Stan, I generally agree with Nancy. From one composer/arranger to
another, I find the old adage "simplicity is beauty" to be true. As
you may know, I am working (on and off) on a predominantly English
Liturgy. My choir has already started singing parts of it. Some of
it is in four part harmony but I have tried to write a lot of it in a
more traditional style. For example, I set the "Axion Estin" in Tone
1, melody and ison except for the last phrase, using the traditional
melody in that tone with the necessary changes to easily accomodate an
English text, and my choir likes it very much. With the last phrase
"...truly the Theotokos, we magnify you", I split it into four parts
but still kept the Byzantine ethos without destroying the mode.
I for the most part have become against elaborate settings of the
Liturgy that we have used a lot of times at our choir conventions. As
anyone who has any knowledge of Orthodox music knows, it is the text
that is the most important thing and the music is the vehicle for it,
not vice-versa. Some of our composers just don't seem to understand
this, and elaborate polyphonic settings are much more difficult for a
choir with limited resources (like mine) to sing, plus, polyphony is
NOT Orthodox. I saw an English arrangement of a Bulgarian version of
"I Parthenos Simeron" based on Bortniansky that the Stark County
Orthodox Churches (Canton, OH) were going to use at their Christmas
concert (it was the same night as our Christmas Candlelight walk so my
choir didn't participate), and it was HORRIBLE! I counted 12 phrase
repetitions--12!! in the text and basically said that this is NOT how
you arrange Orthodox music to an English text--the meaning gets lost!
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Stan T" <takistan@...> wrote:
> Thanks for the feedback, Manny. We always appreciate it. Nancy says
> thank you.
> Nancy says everyone who hears the simple chant seems to love it,
> except the Greeks, who want to "pretty it up" with harmonies and such.
> She's exaggerating, of course, but I have also noticed the reaction to
> this music from those outside of Orthodoxy. They usually find it very
> beautiful and spiritual. At my son's wedding, the ceremony was chanted
> by some of his buddies who are trained chanters. My next door
> neighbor, who had never been to an Orthodox service, said the chanting
> was what she loved best about the entire thing, and she was duly
> impressed with everything else, the icons, the service, the priests
> (they had four of them), and the wild, Greek reception.
> --- In email@example.com, "manny9655" <mcreekus@>
> > Dear Stan and Nancy,
> > Just a note to let you know that I used the the hymns that you
> > published in the Oct. 2008 Byzantine Echo for our annual Christmas
> > Candlelight Walk in Downtown Massillon, OH and they were apparently a
> > big hit! This has become an annual event where people progressively
> > visit all the participating downtown churches for a short
> > presentation, so we performed your arrangements several times that
> > evening. I just recently read the reply of the event coordinator and
> > I thought I'd share with you the pertinent part of it:
> > "...The music and singing were outstanding. It was wonderful that so
> > many people were given the opportunity to hear the music and learn a
> > little bit about your Faith and to see the awe-inspiring artwork in
> > your church..."--from Gloria Miller, church coordinator.
> > This was a great opportunity to share Orthodoxy with others and we
> > intend to do it every year.
> > Nice work, Nancy!
> > Emanuel Creekus
> > Choir Director
> > St. George Greek Orthodox Church
> > Massillon, OH