On 5 April 2012, a beautiful and unusual spiritual and musical event took place, which in an unusual and attractive way managed to bring our faithful closer to the unique and deep experience of the Divine Services of the Passion Week. Namely, just before the start of the Passion Week an Easter spiritual concert named “Paschal Echo” took place in the Universal Hall in Skopje, in honour and memory of the Sufferings of our Saviour Christ and of His most glorious Resurrection. On this concert, organized by the Holy Bigorski monastery, several chants, typical for the Passion Week Divine Services, as well as the hymn of the Resurrection were performed.
For the realization of this concert, first time in the history of Macedonian music, these ancient Eastern Orthodox songs were adjusted for philharmonic instruments. This was done by our eminent composer and professor, Mr. Zhivojin Glisich, who worked on it for a certain period of time. The Macedonian Philharmonic Orchestra, our famous pop-singer Lambe Alabakovski, the nun Cassiana from the monastery in Rajchica and the choir at the Macedonian Orthodox Theology Faculty took part in the performance of the famous melodies. The Bigorski monastery together with its collaborators dedicated this concert to its Mother Church – the famous and most sacred Ohrid Archbishopric, congratulating its 45th jubilee: the renewal of its autocephaly in the image of the MOC.
The message of this musical event echoed so powerfully and instantly conveyed the Passion week ambiance throughout our entire country, preparing our people for the upcoming Divine Services in the next seven days. What meant so much was the open approach and the wonderful reception by those who maybe for the first time heard this divine singing. It was a real joy to see their glowing faces, the tears in the eyes, the smiles, and the hope that emerged in their words while explaining their joyful impressions. We thank God for this graceful heavenly visit, which stirred up a strong enthusiasm in the entire nation for a more spiritual and glorious celebration of the Holy Pascha.
The following year 2013, once again before Passion Week, on 24 April, the faithful people had the opportunity to attend the second such concert named “The Passion of the Lord”, containing performances of characteristic chants from the divine services of the Holy Week. They were: the verses from The Great Monday: „While going on willful suffering”; then the troparion of the first three days of Passion Week: „Here, the Bridegroom comes at midnight’’; verses of Holy Friday and of Holy Saturday among which „Today He’s hanging on a tree“; selected troparia from the Lamentation of our Lord, interweaved with readings of the emotional troparia from the Lenten Triodion, as well as the Resurrection troparion. Our famous pop singer Dimitar Andonovski, the nun Cassiana from the monastery of Rajcica, the chorus of the Holy Bigorski Monastery, as well as the special guest Nectaria Karantzi from Greece took part in the performance, all accompanied by the wonderful instrumental performance of the Macedonian Philharmonic orchestra.
This unusual musical experience was hosted by our famous actor Vlado Jovanovski. Author of the “Passion of Lord” cycle is the composer Vladimir Dimovski. On this occasion, the Bigorski monastery together with its collaborators dedicated the concert to two very significant anniversaries: 1700 years of the publication of the Milan Edict which gave freedom to the Christian religion; and 1150 years of the glorious Moravian mission of the Holy Brothers Cyril and Methodius, the Slavic Educators and Enlighteners.
Our faithful once again eagerly embraced the opportunity to glorify God in this melodious way. The hearts of people present in the overcrowded Universal Hall, as well as of those who watched the live broadcast in their homes, were united in the same Paschal joy which seemed to have painted the city with brighter colors and everywhere announced the message that our holy Mother – Church sent through this spiritual musical experience. And the message sprang from every verse of these beautiful Byzantine melodies, the message that the time has come, through the Divine Services of the forthcoming Passion Week to recall again the Passion of our beloved Savior and to glorify Him with gratitude, not despising His sacrifice. However, the message sent by our honorary guest from Greece, the very famous singer of Byzantine and traditional songs, Mrs. Nektariya Karandzi, echoed the loudest and her performance thrilled everyone and was greeted with admiration and loud applause. Deeply touched by the demonstrated love, she addressed the audience in the Hall and sincerely expressed her gratitude for the warm reception, with a special gratefulness to our Elder, Archimandrite Parthenius who invited this famous Greek singer to take part in the concert and who provided such warm welcome for her in our country. This was the first appearance of the respected Mrs. Karantzi in our country, and having in mind her great authority in the ecclesiastic circles in Greece and in the whole Orthodoxy, as an ambassador of the Byzantine music, her participation in the concert was taken as a great step towards reunion of our Orthodox nations.