Members of the Choir in front of the church
of the Transfiguration of our Lord, Stavropegic Monastery of Vlatodon
Thessaloniki, winter 1997.
The University Byzantine Choir (U.B.C.) was founded in 1972 by Antonios E. Alygizakis at the of University of Thessaloniki. The inspiration for such a choir arose out of the research and educational programme for the study of Byzantine Music with coursework lessons titled: Tutorial of Liturgical Studies. The choir consists mainly of university students, together with well-renowned protopsaltes and university members. Initially it took part in the weekly liturgical cycle of the Aristotelian University Chapel, in broadcasted radio programmes and in many other University cultural activities. It presented a whole series of ancient liturgical services in the Byzantine, Antiochean and Alexandrian Liturgical types: 1) the seven Divine Liturgies; St. Ioannes Chrysostomos, Basileios the Great, the Presanctified Gifts, the Apostolic Constitutions, St.James' and St. Marks' 2) six services of the Asmatic and Monastic rite; Monastic Orthros, Service of the Hours, Trithekte, Great Canon, Akathist Hymn, Pannychis 3) the two services of the Holy Unction and the Blessing of the Waters. This material was written in Byzantine notation and published. Furthermore the liturgy of St. Ioannes Chrysostomos was also recorded and released on an LP.
The choir performed at the Megaron Mousikis Athinon (Opera House of Athens) on the 11-2-1996, within its musical programme, titled Composers of the 17th century, where it chanted previously unpublished works of Archbishop Germanos of Neon Patron. It also participated on the 29-9-1997, in the activities of the organisation "Thessaloniki, Cultural Capital 1997", performing at the National Theatre of Northern Greece in Thessaloniki, previously unpublished works of Didaskalos Ioasaph Dionysiates, (who lived during the the end to the 18th & middle of the 19th Century). The same programme was presented at the Municipal Theatre of Larnaka, Cyprus on the 9-4-1998. The choir further chanted at the Church of St. Lazarus (Larnaka) the services of Vespers, Orthros and the Divine Liturgy, during its feast on the 11-4-1998. In addition, it chanted at the same church the services of Vespers, Orthros and the Divine Liturgy on Palm Sunday 12-4-1998. On the 31-7 and 1-8-1999, the choir participated in the cultural festival Amathousia 1999, at the ancient city of Amathous, Lemessos Cyprus, organised by St.Tychon's City Council, where the programme chanted consisted of various lessons, and it included compositions by A.E. Alygizakis. Finally on the 2 and 3-8-1999, the choir chanted, at the Monastery of St. Neophytos, Paphos, in the vespers and compline services and took part in the concert organised at the grounds of the monastery.
Finally, the choir is planning to present unknown aspects of Byzantine musical culture. Over 7,000 Byzantine musical manuscripts, dated from the 10th century and following, remain to a great extent unknown and unexplored. All in all this unique musical information, "corpus" , the longest enduring in the world, uniquely within the Hellenic tradition, much older than the stave notation, has attracted the world's scholarly attention.
The U.B.C. of Thessaloniki has attained excellent reviews and is mainly orientated towards the chanting tradition of the Great Church of Christ. In particular, it has the following aims: a) to present and promote the traditional art of Byzantine chant, through university research programmes, b) to instruct and train kalophonic performers and chanters within the context of systematic and experimental university choir programmes and c) to record and release the works of the greatest composers and teachers of Byzantine music. The choir has already released on CD and cassette the programme of Didaskalos Ioasaph Dionysiates (19th century). Following two more CDs will appear that of Germanos of Neon Patron (17th century) and a second CD of Didaskalos Ioasaph Dionysiates.
If we were to keep in mind that Thessaloniki, Constantinople and the Mount Athos were the main centres for the evolution of Byzantine musical culture, the importance of this project is clearly made apparent.
Unfortunately, it is not widely known that: a) It was Thessaloniki that served as the base from which sprang the musical tradition which was exported to the West and to the Slavs and that these musical traditions from the eastern basin of the Meditteranean, brought the seal of Hellenic civilisation. It is not by chance that it is in Mount Athos, that the greater part of Byzantine and post-Byzantine musical manuscripts were composed and safeguarded. Thessaloniki, the natural and geographical cultural centre, facilitated this promulgation of music because it is at the crossroads of East and West, situated in the central area of the Balkans (Macedonia) and the Mediterranean. While it's not circumstantial that the greatest part of Byzantine and post-Byzantine musical manuscripts were written and preserved in Mount Athos. b) Of the entire corpus only 15% of the Byzantine and post-Byzantine musical tradition is known today, in other words only the portion that is currently used in Orthodox liturgical practice.
The U.B.C. with its high in potential activities in the area of Northern Greece, contributes significantly to the cultural activities of Thessaloniki. It should also be stated that in recent years the choir is taking part in the following research programmes: a) INTERREG II, of the E.U. and of the Greek Ministry of National Economy, implemented by the Patriarchal Institute for Patristic Studies, b) EPEAEK, Complementary Training of the Greek Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs, which is a collaboration between the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, the Universiy of Macedonia and the Patriarchal Institute for Patristic Studies. In the framework of the latter programme, the U.B.C. offers, the opportunity for choir experience to many people, while simultaneously operating as a training ground for further education for the specialisation of graduates in the field of Byzantine traditional music.
For examples of our work click here.
You may obtain your own copy of these works and other information by contacting the emails listed below.
P. Ch. Panagiotides firstname.lastname@example.org
A. E. Alygizakis email@example.com
You can also visit the homepage of our Education Specialisation Programme (masterclasses), titled "Research and Teaching of the Byzantine, post-Byzantine and Traditional Musical Repertoire", operating at the University of Macedonia, Thessaloniki, Greece .
DIRECTOR - CHOIR MASTER
ANTONIOS E. ALYGIZAKIS
PROFESSOR OF BYZANTINE CHANT AND MUSICOLOGY
UNIVERSITY OF MACEDONIA
PROTOPSALTES OF THE HOLY PATRIARCHAL AND STAVROPEGIC MONASTERY OF VLATADON
Evangelos Aseminas, Evangelos Auxonides, Basileios Basileiou, Christos Kanabas, Antonios Konstantinides, Christos Kotopoulos, Demosthenes Kouskoukes, Sokrates Leptos, Panagiotes Panagiotides, Georgios Papadopoulos, Sabbas Pantzarides, Antonios Petropoulos, Stavros Polyzoides, Anastasios Porphyrides, Basileios Psyllakos, Demetrios Pratsinakes, Symeon Tsiakires.