“… I enjoyed the last album – a fair tribute to the blessed teacher Abraham Efthymiadis with the participation of the humble and coaghioreite and very dear Fr. Antipas…” 29.10.2019
“I will say it again, how happy I am with your blessed ministry of the art of chanting. Much more so when we hear the sweet voice of the beloved Fr. Antipas, remembering the musicologist Archon Abraham Efthymiadis from the festivals in Docheiari. ” 12.2019
“…the CDs are the fruit of your effort, hard work, and knowledge of our Byzantine Ecclesiastical Music and folk music Tradition, but above all, the abundance of your love and devotion to the ministry of the chanting art of our Orthodox Church.” 14.2.2019
“I congratulate you on what you have offered in this area which is not only quantitative but more qualitative. […] I pray that God gives you the strength to continue your precious ministry in the Church and especially in the field of the Byzantine musical tradition. ” 14.2.2019
“I would like to thank Mr. Konstantinos Angelidis, one of the few musicologists, and I pray that through strong health, he completes more musical events, as he is truly blessed.” 12.2019
“… continue your important contribution to the purpose of promoting our traditional Ecclesiastical Music…” Christmas 2019
“… I once again extend my sincere congratulations on this wonderful and commendable initiative of yours concerning the recording of hymnological monuments of our rich ecclesiastical tradition.” 11.11.2019
“… [your] generally high chanting presence, with which you faithfully continue in the ethos and prestige of those who bequeathed to us the chanting wealth and our long musical tradition…” 11.11.2019
“…I congratulate you on your new release and commendable musical contribution to the promotion of ecclesiastical music…” 27.11.2019
“…We would like to congratulate you on this work, which has contributed to the preservation of the musical tradition of our Eastern Orthodox Church.” 16.11.2019
“… With such commendable efforts as yours, [the musical tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church] becomes known to our people, at a time when our traditions and morals are in danger of extinction…” 16.11.2019
“… I congratulate you for your important contribution to the promotion of the beauty of our church music…” 12.2019
“… I wish you to continue your studies and research and to offer us your valuable knowledge and very creative creations…” 12.12.2019
“We enjoy, all the friends of the art of chanting in the world, your wonderful and rich chanting production.” 12.12.2019
“… To express our congratulations to you… A great man who contributes to the dissemination of so many and artful old and new musical texts and lessons …” 12.2019
“… the perfect and effortless, unpretentious performance [of the lessons] by cultivated voices …” 12.2019
“… the various musical texts become easier and more accessible and with less effort and time for each listener and connoisseur of music” 12.2019
“Wonderful work with quality and continuity!” 2019
“…Congratulations again on your excellent work.” 15.11.2018
“… Thank you very much for sending the two CDs entitled Classical Ecclesiastical Music and the amazing choral performance of the hymns of our Church. I congratulate you on the quality of your work, the respect for our tradition, and the display of its characteristic expressions, such as e.g. of the monk Synesius…” 4.1.2018
“…we confess that we are particularly pleased to see the fruitful fruits of your labors offered to the multitude of the faithful as an excellent delicacy, and much more so, as we distinguish in the ecclesiastical hymns the amount of your attachment to the extreme ecclesiastical life and tradition.” 30.5/12.6.2018
“… we praise the philotheon of your desire, that he sent us to write such hymns…” 30.5/12.6.2018
“…Your tribute to Romanos Melodos is remarkable. Congratulations on the effort you make with your choir members in the ‘TROPOS’ Byzantine choir…” 6.11.2018
“Congratulations on you and your partners’ remarkable efforts.” 7.6.2018
“… my congratulations on your love for our ecclesiastical music tradition…” 2.11.2018
“… Impressive creation, the printing, and, as always, execution.” 23.11.2018
Greece’s contribution with the TROPOS Byzantine Choir was distinguished by its very high artistic standards, and won the most favourable comments both on the part of the specialists and that of the initiated public, who crowded the church. Ministers of art … are the best representatives of Hellenic civilisation …
The programme of the ‘Twelve Days’ which you sang was exceptionally successful, and permitted the hearers to appreciate the magnitude of the quality, but also of your responsibility for the precise rendering and preservation of Byzantine music and hymnology. The Officiali – Archontes of the Ecumenical Patriarchate regard your work highly.
… a fine choir continuing tradition …
I congratulate you on the publication, and more generally for your contribution … to the cultivation of Byzantine music and of studies of the Cantor’s Art.
I listened and marvelled. Well done!
… such endeavours greatly contribute to the preservation and dissemination of genuine Byzantine traditional music.
We congratulate You on Your scholarly service by which You promote the treasures of our inexhaustible Byzantine tradition. You teach the Theological logos by means of melody …
… my pleasure and congratulations on the music and the aesthetic quality in general … of your undoubtedly laborious work …
Warmest congratulations on your major contribution to the preservation of traditional Byzantine music.
Your achievements are a musical and cultural contribution to the Byzantine Cantor’s Art, whose tradition you continue and promote in a pioneering way.
The TROPOS Byzantine Choir is a disciplined choir which remains an example for the present and the future for those who will concern themselves with the perpetuation and preservation of the traditions of the Orthodox Cantor’s Art.
… the publications demonstrate once again Your love for traditional music and Your sensitivity to the initiation of the young people of our homeland into the flourishing meadow of the cantor’s art.
THE EVENT AT THE ATHENS CONCERT HALL
WITH THE ‘TROPOS’ BYZANTINE CHOIR
by Mr Lykourgos Angelopoulos, First Cantor
The laudable initiative of the ‘Musical Ensembles’ of ERT [Greek Radio and Television] last December (with a concert of Byzantine music given by the ‘Tropos’ Byzantine Choir) happily had its sequel in the holding of a second event on the 27th of last March, again at the Athens Concert Hall – in the large hall of the ‘Friends of Music’ – with the same choir, entitled ‘From the Passion to the Resurrection’.
This second collaboration vindicated the initiative of ERT’s ‘Musical Ensembles’ and gave the public an evening of sublime spiritual enjoyment. This was because the ‘Tropos’ choir, the creation of the first cantor and teacher of the cantor’s art Constantinos Angelidis, presented a programme of Byzantine music of the greatest interest which included chants from the tradition of Petros Lampadarios (18th century) in the exegeseis of Hourmouzios Chartophylax, but also chants by earlier composers (the priest Balasios, 17th century) or some later ones, e.g., Matthaios Vatopedinos (18th – mid 19th century), Petros Philanthidis (19th – early 20th century), among them some hitherto unpublished.
In the first part, chants extending from Palm Sunday to Good Friday were interpreted. ‘Today, grace … ‘, Allelouiarion, ‘Behold the Bridegroom … ‘, ‘When the Lord came … ‘, ‘The sinful woman … ‘, ‘Today he hangs … ‘ were the chants sung in the first part. Last in this series was the Doxastikon of the aposticha of Vespers (service for the Descent from the Cross), ‘You who are clothed in Light … ‘ to the argo sticherarikon chant by the important composer and exegetes priest-monk Matthaios Vatopedinos.
The verses of the 118th Psalm (Amomos – ‘Blameless’) with the old melodies of the three staseis of the enkomia and the interpolation of the Epistle from Matins of Holy Saturday (intoned in the traditional manner by the very fine voice of Nikos Grizis) set the tone for the second part. For me, this was reminiscent of the unforgettable Holy Week services at the National Music Association with the late lamented Simon Karas, who most conscientiously observed this order of service and tradition, when all around him everything had been levelled down. Fortunately, in recent years, following a circular from His Beatitude, the singing of the Allelouiarion before the reading of the Gospel has been restored, and I hope that one day that the prokeimena and the verses of the Amomos with the enkomia will start to be sung as well.
The second part closed with the Communion Hymn of Easter – ‘Partake of the Body of Christ … ‘, a magnificent composition by the priest Balasios, which the choir rendered with particular skill.
In spite of the fact that it has been active for only two years, the ‘Tropos’ Byzantine Choir shows an exceptional homogeneity, with a smooth sound and a rhythmic stability. There is, of course, an explanation for this conclusion, which is at the same time a hope – for well-trained cantors in the future. The greater part of the choir consists of young cantors, and of these again the majority are pupils of the choirmaster Constantinos Angelidis at the school for Byzantine music of the Church of the Fount of Life in Athens, which is so vigorous in its teaching and productivity, where he teaches. This school, which is directed by the Protopsaltes Anastasios Mentakis, is a personal success and vindication in the face of many adversities of both teachers – Mentanis and Angelidis – and the Holy Archbishopric of Athens, to which in any event it belongs, should be proud of it.
Returning to this event, I would note that a remarkable impression was created by the fact that at certain points there was a scarcely perceptible transformation of the single choir into two, and then its equally imperceptible re-uniting. This movement of the choir was, apart from hearing the music, a visual pleasure. Equally resourceful was the part played by the two talented young canonarches (Yannis Angelidis and Yorgos Tsourapoulis), who also sang.
Constantinos Constantatos again showed great devotion in his role as canonarches in the monastic style.
I must also take the opportunity to congratulate the President of ERT, the Director of Sound Broadcasting, and the Director of ‘Musical Ensembles’ of ERT on the inclusion of the ‘Tropos’ Choir in the programmes of the ‘Musical Ensembles’, and I hope that this successful collaboration will continue.
This was an authentic occasion, a testimony and an example amid this chaos of ignorant and of exploitative singers, musicians, and those others who besiege us mostly by way of television and with emphasis on the days of great festivals and degrade the high level of our church music, thus undermining the treasury of our Nation handed down to us by our forefathers.
ST NICHOLAS, ARCHBISHOP OF MYRA
IN LYCIA, THE RENOWN
OF THE FATHERS
Singing of the ‘Tropos’ Byzantine Choir
Choirmaster: Constantinos A. Angelidis
The latest publishing endeavour of the ‘Tropos’ Byzantine Choir can be described as particularly painstaking and successful from every point of view. The zeal, labour, taste, and concern of the members of the ‘Tropos’ Byzantine Choir in preserving and making more widely known the Greek cantor’s art have been placed on record in their recent CD, which includes ecclesiastical chants from the service for St Nicholas, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia.
There are many reasons for describing this whole endeavour as painstaking and successful, and these have to do both with the approaches taken to the musical material of the hymns in their interpretation, and with the selection of mathemata sung. Thus we have at our disposal a recording which serves to fill, in a significant manner, a large gap in what has already been done in terms of recording, in sound and interpretation, the ecclesiastical chants from the service of St Nicholas.
In this CD, listeners are able to acquaint themselves with the composer Elder Daniil (1846 – 1929), who lived the ascetic life at Katounakia, an area of the Athonite commonwealth particularly well-known for its spiritual and artistic activities (icon-painting, chant, and woodcarving).
From the very first moment the composer’s talent of the Elder wins our attention – and for good reason. The noble simplicity which the discreetly artful elaboration of the melodic lines imparts and which the composer from Katounakia seems to employ in the chants sung here is based on theses of our tradition of the cantor’s art, a feature which serves to make apparent to us the uninterrupted nature of the evolution of our church music tradition.
The fact that we have made special reference to Elder Daniil does not mean that the rest of the composers whose works are included in the CD pass unnoticed. Iakovos Protopsaltes, as well as Panaghiotis Kiltzanidis and Petros Philanthidis are particularly well known in the Greek cantors’ family, and for this reason we have chosen to give more information about Fr Daniil Katounakiotis, who was until a short while ago unknown to many.
The challenge of the interpretation of the mathemata included on the CD has been met by ‘Tropos’ with its choirmaster and teacher Constantinos Angelidis. The variety of the traditional interpretative approaches which have been applied to the musical theses of the chants, the liturgical transpositions of the isokratemata by means of which all the changes of the tonal centres have been stressed and become intelligible, the harmonious rendering of the mathemata, the homogeneity of the volume of the sound, the manner in which the chromatic characteristics of each mode have been presented, and the correct musical space-time in which we hear each mathema interpreted justify the description of the whole endeavour of the ‘Tropos’ Byzantine Choir as successful and painstaking.
The CD includes the Dismissal Hymn of the Saint both in its heirmological form and in argo heirmological chant. The brief version is interpreted by Ioannis Angelidis and Georgios Tsourapoulis, whom we also hear as canonarches in other chants. The slow heirmological melodic and rhythmical identity of the chant is brought to us by the whole choir. This is followed by a sticheron prosomoion in the second mode, the first Doxastikon of Great Vespers, in the second plagal mode to a chant by Iakovos Protopsaltes, a selection of psalmodic verses addressed to St Nicholas, a chant by the Elder Daniil, in the plagal fourth mode, as well as the idiomelon ‘Well done, you good and faithful servant … ‘ from the order of Matins, in the second plagal mode. These chants serve to draw attention to the talent in the composition of chant of the priest-monk Daniil, who, in a particularly artful way in terms of chromatics portrays basic concepts of the poetic text with premeditated melodic climaxes which are presented to us skilfully and with particular elegance in the idiomelon mentioned above by Nikolaos Georgiou. His monody takes us along familiar as well as hitherto unknown pathways of acquaintance with the church music of our country.
A typical feature of the interpretative approach to the parts of the two canons of the Saint which are then presented is their faultless, exemplary rhythmic identity. The two mathemata which follow, the Doxastikon of the ainoi – the chant is by Petros Philanthidis – and the oktaechon mathema ‘The Rule of Faith’, a chant by Panaghiotis Kiltzanidis, certain melodic lines of which are strongly reminiscent of earlier composition work, bring before us parts of the wealth and the splendour of our cantor’s art – something which the ‘Tropos’ Byzantine Choir is able to decode and present in terms of sound with great success and expertise. The CD’s contents conclude with the megalynarion of the Saint, in the second mode, and it is with this chant that the musical tribute offered by ‘Tropos’ to him, as they carry all of us back, even if only for a few minutes, to the marvellous life and divinely-inspired work of St Nicholas, is completed.
It would be an omission, in conclusion, not to mention the exemplary recording made by Nikos Dionysopoulos, who has succeeded in this in respecting the demands made by our cantor’s tradition in giving music-lovers sounds free from those ‘effects’ which are alien to the requirements of that art.
Long may they continue the good work!
“Epiphany” – Critical Review by Sotiris Despotis
Aug 4, 2010
1 FEBRUARY 2008
Directed by Constantinos Angelidis
‘EPIPHANY’, A CONCERT OF BYZANTINE MUSIC
Sung by the ‘Tropos’ Byzantine Choir
By Sotirios K. Despotis, musicologist – composer
One of the most meticulous and impressive performances was given by the ‘Tropos’ Byzantine Choir led by the first cantor and teacher of the Greek cantor’s art Mr Constantinos Angelidis on Friday, 4 January, in the hall of the ‘Friends of Music’ at the Athens Concert Hall, with ecclesiastical hymns from the feast of the Epiphany.
A demanding programme which included compositions by: Matthaios Vatopedinos, Iakovos Protopsaltes, Petros Bereketis, Petros Lampadarios, Ioannis Protopsaltes, Georgios of Crete, and Georgios Vinakis was interpreted with complete success, and in this way presented a small part of the vast musical wealth which is typical of our tradition of chant.
The exceptionally interesting interpretative approaches which were applied to the ecclesiastical chants in conjunction with the recital of direction of a Byzantine church choir given by Mr Angelidis took us along familiar as well as unfamiliar pathways of a knowledge of our country’s music, demonstrating to us with great precision all the morphological features which characterise the musical material of each mathema in its individual musical space-time.
The alternation of the soloist with the choir, as we heard in the Communion Hymn of the feast, a typical effect which we encounter very frequently in mathemata of the Papadike, the appearance on the stage of two youngsters – a trust of the greatest importance for the future of our tradition of the cantor’s art – who took the part of canonarches for the poetic text from the sticheron idiomelon of the Lite ‘He who is clothed in light as in a garment‘, as well as the texts from chants of Matins of the Epiphany, the antiphonal setting with the division of the choir into two semi-choirs in chants such as the kathismata and the VIIIth Ode of the two canons of the Epiphany with the Megalynaria, and the superb monody of Mr Nikolaos Georgiou, who interpreted the troparion ‘When you were baptised in the Jordan, Lord … ‘ as that is sung during the veneration of the brethren at the Great Blessing, a composition by Matthaios Vatopedinos, served to stress and to remind us of some of the many technical characteristics of chant which mark our tradition of church music.
The whole occasion was divided into two parts. In the first, the kontakion for the eve of the feast ‘In the streams this day … ‘ was sung, and it was with this that the choir made its impressive and sudden entrance into the hall. This was followed by the Dismissal Hymn of the feast – ‘When you were baptised in Jordan, Lord‘, a composition proposed by Matthaios Vatopedinos, the melodic – rhythmic characteristics of which put it in the type of kalophonia. This was followed by the sticheron idiomelon from the Lite of the feast, ‘He who is clothed in light as in a garment‘ in the fourth sticherarikon mode, kathismata of the feast, and the sticheron idiomelon from Matins of Epiphany ‘All things this day …‘. The programme of the first part concluded with the VIIIth Ode of the two canons of the Epiphany with the Megalynaria.
The second part consisted of the following: the sticheron idiomelon ‘The true light has shown itself … ‘, in a setting of Matthaios Vatopedinos, the Doxastikon of the Ainoi ‘The waters of the Jordan …‘, from the Doxastarion of Iakovos Protopsaltes, a setting which was first heard here in a concert hall in this rendering by the ‘Tropos’ Byzantine Choir, the Communion Hymn of the feast ‘The saving grace of God for all mankind has appeared‘, set by Petros Bereketis, a work which was also being heard for the first time in a concert of ecclesiastical music, a Polyeleos for the feast of the Epiphany, as set by the first cantor Georgios Vinakis of Chios, and, finally, the well-known kratema in the first mode, an inspired creation of Georgios of Crete.
The variety of the interpretative approaches which have been applied to the musical theses of the mathemata, the ways in which the phenomenon of entasis – lysis of the melodic tensions in the musical phrases was handled in sound terms, the processes by which the climaxes of the chant were created, the homogeneity of the volume of the sound, the premeditated transpositions of the tonal centres, the very discreet, but at the same time very liturgical, presence of the isokratema line in relation to the evolution of the melody, and the melodious rendering of all the ecclesiastical chants – these are some of the factors which contributed to the success of the occasion.
Even though it is difficult, and probably unfair, to pick out one or some of the chants which were heard, we cannot omit a mention, albeit a brief one, of the well-known troparion of the feast of the Epiphany ‘When you were baptised in the Jordan, Lord … ‘, a chant set by Matthaios Vatopedinos of Ephesus, and of the sticheron idiomelon ‘The true Light has shown itself … ‘, a work by the same composer. These compositions serve not only to draw attention to the talent of Matthaios Vatopedinos, which by means of this concert has been made known even more to the community of cantors, and more generally to the world of music-lovers, but to be superb examples of the ways by which the musical development of the poetic texts of these mathemata has been achieved.
In hearing, and then rapidly analysing these two proposals for settings, we are astonished by the means by which Matthaios Vatopedinos develops the musical material of the mathemata. In the case of the first of these, we note the process by which the musical space of the mathema by means of slow, artful and strongly melismatic movements expands to the point of climax of the line of the chant, which is stressed by a series of marked rhythmic changes. The whole melodic development is emphasised by the frequent skilful changes in the modes, a feature which chromatically enriches the chant. In the second case, we were taken by surprise by the sudden transposition of the line of the chant effected by seven voices in the upper Pa, thus opening up the musical space of the mathema from the very beginning. Then a series of melodic transpositions, such as, for example, to an antiphonal agia in lower Di, to varys, to the second plagal mode of the ‘hard’ sound, etc., also succeeded from the point of view of quality of sound in enriching the musical material of the mathema, while at the same time stressing in this way words from the poetic text.
I think that everyone who was present on Friday evening in the great hall of the Athens Concert Hall experienced at close quarters the majesty which lies concealed in our heritage of cantorship. It was not a matter of chance that as I was leaving the building, I heard a minister of the Most High confide to his wife that what he had heard in there helped him to pray …
1998: ” … various well-known or self-ordained individuals presenting themselves as experts. My dear brother, may God forgive me, but it seems to me that the motive for all this opposition is only and solely envy, which, unfortunately, as we know from experience, ‘affects even the perfect’, with ‘why him and not me?’ as its result, and is concealed under the cloak of piety and tradition … . To ‘rejoice with those who rejoice’ – Elder Païsios once said to me – requires more nobility of the soul than to ‘weep with those who weep’! Therefore, may God bless You in the continuation of Your cantor’s service. Our Church, in the last analysis, doesn’t brush anyone away … It accepts the ‘experts’, and condescends to the ‘ignorant’ … What are we to say?”
And later, in 2003: “I have the most profound regard for your service and labours in the cause of our church music; do not bend under the envious and carping judgements of the ‘specialists’. You must say ‘God has chosen the foolish things of this world’, and the blessing of the Lord will be very rich on the works of your hands!”
Dear Mr Angelidis,
Christ is Risen
I thank you for the CDs, and especially for the most recent, the ‘Athonite Theotokos’, which you were kind enough to send me. As I write to you, I am listening to this and I find rest and peace in the blessed service which you and your associates perform for the Church. When, in 1992, I attended the feast of St Evdokimos of Vatopaidi, I heard you and took pleaure in the standards and style of your singing. May Our Lady Portaïtissa strengthen you in your personal strivings and in your efforts for the promotion of Byzantine music.
With love in the Lord
† Archimandrite Nathanail
Many and boundless congratulations … on having the ability and the gift to do what you can, and your reward from the Lord will be very great. I pray that with your fine efforts our immortal Byzantine music will reach again its great worth and glory. Your fine zeal is from God, for that reason, you do everything … .
The whole work is first-class … boundless and many congratulations on your great service and many labours … .
I have received the fruit of your fine efforts in the expression of genuine chants from our ecclesiastical tradition. I heartily congratulate you and hope that you will continue in the same way, or even better – if such a thing is possible. It is perfect.
I follow at a distance all your efforts in drawing attention to our church music, and rejoice that you are pioneers in this fine task. The fruits are already apparent and will prove better in the future and beneficial for our liturgical practice, which is sometimes afflicted by ignorance, egotism, and actions contrary to tradition on the part of all of us … .
We offer our congratulations on the fruitful recording which is drawing out of oblivion the long Constantinopolitan tradition which is so important for the revitalisation of the life and the worship of the Orthodox world, while at the same time also being a fine contribution to the world of Byzantine musicology.
A very good publication and painstaking work. Many congratulations. I liked particularly the last kratema of ‘We magnify you … ‘
My congratulations on many things.
On the fact that they were dedicated to His All-Holiness our Ecumenical Patriarch.
On the rarity of the melodies.
On your tireless labours.
You have become, brother in Christ, a hunting-dog sniffing out old melodies buried by oblivion.
Well done, and again well done!
Congratulations on the musical achievements, and thank you for the records of ‘our own’ composers!
We thank you for sending the successes of your studies and toils, in your successful creation ‘Composers of Constantinople’.
I congratulate you on the elegant publication and the outstanding rendering of the chants.
Warmest thanks and deserved praise for Your valuable contribution to the Church by Your many years of service at the divine music-stand, in education and letters, and to traditional Byzantine music in general.
Congratulations on your work, the fruit of your labours for traditional Church Music and the people of the City …
‘The Music of the Angels’ filled us with divine rejoicing … allow me to congratulate you on your valuable contribution to the Church and to Byzantine music.
Warmest thanks … congratulations on Your entire contribution to our church music …
Dear Mr Constantinos Angelidis
I herewith congratulate you on the recent publication of the CD entitled Constantinopolitan Composers. This publication contributes to filling a large gap in the discography of our church music, since what is missing from it are themed tributes to groups of composers, and particularly those concerned with the ancient patriarchal tradition, disputed and claimed by many (as it should be, as a precious heritage, on the one hand, and as a treasure undefended against plundering by looters of antiquities, as it should not be, on the other). This genuine tribute of yours to renowned Constantinopolitan, as to style certainly (and in origin in the case of the majority) Composers does them honour and is a unique proposal, clearly giving a faithful rendering of the chants interpreted, without a sterile fixation on the letter of the chant’s text, but with a discerning interpretation of its spirit and body (following the familiar old distinction of our musical notations), supplying something which was lacking (with certain brilliant exceptions who taught the younger among us, but were opposed in principle) from today’s discography of Contantinopolitan music, that is, of course, choral music.
With good wishes for your health and happiness
The Music of the Angels
Sung by the TROPOS Byzantine Choir
Choirmaster: Constantinos A. Angelidis
89,5 Radio Station of the Church of Greece
TROPOS Byzantine Choir
This is another noteworthy production of the TROPOS Byzantine Choir, which during the last five years has made its presence felt within and outside Greece. Its choirmaster, Constantinos Angelidis, is a first cantor and student of Byzantine music well-known throughout the Greek world who distinguished himself in the Hellenic Byzantine Choir of Lykourgos Angelopoulos, but also in his individual work, such as the training and teaching of the choir of the Vatopaidi Monastery on Mount Athos, with which he recorded and issued a number of CDs. He has become known to the wider public by his broadcasts on the Radio Station of the Church of Greece, one of the sponsors of the present production.
The Music of the Angels is a new work which, on the one hand, continues the artistic proposals of previous productions, and, on the other, skilfully creates a bridge between them. This is because next to the chants from the Athonite tradition (though which the choirmaster and his choir have become more widely known) it puts compositions from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. If, then, we bear in mind that the last two productions concerned, respectively, the Holy Mountain of Athos (‘The Theotokos of Athos’, 2009) and Constantinople (‘Constantinopolitan Composers’, 2011), the present production (‘The Music of the Angels’) is drawn from both these spiritual and artistic centres of Hellenism, which, in any event, have kept pace with and complemented each other throughout the history of the Greek Orthodox race.
More specifically, the Athonite tradition is represented by compositions which cover three centuries, beginning with Ioasaph Dionysiates (polyeleos ‘Servants … their Lord …’, ‘Everything that has breath … ‘), who flourished in the first half of the nineteenth century (†1866), continuing with Meletios Sykeotis (Doxology in the Second Mode), who entered his repose on the expiry of the previous century (†2000), and concluding with the very young Theophanes Vatopaidinos (‘Blessed is the man … ‘), who continues the tradition of the older Fathers (b. 1977). The Athonite compositions with a named author are accompanied by chants from the oral tradition of Mount Athos (Evlogetaria of Sundays in the First Mode, stichologia of Ainoi in the Third Mode), which have clearly been transcribed by the choirmaster.
The tradition of Constantinople, on the other hand, is also articulated in three centuries, starting out from the seventeenth with the patriarchal priest and Nomophylax Balasios (communion hymn ‘Praise … ‘ in the Fourth Mode), who lived in the second half of the seventeenth century, and ends in the nineteenth with the first cantor of the Patriarchal Church Constantinos (anastasima stichera of the Ainoi in the Third Mode), who was more or less a contemporary of Ioasaph Dionysiates (†1862). Particular mention should be made of the dogmatikon theotokion in the First Mode (‘In the Red Sea … ‘), which is said to be a chant by John of Damascus (eighth century), but was published in the new notation a little after the middle of the nineteenth century (1968) in a transcription of Hourmouzios Chartophylax (one of the three teachers of the new method). Although in the accompanying pamphlet it is said that the work takes us to the psaltic tradition of the thirteenth – early fourteenth century, its genuineness has not yet been verified.
As to the issue of interpretation, apart from the painstaking rendering of the chants, at least three points deserve attention and commendation:
1. The interpretation of the papadika chants (‘In the Red Sea … ‘, ‘Praise the Lord … ‘) is not hurried and in a fast tempo, despite the fact that the chants are fairly lengthy (12:33 and 19:54, respectively). This phenomenon is not common in Greek recordings, where most (and better known) choirs choose a fast interpretation of the arga chants, clearly so as not to tire the listeners and not to use up the available time (and space) on the disc. ‘Tropos’, however, is in no hurry in the arga chants, and this is in accordance with the Athonite tradition and the structure and development of the chants, which lose their beauty with a fast tempo.
2. In spite of the fact that the choir follows the proposal of the late Simon Karas as to the constant isokratema with few alternations, nevertheless the analysis of the so-called ‘qualitative’ semadia is not affected and does not depart from the corresponding traditions (Athonite and Constantinopolitan) as those have come down to us today. The choirmaster can be seen to be very careful as to when and how each semadi of expression (petaste, antikenoma, vareia, etc.) will be executed, given that he is directing a large choir (of 35 members). His interpretation is a marriage of the monastic and the secular manner of execution (reminding us of the corresponding need to bridge the gap between the monastic and secular order of the services).
3. Apart from the self-evident importance which the setting down and recording of old ecclesiastical chants has, the production has also included compositions which could serve as contemporary proposals for the enrichment and renewal of the church music repertoire. Two of these chants (the Evlogetaria and the Doxology) would make wonderful replacements for the corresponding compositions which are usually heard in churches: the ‘funereal’ brief evlogetaria which have prevailed (something which is also suggested in the accompanying pamphlet) and the doxology of Cosmas Madytinos in the chromatic Fourth Plagal Mode (which is used as an arge doxology in the Second Plagal Mode).
As regards the form of publication of the production, attention should be drawn to the commentary on the music (‘Commentary on the Chants Sung’), which explains to the listener in a way which is easy to understand certain technical details of the compositions, the ‘Poetic Text of the Hymns’, and the impressive account of the history and work of the Choir and of its choirmaster. The production is marked, as we have come to expect of ‘Tropos’, by exceptionally tasteful printing and layout. A translation into English (or even a summary) of the texts would complete the positive image of the publication and would make it possible for the non-Greek listener to enjoy the superb melodies of the Byzantine musical tradition.
 It should be noted that a mathema by Ioasaph Dionysiates (‘In giving birth you retained your virginity … ‘) is included in the previous production (‘The Theotokos of Athos’).
 See Dimitrios K. Balageorgou, The Psaltic Tradition of Services of the Byzantine Secular Typikon [in Greek], Athens 2001, Meletai 6 (doctoral thesis).
We have received your CDs and have listened to them attentively – very fine, congratulations. I congratulate you on your zeal for the divinely-inspired, immortal music of Byzantium. My hope is that you will continue with the same zeal, because we are the offspring of a great history, of great figures, and it is this tradition which we must revive; for this reason you deserve many congratulations …
Katounakia, Mount Athos, 19 December 2011
We experience spiritual joy each time that we are partakers of Your constantly progressing and creative presence in the field of our traditional Byzantine church music, which is strongly influenced by the centuries-old Athonite psaltic tradition, something which also constitutes a distinctive difference from other church choirs.
In taking pleasure in hearing the content of the CD ‘The Music of the Angels’, on Your responsibility and under Your direction, we express our warmest congratulations and hope for the fruitful continuation of Your overall service to the Church with your beloved and tuneful fellow-choristers of ‘Tropos’.
HOLY STAVROPEGIC AND COENOBITIC MONASTERY OF KORONI
Your efforts are truly praiseworthy, because by means of them chants which were unknown, as they have been hitherto unpublished and have remained in the vaults of our tradition without anyone knowing of them, are coming to the surface, and so by your efforts are beginning to become known.
Thus the whole of the work is of the greatest interest and is truly beautiful, while the execution of the pieces is exceptional.
In observing the course You have followed in the cantor’s art, we see that You follow faithfully that musical tradition which through the centuries has been shaped by the great Music Teachers of the Great Church, and this is of major importance: for us to function within tradition.
We thank you warmly for the CD ‘The Music of the Angels’, the angelic melody which truly rejoices and delights our hearings and hearts.
‘The Music of the Angels’ is truly music of angels from angelic mouths …
A sound experience of high-level performance and musical skill. With a sense of responsibility towards our tradition. It is a continuation and succession of epochs which tend to be forgotten …
‘The Music of the Angels’ is a further example of your successful immersion in traditional church music.
I always follow your creations, which are of the highest quality, and I congratulate you on giving yourselves unsparingly in order to draw attention to our Byzantine tradition.
I have received the gifts of your love and the labours of talent … the CDs are marvellous; they have won the love of the students of our theological school.
… we thank and congratulate Mr Constantinos Angelidis and the distinguished members of the ‘TROPOS’ Byzantine Choir of Cantors for the sweetest of fruits which they have given to us.
The ‘TROPOS’ Byzantine Choir, directed and taught by Constantinos Angelidis, brings to public worship like fragrant incense poetry elect in holiness, set by older and more modern composers.
… you allow me to share in the first-class result … I wish you many years from the Lord and inspiration for new performances in the musicological firmament …
With regards and thanks
the worthless and least of all
“I congratulate you on many things.
On your dedication to His All Holiness, our Ecumenical Patriarch.
On the perfect execution.
On the selection of musical rarities.
On your hard work.
You became like the hound, brother in Christ,
looking for old and forgotten melismas.
Thou hast done well!” 3.5.2011
“We express our appreciation for your good offering.”
“Dear Constantinos is one of the best representatives of this tradition, and the choir today filled us all of catanyxis and made us once more be sure that the tradition of our Patriarchate will not disappear…” 2014
“We would like to congratulate you on this work, which has contributed to the preservation of the musical tradition of our Eastern Orthodox Church. […] With such commendable efforts as yours, [the musical tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church] becomes known to our own people, at a time when our traditions and morals are in danger of extinction.” 16.11.2019
“…The Byzantine Choir TROPOS entered the stage with Constantinos Angelidis as director; and the space, as our souls, was filled with well-tuned sounds and correct intervals in a beautiful selection of classic mathemata of our ecclesiastical tradition.”
“Congratulations on your distinctive creativity and sensitivity regarding the preservation and dissemination of our Fathers’ church music…” 5.2011
“Congratulations on the quality of your work and your dedication to our Mother Church.”
“Glykes, Chrysaphes, Balasios, Bereketes, Ioannes and Chourmouzios the Archivist are the ‘sacred monsters,’ so to speak, of our musical tradition, but not few of their works remain unedited and inaccessible to many. This makes your efforts consequential and praiseworthy, and we wish the best for the future.”
“Your tribute to Romanos the Melodist is remarkable. Congratulations on the efforts you and your chorists make at TROPOS Byzantine Choir…”
“I congratulate you for your important contribution to the promotion of the beauty of our church music…” 12.2019
“I congratulate you on your wonderful activity on ecclesiastical Art of Chant.”
“We wish that Saint Athanassios, the founder of athonite monasticism, is ambassador for you to the Lord, so that you may always be able to perform and present as carefully our precious Byzantine music for consolation, for the building of souls, and for the glory of the Trinitarian God.” 6.2014
“The work, the printing, and as always the performance are magnificent…” 23.11.2018
“…these CDs are the fruit of your hard work and knowledge of our Ecclesiastical Byzantine Music and Folk Tradition, but above all the reflection of your love and devotion to the high service of the psaltic art of our Orthodox Church. […] I congratulate you on what you have offered in the field not only quantitatively, but mostly qualitatively. […] I wish God gives you the strength to continue your precious ministry in the Church and especially in the field of Byzantine musical tradition.” 14.2.2019
“It is impossible to listen to Costas Angelidis conducting TROPOS Byzantine Choir and not feel catanyxis filling your heart. […] Every time I listen to TROPOS’ work (live at the Athens Concert Hall or recorded), I silently wish to God to empower and enlighten my beloved Choirmaster and the devout members of TROPOS, who do not perform professionally and blandly, but chant with heartful reverence and devotion…” 4.12.2012
… I congratulate you, because here is an expression of the disposition of soul of Byzantium, Orthodoxy, and Greekness …
with best wishes and regards
I congratulate you warmly on your serious and traditional work and I pray that the Lord will grant you health and many years for you to continue your task, which is valuable and pleasing to him.
Costas Angelidis has been a friend of mine for almost 30 years. I was on his left at St Eustathius. We went our separate ways artistically, but deep in my soul my love for him, but above all my admiration for his character has remained.
From his early years, he has been marked by his gentleness and his devotion to the study of Byzantine church music.
His relation with music after years of study and of constant explorations of the various trends in expression which give Byzantine music its beauty, as well as his training in theory, have made it possible for him, together with his associates, to make an important contribution of knowledge and inspiration.
The ‘TROPOS’ Byzantine Choir is a choir with high artistic standards.
I have listened to their recordings and the concerts they have given with great satisfaction.
The basic characteristic of the ‘TROPOS’ Choir is that it registers a comprehensive proposal which respects the distillation of research as that has been set down with the passage of time with increasing clarity, and at the same time gives to the listener who is a friend of Byzantine music the pleasure which he seeks, thanks to the melodious chants and the absolutely disciplined whole.
My wish for the members of ‘TROPOS’ is that they will always have the joy of working in this way and bringing us the fruits of their knowledge and talent.
Dear Mr Angelidis,
Allow me to congratulate in your person all who have played a part in producing what is from every point of view a successful result.
I must congratulate you from the bottom of my heart on many things:
On the choice of the dedication: the ‘Fathers of Athos and angels in the body’ are for Orthodoxy the shining lights of which we have today more need than ever before. The service for them is not sung ‘in the world’ and it is a good opportunity for anyone who has not had the good fortune to be on the Holy Mountain on their feast day to have a taste of it – albeit small.
On the choice of the chants: Ioasaph Dionysiatis and Matthaios Vatopaidinos, themselves pupils of great teachers of music and cantors, are among the most important modern composers of the early nineteenth century who combine their considerable talent with an authentic knowledge which they derive from the tradition of the three great teachers and exponents of the New Method.
On the interpretation of the hymns: TROPOS has already reached, with a knowledge and many years of serious study of our church music and psalmody, a very high level of interpretation, which permits it to take on, with exceptional success, composers who are ‘giants’, with ‘mathemata‘ which make very great demands.
On the invitation extended to solo exponents: Yannis Papachronis and Yannis Hasanidis, among our best cantors at the present time, harmoniously combine what they learnt at the Athoniada School with the fine theoretician Meletios Sykeotis and the outstanding cantor Deacon Dionysis Firfiris with their own individual studies, and have arrived at an enviable depth of interpretation.
Wishing you continued success.
I am moved every time that I receive the splendid spiritual gifts … The recent publication of the two CDs devoted to the service for the holy Athonite Fathers is a culmination for the career of the Centre and of the Byzantine Choir, which has been short but filled with works. Truly, in this work theology is combined essentially with true art, as Nikolaos, Metropolitan of Mesogaia and Lavreotike – always inspired in the Faith – observes.