Music – Choral and Chant
“If the sounds of music evoke in you calm, pure, holy sentiments—listen to them and nourish your soul.”
St John of Kronstadt
Soma Christou Virtual Choir
Are you an S, A, T, or B?
Current members… ASSEMBLE!
Prospective members… do you sing well, do you read music, do you play well with others? Two out of three? You may be worthy!
A new Liturgical year has arrived! I invite anyone who has been bestowed with a musical gift of singing, or who has ever sung in a choral ensemble, to join our Senior Choir. This is your opportunity to serve the entire congregation with your talents by giving back the gift God has given you. We want to maintain and continually develop a spiritual and stellar choral sound for our St. Mary’s congregation. This depends on the prayerful, whole hearted participation of any and all singers who have been given good voices and are willing to make a commitment.
It is such a privilege to sing and chant the amazing texts and melodies of our Liturgies & Sacraments. By joining us in the choir loft, you will be allowing the Holy Spirit to use your voice for the enhancement of every parishioner’s worship experience. You will be blessed!
From St. John Chrysostom, “Nothing elevates the soul, nothing gives it wings as a liturgical hymn.”
From St. Basil the Great, “While your tongue sings, let your mind search out meaning of words, so that you might sing in spirit and sing also in understanding.”
Thespina Macres, Music Director
Announcements and News
Explore what it means to be striving for an American Orthodox musical tradition.
Byzantine Chant Melody and Notation Class
From Reader Nicholas Wesche about an exciting opportunity at St. Elizabeth’s OCA: Over the past year I have been studying byzantine chant melody and notation with Fr. Eugene, a Heiromonk from Crete. It is a beautiful and engaging way to activate your brain, voice and worship! With the blessing of Fr. Marc Boulos, I would like to pass on everything I have learned, and will be learning, to anyone who is interested! The biggest focus will be on learning the eastern nuemes notation. If you would like to participate, please email ([email protected]) or call/text (612-219-1897). Once I finalize the student roster and schedule, I will send out an announcement.
Class Schedule on MeetUp.
2023 Choir Conference – Friday September 29 – Sunday October 1
The Chicago Metropolis Music Federation and Sts Constantine & Helen Church Choir invites you to the 2023 Choir Conference.
- 11025 S Roberts Rd, Palos Hills, IL 60465-2317. Tel: 708-974-3400
- Mark your calendars. Watch here for information as it becomes available.
Word Challenge – Suggest a better name!
Kontakion – “From the Pole” is devoid of meaning.
- Etymology: Middle Greek kontakion, literally, scroll, probably diminutive of Late Greek kontak-, kontax pole, from Greek kontos.
- A Kontakion (also kondakion, kondak, and kontak; plural kontakia, kondakia) is a type of thematic hymn in the Orthodox Church and other Eastern Christian churches. Originally, the kontakion was an extended homily in verse consisting of one or two proemia (preliminary stanzas) followed by several strophes called oikoi (also ikoi; singular oikos, ikos), usually between 18 and 24. The kontakia were so long that the text was rolled up on a pole for use in the services – the genesis of the name kontakion, which means “from the pole” in Greek. It is typical of the form that each of the proemia and strophes end with the same refrain. Acrostics are also a hallmark of this hymnographic form. In current practice, the kontakion has been greatly abbreviated. Only the (first) proemium and first strophe are sung or read after the sixth ode of the canon at orthros. The proemium alone is sung at the Divine Liturgy, following the troparia, and most other services of the daily cycle. The kontakion is not sung at vespers.
Announcing St Mary’s Choir 2022/23 Season
Openings in all voice parts.
Our senior choir provides musical responses and hymns for our Sunday Divine Liturgies throughout the year, as well as Christmas Eve, Holy Friday & Pascha Midnight services. We sing mostly in English alternating with some Greek and maintain a Byzantine ethos in almost all of our hymnology.
A 10 minute audition is required. Please contact Thespina Macres, 952-239-8460, [email protected]
Policies & Requirements for ALL members of St. Mary’s Choir
- Audition Required.
- No more than 5 absences (Sunday or Wednesday) in any given session.
- Session 1 – September thru December, 2022.
- Session 2 – January 25 thru May, 2023.
- Choir sings the Sunday Liturgy (9:30 am) with call time at 9:20 am for Doxology.
All required rehearsals are scheduled Wednesday evenings, 6:30 to 8:00 pm, for Sessions 1 & 2 with a time change, 7:10 to 8:45 pm, during Great Lent.
- Session 1: Wednesday, September 21 thru December 25, 2022.
- Session 2: January 25 thru June 4, 2023.
Time & Talent Spotlight – Chanting
An Interview with Deanna Kolas
How long have you been serving St. Mary’s on the Chanting Team?
It’s been a little over a year now.
What was it that led you to first serve by chanting?
Chanting was something I’ve been interested in for a long time. I’ve been singing since I was in middle school. When I got to high school, I realized that chanting could be a way for me to give back to the church while doing something I really enjoy. At the time, I didn’t really have the resources or someone to guide me in learning, so I put a pause on it then. As I got older, my cousin Evie invited me one day to stand up with her during a Vespers service. She guided me through the service and made me feel more comfortable. Now as a part of the Chanting Group, I’ve learned so much from Thespina, Dan, and Joanna as they have taken me under their wing.
How often do you chant?
Usually once or twice a week, typically for the Matins or Orthros before Liturgy. When I can, I also like to chant for Vespers on Saturday nights.
Do you have a favorite memory associated with this serving experience?
We had a young adult event at St. Mary’s on a night I was scheduled to chant. At first, I was nervous to be chanting in front of all these young adults that I know! But it was really fun, because when I got to the service, I invited some of the other young adults to chant with me. A few were from other parishes, and even though each church chants in a slightly different way, we were able to come and chant together which was a beautiful experience.
If someone else was interested in serving by chanting, what would you say to them to help try to convince them?
I would say if you’re interested in it, it’s a beautiful way to give back to the church. People really appreciate it and there is always a need. We appreciate having a lot of people to help because there are always services going on at the church. It can be hard at first and intimidating and scary, but everyone who chants alongside you and who listens to the chanting is really understanding, forgiving, and encouraging. It’s always going to be a learning experience. Chanting is a beautiful way to connect with your faith and give back to the church.
Who should someone contact if they want to learn more about chanting?
Thespina Macres, [email protected]
2022 Annual Federation Conference, September 16-18, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Oak Lawn, IL.
National Church Music Sunday, October 2, 2022
NATIONAL CHURCH MUSIC SUNDAY is a day we set aside particularly to honor the contributions of local choir members, psaltai, and music educators who serve their churches through the hymnology of our Orthodox Church. In addition, it is a day when we recognize the work of the diocesan choir federations as well as the National Forum of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians, who through their music ministry, strive to enhance the development of church choirs, church musicians, and liturgical music at diocesan and archdiocesan levels.
Senior Choir - SATB Liturgical Choral Singing
The choir is a group of talented and enthusiastic members singing primarily 4-part choral arrangements of liturgical music. Music by composers such as Kevin Lawrence, Anna Gallos, Michael Petrovich, Frank Desby, Hadzinicolau, Nick Maragos, John Revezoulis, and others.
Events - Choir Conferences, Education, & Fellowship
Singing together creates a strong family-like bond. This is clearly felt as choir members participate in events outside of the choir loft. Some of these events include:
- Annual Chicago Metropolis Choir Conference. St. Mary’s choir members have enjoyed traveling together to various host parishes throughout the five state area. Three days of intense rehearsals, workshops, and fellowship culminate in a Sunday Liturgy choir with over 100 singers. Our St. Mary’s choir is often the largest group in attendance!
St. Mary’s Choir hosted the following Choir Conferences at St. Mary’s:
- 1969 Tikey Zes directing his composition
- 1980 Presbytera Anna Gallos directing her composition
- 1990 Presbytera Anna Gallos directing another of her compositions
- 2001 Thespina Macres directing Nick Maragos composition
- 2015 Chris Kypros directing his composition “Liturgy of Hope”
- Educational Workshops. Throughout the years, the choir has sought out continuing education, above and beyond the weekly rehearsals. One example, perhaps the most challenging, was a Byzantine Notation workshop by Jessica Suchy Pilalis.
- Community Outreach. Small groups from the choir have volunteered at a local homeless shelter cooking and serving food.
- An almost annual summer choir picnic
- Singing on a float in the Winter Holidazzle Parade (only once, brrr!)
- Fundraising by selling baklava in the State Fair Food Building
- Hosting the Palm Sunday Luncheon for our parishioners
- Hosting many fundraising Glendis
- Annual Christmas gathering
- Much more than can be listed
Two vinyl LPs and most recently a CD. Planning to transfer the LPs to CD in the near future.
Four St. Mary's choir members attended our 2021 Annual Conference hosted by St. Andrew in South Bend, IN, on October 7-10.
63rd Church Music Conference
Federation of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians, Chicago Metropolis
Four St. Mary’s choir members attended our 2021 Annual Conference hosted by St. Andrew in South Bend, IN, on October 7-10. A relatively small group of singers from parishes throughout the Chicago Metropolis assembled to sing the Divine Liturgy arranged by Presbytera Anna Gallos. Nick Chimitris, President of both our Federation and the National Forum, directed.
A special highlight – Our own Elena Biessener was awarded the Patriarch Athenagoras Medal for Metropolis Service (the medalion on the blue ribbon)! This award, developed by the National Forum, is presented by each Metropolis Federation to “a recipient who significantly contributed talents and/or service to the development and perpetuation of the Greek Orthodox Church Musicians to the Chicago Metropolis.” Elena has been a long standing member of our choir, a Federation Board member for 18 years, a participant of four Flash Choirs throughout the Chicago Metropolis, and chair of our 2015 Conference hosted here at St. Mary’s. Congratulations Elena!
Congratulations to St. Mary's choir member, Eleni Ciuta, who was awarded a $500 scholarship made possible through the Michael B. Petrovich Memorial Scholarship Fund
Michael B Petrovich Memorial Scholarship
Federation of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians, Chicago Metropolis
Congratulations to St. Mary’s choir member, Eleni Ciuta, who was awarded a $500 scholarship made possible through the Michael B. Petrovich Memorial Scholarship Fund, which is administered by the Chicago Diocese Federation and recognizes the importance of educating and training its church musicians. Eleni graduated from Roseville Christian Homeschool Academy (2021) with a GPA of 3.96. She plans to attend the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with her expected areas of study to be music (viola) and chemical engineering. She has received many awards throughout her high school years including being a violist in the Symphony Orchestra at the U of M.
Each year, on the first Sunday in October (on or after the Feast of St. Romanos the Melodist, the patron saint of church musicians), parishes across the Archdiocese of America celebrate National Church Music Sunday.
National Church Music Sunday – October 3, 2021
Each year, on the first Sunday in October (on or after the Feast of St. Romanos the Melodist, the patron saint of church musicians), parishes across the Archdiocese of America celebrate National Church Music Sunday. This commemoration was inaugurated by His Eminence, Archbishop Iakovos of North and South America in 1982, and has been re-affirmed by His Eminence, Archbishop Elpidophoros of America.
National Church Music Sunday is a day we set aside particularly to honor the contributions of local choir members, psaltai, and music educators who serve their churches through the hymnology of our Orthodox Church. In addition, it is a day when we recognize the work of the diocesan choir federations as well as the National Forum of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians, who through their music ministry, strive to enhance the development of church choirs, church musicians, and liturgical music at diocesan and archdiocesan levels.
To these ends, the National Forum of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians encourages local parishes to use National Church Music Sunday to recognize the contributions of church musicians at three levels each year:
- To honor your Local Church Musicians: your choir director and choir members, your chanters, and other church musicians for their service to the parish;
- To reaffirm your support of your Chicago Metropolis Choir Federation and participate in its activities; and
- To support your national church ministry, the work of the National Forum of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians by becoming a Steward of the National Forum and making a contribution to its Annual Church Music Fund Drive held during October.