The choir is a volunteer group devoted to the preservation of Byzantine music. An outstanding and talented group, the choir has presented programs at diocesan choir conferences, the Roman Catholic Basilica, the National Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, and the Roman Catholic Seminary in Emmitsburg. In addition, it is widely known for its hierarchical music, wedding music, and Christmas programs including Vivaldi’s Gloria, Saint-Saens’ Christmas Oratorio, and Britten’s Ceremony of Carols [with harp]. In 1985, a liturgy was presented for the Baltimore Chapter of the American Guild of Organists with 200 members in attendance.
On October 15, 2005 the choir presented a concert in celebration of the centennial of the Cathedral.
Our former Cathedral choir directors include –
Athanasios Theodorides [1937 – 1949] First choir director of the Theological School in Long Island, New York. He introduced 4-part singing to the choirs and did extensive research in Byzantine music at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. Under his leadership, the Annunciation choir sang at many functions throughout Baltimore and inspired choir members to further their musical training. He was a pioneer in the field of Orthodox choirs in the United States.
Anna Gallos [1956 – 1965] MM degree in Church Music, Composition, and Conducting from Eastman School of Music. She published numerous liturgies, Byzantine mosaics for Organ, Christmas, and Easter Liturgical propers, Lenten services of Salutations, and Lamentations for Good Friday. She has served as guest lecturer and conductor of church music for conferences. She is a recipient of the St. Romanos Medallion from the National Forum of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians in 1980.
Georgia Tangires [1951 – 2010] A Peabody Conservatory scholarship student and graduate and recipient of the Howard Randolph Award for outstanding performance throughout period of training, she has had the longest tenure of the Cathedral’s past choir directors. Her many accomplishments include Accompanist for the Maryland State Chorus, Preparatory Christmas programs, taught music Kindergarten through college, composer of liturgical music for choirs and organ, conductor and organist for EFGOC conferences, Church Music Institute registrar 1985, director 1989 through 1991, developed the handbook Repertoire for the Greek Orthodox Church Organist which is published by National Forum, choir director St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Choir. Her awards include recipient of the 1990 Saint Romanos Medallion for distinguished service at the local, diocesan, and national level, and the 1998 Archdiocesan Cross in Orlando, Florida. She is a member of the American Guild of Organists, MENC, and Choristers Guild. She had the honor of participating in services for Patriarch Batholomew and Patriarch Demetrios. After 64 years of service, Mrs. Tangires retired in September 2010.
The music heard in our church services today is Byzantine chant and is to the Orthodox Church what Gregorian chant is to the Roman Catholic Church. It drew from the Jewish tradition and developed in Byzantium from the establishment of its capital, Constantinople, in 330 A.D. until its fall in 1453. The music changed considerably during the occupation of the Ottoman Empire.
Most chants heard today are from the 1850’s to the present and have been arranged by our composers whose styles include melody with ison [pedal point], four-part harmony, canonic form, independent organ part, and use of English. The services are always chanted by the priest and assisted by chanters, choir, or congregation. The hymnology is most valuable in that it presents the dogmatic teaching of the Church.
Today there has been an explosion of interest in Byzantine music due to its ability to reach new audiences through the Internet, thus making it an exciting time when musicologists and composers from all over the world can share their discoveries.
The Organ research by David Storey [organ curator] indicates the Cathedral organ was originally at the Roman Catholic Basilica and moved by the Congregational Church to its present location. The Niemann e-manual tracker organ was rebuilt in 1960 by Lewis and Hitchcock.
Current Director of Music, and Organist for 42 years – Fotini Nichols
Mrs. Nichols is a scholarship student and graduate of the Peabody Conservatory. She has taught music in Baltimore County for three years, and thirty-four years in Prince George’s County where she received her Master’s Equivalency in education. She has been honored as an Outstanding Educator by the American Legion, Delegates of Prince Georges County and the Delegates of the State of Maryland. She was presented with the Patriarch Athenagoras I Medal for Distinguished Service in 1998. She has previously served as organist and choir director for St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church. She has been a presenter at various educational and religious conferences and has composed both sacred and secular music. Currently, she serves as a member of the American Guild of Organists, Maryland Music Educators, National Educators Association, and is president of the Cathedral’s chapter of the Philoptochos Society. Additionally, she serves as a volunteer at the White House in Washington, DC.
Stephanie Vakoutis – B.S., M.Ed., Towson State University. Mrs. Vakoutis has served the Cathedral’s music department as director of the Junior Choir for over 25 years. In addition to her service to the Cathedral, she has been a teacher of vocal music at Roland Park Elementary and Middle School for over seventeen years.
Recordings – 1965 Divine Liturgy [director Anna Gallos, Fr. George P. Gallos, celebrant-Lambryn Mavrikos organist] 1971 – Journey To Pascha [director Georgia Tangires, Fotini Nichols organist]
Romanos Medallion Recipients – prestigious award for outstanding contributions to the music of our church on a local, diocesan, and national level.
1980 – Anna Gallos
1986 – Father George P. Gallos
1990 – Georgia Tangires
1992 – Father Constantine Monios
Patriarch Athenagoras I Award – for outstanding local and diocesan contributions.
1998 – Fotini Nichols
2006 – Ann Sophocleus
2007 – Gus Letras
2009 – Diane Tseckares
Our gratitude for the support of the choir and the music of our church to Father Dean Moralis, the psaltai, the Parish Council and the Cathedral Congregation.