THE FIRST PUBLICATION OF the Department of Psaltic Art and Musicology
“Hymns of the Passion and the Resurrection from churches of eastern Thessaly.
Field recordings by Costis Drygianakis, 1991 – 2002″
It’s my pride and joy to hold the published book “Hymns of the Passion and the Resurrection from churches of eastern Thessaly”, along with its accompanying CD’s. Because of my personal friendship with Costis, I had the chance to watch closely the restless efforts, the enthusiasm and the zeal with which he collected (and continues to collect) his field recordings. And it’s true that the most difficult part of the whole process was the selection of the Hymns to be included in the publication, not only because of the huge quantity of the recordings, but also because of the difficulty to choose one particular version among the many fine or sometimes among the many unsuccessful renditions.
The publication gives representative samples of about 100 chanters and priests, in a way that covers the whole ceremonial “narration” of the Holy Week and highlights not only the famous hymns of these rituals, but also parts of their ceremonial performance. My personal opinion is that the most important achievements of this publication are these two:
- It’s the first time that we have a mapping of the chanting traditions of a particular region in a specific time period, offering a panorama of local cantors and micro-traditions, an approach actually unprecedented in the research field of Byzantine music. Though of course this mapping can never be complete, as the priests and chanters of the churches are in constant flow, Costis managed to tame his material to a considerable extend, setting the cornerstone in this type of research.
- The second important aspect is Costis’ anthropological approach to the art of chanting. This way he underlines the immense cultural value of ecclesiastical psalmody, defines the role of the psalmody in the Orthodox tradition of worship and acknowledges the chanters and the priests not only as servants of the church, but as individuals, as social agents and as a necessary gear of the religious and social realm.