Ramzi Saad, Conductor
By the grace of God, the Greek Orthodox Byzantine Choir led by the Psaltis Mr. Ramzi Saad made its debut in 2015. The choir holds its regular weekly meetings and rehearsals in the Presentation of the Theotokos to the temple Greek Orthodox Convent Church in Ashrafieh. The choir was firstly known as “Psaltika”; until it decided later on to take our Holy Lady – the patron saint of the convent and the church from where the choir saw the light – as its patroness. Some of the choir intoners are committed to service in the Presentation of the Theotokos Church in Ashrafieh, while others serve across the Orthodox churches widespread all around the Dioceses. On the other hand, you may find our intoners devoted to other present and active Byzantine Orthodox choirs at the same time.
We work towards making this choir another cornerstone in the service, one that joins its efforts to the existing ones.
The Theotokos Orthodox Choir – the Nightingales of Byzantine Music – had taken the Nightingale as a role model for its performance and work, for this small bird resembles the choir in terms of novelty. Accordingly, the Nightingale and the choir members match with regard to mobility, the eagerness to learn and the desire to give. And just as the nightingale masters as many tunes as he can, the choir brings into play each and every melody, seeming new to some; although this is but a buried treasure waiting voices to set it free. To that we add the serene aspect of the bird that reaches the aim of the choir, seeking it through its rehearsals and performances along with sobriety and perfection.
As the choir intoners come from different backgrounds, they share altogether the passion to serve the divine word, and to convey the Gospel to the faithful ears through Byzantine music. Church music made its way from ears to hearts by the inquisitiveness of the intoners to learn more about the history of this music along with its heritage, so as to revive it. Following this passion and spirituality, the choir served in many church and liturgical services in different Orthodox parishes in a multitude of cities and villages scattered over the Dioceses. Moreover, the choir hosted many chanting Byzantine evenings and concerts, most notably the one which hosted one of the most renowned Byzantine music pillars in the world, Professor and Protopsaltis Theodoros Vassilikos, along with his disciple Protopsaltis Evangelos Gkikas, which were guests on April 3rd, 2016 at the Congress Palace in Dbayeh. Both Protopsaltis sang along with the choir and its leader, in one of the brightest Byzantine evenings in our region. The choir also participated in a chanting Byzantine evening with the Patriarchal Roman Catholic choir St. Stephanos the Melode.
Spring is a time of fruition. Spring is the enriched garden with the everlasting songs of the Nightingale. Spring is when our choir bloomed at first with the release of a CD in praise and worship of Saint Nektarios the Wonderworker, Bishop of Pentapolis, and with another one serving the Holy Saturday service hymns. We hope to strive and follow the right path in a way to acquire the qualities of the Nightingale, for “It is time for you to act, O Lord”, and time of glorification.
The entire repertoire chosen for this concert consists of chants extracted from the liturgical texts and services of the Greek Orthodox Church.
You will find below all the chosen chants with explanation,clarification and notes on each chant:
The Typika is a brief service appointed for some reasons, that consists of Psalm 102, 145 and the Beautides. It may occur in the Divine Liturgy.
An Idiomela is a hymn having its own unique melody and not used as a model for any other hymns. And the Apostikha consists of Stikhera (similar to a stanza) accompanied by verses usually taken from the Psalms. The Apostikha is found at the end of Vespers and also at the end of Matins on ordinary weekdays.
This polyelios consists of Psalms 134 and 135, and is chanted at Matins on Greaf Feasts and some designaged Sundays.
On feast days, the Polyeleos is followed by selected verses of other psalms which are relevant to the celebrated feast. In the Greek Orthodox tradition, these verses are referred to as the Eklogarion.
At Royal Hours all of the Hours: 1st, 3rd, 6th, and 9th, as well as the Typika service, are sung as one service. The service is read on the eves of the Nativity of Christ and Theophany also, as well as on Holy Friday. It is characterized by special Psalms and hymns, as well as special Old Testament, Epistle and Gospel Readings, relating to the particular Feast of the day.
The Doxasticon is a sticheron appointed to be sung after “Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit”.
Kratimata are musical compositions which employ nonsensical syllables, such as terirem, terere, tenena, and prolong the melody. These compositions are not bound by the restrictions of the poetic texts, thus the composer is free to develop the melody with creativity and originality. However, it did not give any hints as to the origins of these “nonsensical syllables”, “which some have called the Virgin’s lullaby, others the chanting of the angels, and others the flight of the soul towards God, the soul which is not satiated by mere words and nowlongs to hear the voice of the Other.”
The Nativity Canon is formed of two canons , written by the renowned hymnographers of the eighth century, St. Cosmas of Maiuma and St. John of Damascus. In general, The Canon of Matins service, is a collection of hymns consisting of nine odes, the Heirmos. The Canon is a series of nine Canticles (or Odes) containing a number of Troparia in each, preceded by the Irmos, that has a melodic model and is similar to a Theme Song.
It is chanted after the Doxasticon in the matins service.of the Nativity, and.is preceded by “Now and ever and unto ages of ages, Amen”.
This hymn of great antiquity, begins with the words of the angels, Glory to God in the highest… Its use is appointed at Compline, Midnight Office and Matins.
During the Divine Liturgy, “Axion Estin” ( It is Truly Meet and Right…) is sometimes replaced by another hymn to the Theotokos. These hymns are referred to in the service books as “in place of Axion Estin”.
The communion hymn, known as the “Kinonikon”, is psalm verse appointed to be sung during the communion of the clergy.
The Apolytikion is the dismissal hymn in honor of a saint, Christ, or Virgin Mary on the occasion of their feast day, especially at the end of the Vespers Service.