating some of the Ainoi to fill the time. Then on other days when the Orthros is longer, they mutter under their breath how the chanters "take too long" and (this was recently said, no joke) "because the chanters take too long people don't know when to show up to Church - they don't respect the tradition of liturgy beginning at 10am." How many people even understand that the liturgy doesn't begin until the priest proclaims "Blessed is the Kingdom..." (and not at the Doxology)? Even then choir members just float in late all the time. On Thomas Sunday when it was so important for the choir to do the Doxology we waited for a whopping 5 people to show up.

On Pentecost Sunday with the Doxa/Kai Nyn...O Basileu Ouranie...I wonder how many choirs and directors were expecting "Yperevelogemenee"? My parish's sure was because the director had no clue that if the Doxa and Kai Nyn are chanted together at the Doxastikon of the Praises it means the Doxology is next and there is no Theotokion. The liturgical guidebook, despite its merits, does not capture this and so the choir director awkwardly scrambles to get everyone ready.

I would go so far as to say that, it's not only Byzantine Music that the National Forum has no expertise in, but there's a general lack of leadership with respect to helping people understand the entire Typikon of services, and helping people understand that they're more than just a group of church volunteers that show up to sing Sunday morning. This more thorough understanding is really what is needed in order for one to be a true "Church Musician".

Anecdotally here is my understanding of two recent Regional Federation meetings:

-at a Mid-Eastern meeting which *should* have included representatives from ~100 parishes 7 people attended. Apparently most of the preceedings were a discussion about what music to sing at Liturgy for the following meeting.

- at the SF Metropolis meeting, 3 "meetings" supposedly took place. 1 for "Choirs" a 2nd for "Youth Choirs" and a 3rd for "Chanters". I'm not sure what efforts were made to disseminate information to the parishes, but I had no idea until after the fact that there was any sort of meeting for "chanters" and of course what published materials I did find had no mention of who was leading the discussion. Of course the highlight of the conference was a liturgy whose music was an artful assembly of hymns by both Zes and Desby.

At coffee hour this Sunday - "Great job chanting Liturgy today, hey do you know if we're going to get a new organist?" I responded "thanks, no I'm not sure if any progress has been made there, but we don't need an organist" "really, why?" I said "because we're Orthodox" "well I dunno, it's just what I'm used to growing up".

So there you have it - I understand that memories from ones childhood are important, but we don't come to Church to wax nostalgic and seek to rekindle memories of yesteryear. We're here to experience the Kingdom in the here and now - so let's attain the education we need to bring about a liturgical experience that accomplishes that goal.
 
Last edited:
#15
Dear Ross,

Even with stated support for Byzantine Music, the leadership of the Forum's notion of "support" for Byzantine Music seems fairly limited to "Frank Desby's Guide to transcribing Byzantine Chant in to Western Notation" as well as "John Velon's transcription of 10,000 hymns". With the former, the National Forum has an order form. I sent an e-mail asking if they would provide me with a sample - a request which I have yet to receive a response to.

So the conclusions I draw from this are "we're willing to talk about Byzantine Chant insofar as it's been blessed by the immortal Frank Desby" and "Byzantine music is okay if it's been transcribed into Western Notation". I'm sure Dr. Stefanidakis put in a lot of effort and is a nice man. I've heard him interviewed and he says we really need to have "traditional music" but my conclusion is that he doesn't know how to realize that, at least not yet.
Fair enough. And yet, I don't believe we need to reject even this nominal "support" of byzantine chant.

The other conclusion one may draw from this is that the Forum feels that one may train themselves to chant through reading a manual. Books are extremely helpful as training aids (I've benefitted from several myself including Margaziotes, Savas Savas, a recent publication by Psilacos), but nothing will replace the fact that this is a tradition that requires some amount of apprenticeship under those learned in the tradition, without which issues of style, ekphrasis, ektelesis, yphos etc. go completely out the window. This notion of apprenticeship is very Orthodox - iconographers learn from other iconographers. We have Apostolic Succession to safeguard the teachings of our Faith. Why when it comes to music this is no longer the case?
Apprenticeship - totally agree!

- The National Forum's purpose has become the preservation of certain musical paradigms. If it supports "Church Music" in general, what role is it playing in the education of those Church musicians in how to understand and execute ALL services? Perhaps the National Forum may be more aptly named "The National Forum of Greek Orthodox Polyphonic Sunday Liturgy Singers" ?

As TimGabe points out - does the Forum leadership and the choirs under its auspices understand how to chant an Orthros service? Vespers? How about Pre-sanctified liturgy including the 9th hour and the Vespers with its variable pieces? What about Great and Small paraklesis?

On Thomas Sunday with its notoriously shorter orthros, we did our choir a favor by repeating some of the Ainoi to fill the time. Then on other days when the Orthros is longer, they mutter under their breath how the chanters "take too long" and (this was recently said, no joke) "because the chanters take too long people don't know when to show up to Church - they don't respect the tradition of liturgy beginning at 10am." How many people even understand that the liturgy doesn't begin until the priest proclaims "Blessed is the Kingdom..." (and not at the Doxology)? Even then choir members just float in late all the time. On Thomas Sunday when it was so important for the choir to do the Doxology we waited for a whopping 5 people to show up.

On Pentecost Sunday with the Doxa/Kai Nyn...O Basileu Ouranie...I wonder how many choirs and directors were expecting "Yperevelogemenee"? My parish's sure was because the director had no clue that if the Doxa and Kai Nyn are chanted together at the Doxastikon of the Praises it means the Doxology is next and there is no Theotokion. The liturgical guidebook, despite its merits, does not capture this and so the choir director awkwardly scrambles to get everyone ready.
I can totally see each of these situations taking place, as I've had similar experiences as well. Thank you for sharing.

I would go so far as to say that, it's not only Byzantine Music that the National Forum has no expertise in, but there's a general lack of leadership with respect to helping people understand the entire Typikon of services, and helping people understand that they're more than just a group of church volunteers that show up to sing Sunday morning. This more thorough understanding is really what is needed in order for one to be a true "Church Musician".
This point of, "helping people understand that they're more than just a group of church volunteers that show up to sing Sunday morning" might even be more important than the music issue.

Anecdotally here is my understanding of two recent Regional Federation meetings:

-at a Mid-Eastern meeting which *should* have included representatives from ~100 parishes 7 people attended. Apparently most of the preceedings were a discussion about what music to sing at Liturgy for the following meeting.

- at the SF Metropolis meeting, 3 "meetings" supposedly took place. 1 for "Choirs" a 2nd for "Youth Choirs" and a 3rd for "Chanters". I'm not sure what efforts were made to disseminate information to the parishes, but I had no idea until after the fact that there was any sort of meeting for "chanters" and of course what published materials I did find had no mention of who was leading the discussion. Of course the highlight of the conference was a liturgy whose music was an artful assembly of hymns by both Zes and Desby.

At coffee hour this Sunday - "Great job chanting Liturgy today, hey do you know if we're going to get a new organist?" I responded "thanks, no I'm not sure if any progress has been made there, but we don't need an organist" "really, why?" I said "because we're Orthodox" "well I dunno, it's just what I'm used to growing up".

So there you have it - I understand that memories from ones childhood are important, but we don't come to Church to wax nostalgic and seek to rekindle memories of yesteryear. We're here to experience the Kingdom in the here and now - so let's attain the education we need to bring about a liturgical experience that accomplishes that goal.
Your new suggested name of "The National Forum of Greek Orthodox Polyphonic Sunday Liturgy Singers" would be fitting. I agree. And it pretty much sums up your review of The National Forum. So, wouldn't it therefore be reasonable for chanters and byzantine choirs to create their own National Forum? I suggested it in other posts recently, but it received no traction.

Sincerely,
Taso

 

Nikolaos Giannoukakis

Παλαιό Μέλος
#16
Mr Nassis writes:

wouldn't it therefore be reasonable for chanters and byzantine choirs to create their own National Forum?

In America, where everything and anything is permitted, it would be reasonable.

Would it be ecclesiastically appropriate though? What traditions would be followed? The Antiochian? The Russian? Those of the Ecumenical Patriarchate?

The membership of such a Forum would be diverse. Would material shared in discussion (musical material and practices) be appropriate in all jurisdictions? For example, would Slavonic melodies be appropriate in a monastic setting under the spiritual guidance of Fr. Ephraim? Or a Greek Orthodox Church under the aegis of the Ecumenical Patriarchate?

This forum, Mr. Nassis, already exists. It is called the St. John Damascus Society. The Society largely meets your criteria. It is an "ecumenical" forum where musical matters can be discussed, debated and where, in a secular setting, promoted and propagated.

However, this does not mean that the decisions of such a body are appropriate and even permitted by each of the ecclesiastic jurisdictions.

So, before you reinvent the wheel, please contact that group of wonderful people (http://www.johnofdamascus.org/).

However, if you want something that represents Byzantine Chant in the tradition of the Mother Church, in the manner that is directed by the Typika of the Mother Church and its long line of representatives, you first need to understand, accept, respect and obey the Mother Church's traditions, decisions and guidance, and then, given that such a body would be ecclesiastic in nature, get the blessing of (at least) the Synod of the Archdiocese of America.

Teaching Byzantine Chant for use in the churches of the Archdiocese of America has to have a foundation that is unseparated from that of the Mother Church. . There can be no innovations/deviations outside of that tradition. We either respect the Mother Church, or we have no business at the analogion.

NG.
 
Last edited:
#17
Mr Nassis writes:

wouldn't it therefore be reasonable for chanters and byzantine choirs to create their own National Forum?

In America, where everything and anything is permitted, it would be reasonable.

Would it be ecclesiastically appropriate though? What traditions would be followed? The Antiochian? The Russian? Those of the Ecumenical Patriarchate?

The membership of such a Forum would be diverse. Would material shared in discussion (musical material and practices) be appropriate in all jurisdictions? For example, would Slavonic melodies be appropriate in a monastic setting under the spiritual guidance of Fr. Ephraim? Or a Greek Orthodox Church under the aegis of the Ecumenical Patriarchate?

This forum, Mr. Nassis, already exists. It is called the St. John Damascus Society. The Society largely meets your criteria. It is an "ecumenical" forum where musical matters can be discussed, debated and where, in a secular setting, promoted and propagated.

However, this does not mean that the decisions of such a body are appropriate and even permitted by each of the ecclesiastic jurisdictions.

So, before you reinvent the wheel, please contact that group of wonderful people (http://www.johnofdamascus.org/).
Truly! I'm happy to say that I am familiar with this organization and am I a supporter of it. Yet I was discussing the existence of a National Forum focused specifically for byzantine chanters and byzantine choirs. Also, I'm not sure what you mean by "It is an "ecumenical" forum where musical matters can be discussed, debated and where, in a secular setting, promoted and propagated."

However, if you want something that represents Byzantine Chant in the tradition of the Mother Church, in the manner that is directed by the Typika of the Mother Church and its long line of representatives, you first need to understand, accept, respect and obey the Mother Church's traditions, decisions and guidance, and then, given that such a body would be ecclesiastic in nature, get the blessing of (at least) the Synod of the Archdiocese of America.
The main issue is whether or not there is any interest for such an organization. It might be more interesting to merely malign and accuse others. :rolleyes:

Teaching Byzantine Chant for use in the churches of the Archdiocese of America has to have a foundation that is unseparated from that of the Mother Church. . There can be no innovations/deviations outside of that tradition. We either respect the Mother Church, or we have no business at the analogion.
Of course! Yet this type of rhetoric loses sight of the fact that some views of what constitutes Tradition are more accurate than others. And whoever disagrees has ABSOLUTELY no business at the analogion ... :wink:

 

domesticus

Lupus non curat numerum ovium
#18
...
Teaching Byzantine Chant for use in the churches of the Archdiocese of America has to have a foundation that is unseparated from that of the Mother Church. . There can be no innovations/deviations outside of that tradition. We either respect the Mother Church, or we have no business at the analogion.

NG.
After many posts that's exactly the issue: The innovations/deviations outside of Megali Ekklisia tradition.

If someone follows as ''tradition'' opinions only forty-fifty yeas old and these are recently codemned by the Megali Ekklisia, how possible is for this person to understand and accept Mr Giannoukakis' views?
 

romanos4

Παλαιό Μέλος
#19
After many posts that's exactly the issue: The innovations/deviations outside of Megali Ekklisia tradition.

If someone follows as ''tradition'' opinions only forty-fifty yeas old and these are recently codemned by the Megali Ekklisia, how possible is for this person to understand and accept Mr Giannoukakis' views?
...and that's precisely why I have a problem with statements such as those I mentioned in my post from people who are clearly ignorant of the correct, historical Tradition in leadership positions within our churches.

I think something will have to happen eventually - but I'd maybe couch it in these terms: To hold a title of Protopsaltis, Lampadarios, Domestikos etc. has many implications - i.e. you have some minimum competency in several areas, knowledge of the typikon, how to put a service together, and how to execute that service. I *might* be the most knowledgeable person with respect to Byzantine Music at my parish - but I have never trained with a classically trained Psalti, I probably don't have "perfect" intervals in all cases, and, well, my Barys Diatonic and Agia could use work :) My point is, even though I contribute regularly to the musical program at my parish and can be relied upon to help ensure services run well, I'm not deserving of any such title.

Unfortunately the same standard has not been applied to choir directors (cf. the person who was until recently the choir director at the Cathedral in Chicago who, while he has an unfinished degree in Film Score composition from NYU, has never directed a choir or chanted at the analogion - but perhaps may have received his position by virtue of his father, a self-taught musician/composer - don't get me wrong, however, he's a very nice guy, and we're koumbari through marriage).

I'm pleased to say we have a very egalitarian analogion and are (at least I hope so) very welcoming and open to teaching people at my parish. This month of July has probably also helped people in my parish realize that their perceptions of chant might have been wrong - it's not just about a solo chanter crooning who loves to hear his own voice - but it can be a group of people.

I hope this will bring about a new openness to the idea that the authentic tradition of our Faith is something accessible - maybe at that point people will be open to understanding why it's so important.
 
Last edited:
#20
After many posts that's exactly the issue: The innovations/deviations outside of Megali Ekklisia tradition.
The topic of this thread is very clear. You might want to start a new topic.

If someone follows as ''tradition'' opinions only forty-fifty yeas old and these are recently codemned by the Megali Ekklisia, how possible is for this person to understand and accept Mr Giannoukakis' views?
I appreciate the post shared by romanos4 above, but what are you specifically discussing here? Opinions which are only 40-50 years old and are followed as "tradition"? And are recently condemned by the Megali Ekklisia?

Again, you might want to start a new thread to properly treat this issue which is irrelevant to this topic. Otherwise, there might be some confusion as to what you are discussing.

Afterall, "Mr. Giannoukakis' views" are very much his own. Which of his views should we seek to "understand and accept"? And why?

 
Top