Philharmonic Concert at Bigorski

In these days, the sacred space of our Sacred Monastery was adorned by the presence of about thirty young, devout, and artistic souls from the Hellenic Republic, who journeyed to us for a pilgrimage to the great Bigorski sanctuary, but also to offer us an extraordinary and warm musical experience. We are talking about the youth philharmonic orchestra of the Amphilochia municipality, led by the virtuoso maestro Mr. Georgios Tsogas, who held a beautiful melodious concert in the courtyard of the Monastery. Indeed, in the mystical embrace of the night, under the gentle glow of the silver moon, amidst the walls of the millennia-old Sanctuary, these young lovers of beauty and sublimity, with souls perfectly in tune with the rhythm of the environment, played several compositions by the most famous contemporary Greek composers of traditional music.

In those inspiring moments, the Monastery embraced the soothing tones of the music, which, together with the overall atmosphere, created a masterpiece transcending the limits of time and space. It was a musical night that touched the depths of every human soul, leaving all present audience enthralled and enriched. As the reflections of the symphonic tones, flawlessly merged with the delicate and refined voices of the vocalists, etched into the ears and hearts of the listeners, among whom were monks from Kosovo, the thunderous applause from the audience in awe and gratitude, complemented the rhythm of that blessed night.

In addition to the musical part, the concert was further magnified by the addresses of Maestro Georgios Tsogas, the representatives of the Amphilochia municipality, and of course, by the host of this sublime event, our Elder and Bishop of Antania, Mr. Parthenius, the Abbot of the Sacred Bigorski Monastery.

Maestro Georgios at the beginning of the concert warmly thanked His Grace, the Bishop Mr. Parthenius for the warm hospitality extended to the members of his orchestra and emphasized that for him, this performance was a special honor and an exceptional experience. He also introduced his orchestra, which has performed in many places in Greece and Europe, including the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople.

Then the director of the Social Development Centre of the Amphilochia municipality, Mrs. Zoi Druci, also addressed the attendees:

Your Grace, Bishop of Antania, Mr. Parthenius,
Abbot of the Sacred Monastery of the Honourable Forerunner – Bigorski,

Your Eminences and Reverends,

I would like to warmly thank you for your kind invitation, as my presence here tonight, accompanied by the musicians of our Municipal Philharmonic, brings me much more than special joy. It makes me feel a rare spiritual uplift.

I also want to thank you for the exceptional hospitality you have provided us, which has already made us feel a part of you, participants in an experience that will indeed be unforgettable for all of us.

Our Philharmonic Orchestra was established in 1980 and consists of volunteer musicians of all ages. For all the residents of the Amphilochia municipality, as well as for us, the members of the Centre for Social Development of Amphilochia, it represents a great honour. With the professionalism, which it demonstrates and its artistic excellence, the result of painstaking and systematic study, it ‘conquers’ every audience it is invited to perform before…

I wish you to enjoy the concert we have prepared for you and hope you will be equally fascinated by our musical ensemble!”

Among the guests was also the deputy mayor of Amphilochia, Mr. Marko Kaculis, and the mayor’s associate, Mrs. Varela Angeliki, who read the greeting letter from the mayor, Mr. Georgios Kaculas, which in part stated:

Your Grace, Bishop of Antania, Mr. Parthenius, Abbot of the Sacred Monastery of the Honourable Forerunner – Bigorski,

Your Eminences and Reverends,

I ask for your blessing and apologize for not being able to visit your Sacred Monastery, due to my many and persistent duties towards the Amphilochia municipality, despite my personal desire to do so.

However, our municipality is well represented by the president of the Centre for Social Development of Amphilochia, Mrs. Zoi Druci, members of the Board of Directors of the Centre, and by our beloved Municipal Philharmonic, led by the arch-musician Mr. Georgios Tsogas.

The Philharmonic orchestra of the Amphilochia municipality, mainly composed of young children from our region and beyond, has shown particular extroversion in recent years, holding a series of concerts abroad, including in Phanar. An external success, which comes as a result of the methodical study provided by the music teacher, Mr. Tsogas.

Thanks to his leadership and their personal efforts, our children have acquired a special skill with musical instruments, a skill and art that you will soon be able to judge for yourselves, with your own ears…

Today, the presence here, in the Sacred Monastery of the Honourable Forerunner, of the members of the Philharmonic and the Board of Directors of the Centre for Social Development of Amphilochia, is another strong indicator of how we experience our relationship with the Orthodox faith and with God.

I hope that the music of the Philharmonic orchestra for you will be a pleasant, temporary distraction from your daily activities, in the same way that for our musicians their coming here is simultaneously a spiritual and cultural journey, which they will keep in their hearts forever.

I would like to thank you once again for the hospitality extended to us and wish you all God’s blessings.

With respect,

Mayor of Amphilochia, Georgios Kaculas.”

The artistic celebration culminated with the address of our beloved Elder, the Bishop of Antania Mr. Parthenius, who, inspired by the wonderful and motivating performance of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Amphilochia, heartily thanked our esteemed guests for brightening these days with their joyful presence:

Venerable fathers from the Orthodox Church of Serbia,

Reverend brothers, monks, and sisters, nuns,

Respected Maestro Georgios Tsogas,

Honoured representatives of the Amphilochia municipality,

Dear members of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Amphilochia,

Beloved brothers and sisters,

It truly is a special honour and a heartfelt joy that the municipal Philharmonic Orchestra of Amphilochia has graced us with their presence here, on this blessed evening. I am sure you will agree with me that they have truly caressed our hearts with their artistry and nobility. Tonight’s concert is special to us, not only from a musical and artistic perspective but, above all, because we experience it as a fraternal embrace from our brothers in Christ from the Hellenic Republic. An embrace and an echo from our common civilization of Romeyism, which is a spiritual broadness and freedom in Christ and unites all of us, the Orthodox. For, this civilization is founded on the Orthodox Christian faith, which is common to all. It was precisely this that gave the most important treasure to the nations of the Byzantine commonwealth, enabling them to find themselves in eternal Christ, but at the same time to preserve and eternalize their national peculiarities, their identity. Thus, to be part of a cosmopolitan civilization, without losing their cultural essence and distinctiveness.

It is an extraordinary honor for us tonight that Maestro Georgios Tsogas is a personal friend and spiritual child of one of our great mutual friends – the father and benefactor of our Church and our people, His All-Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. He, with his deeds, his paternal love, and his widely open heart, greatly helped and definitively received our Church into canonical unity with the entire Orthodox plenitude. Indeed, the Ecumenical Patriarch was the driving force behind the dialogue with our brothers from the Orthodox Church of Serbia, so our holy Ohrid Archbishopric finally found itself in communion with all the others. These are not just courteous words for the Ecumenical Patriarch, but emanate from sincere, filial, grateful feelings. With a clear conscience before God and people, we can testify that His All-Holiness, even when we were outside the Orthodox community and were, let’s say, isolated and humiliated, showed his great paternal Orthodox heart. His blessing opened the doors for our Orthodox people everywhere: in Orthodox educational institutions, on Mount Athos, and in other Orthodox institutions; with his blessing, our priests and monks could commune everywhere in the temples under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. He constantly strived and sent letters where necessary, to soften the hearts of those upon whom the resolution of the problem depended. With all this, Patriarch Bartholomew showed that he is a worthy successor of his predecessors, the Romey, the holy Patriarchs of the Constantinopolitan throne. And here, again from the glorious Constantinople, came the thrice-blessed embrace of unity in Christ, and for more than a year now, we have been feeling the blessing from it and joyfully thank the Lord.

Indeed, there is nothing more precious for our peoples than our Christian faith and the Orthodox tradition. It is what connects all Orthodox and makes us brothers. Before the concert began, we had a meeting with the representatives of the Amphilochia municipality, and one of them told me that such a monastery is rarely encountered. I replied that yes, the monastery is truly beautiful, with great history and tradition, but I also pointed out how many great and beautiful monasteries there are in Greece, and that there, especially on Mount Athos, the Orthodox monastic tradition was never interrupted. So, when it was necessary to rekindle the fire of coenobitic monasticism among us, we again went to that great lighthouse of Romeyism, to the Garden of the Most Holy Theotokos, to transfer with the blessing of His All-Holiness, that sacred testament from the Romey civilization. Consequently, our Orthodox brothers, the Greeks, who inherited the language of the Fathers of the Church from the East and Romeyism, have a special responsibility to the whole world. For, Romeyism transformed the world in Christ and inspired it with the most exalted deeds of the human spirit. Therefore, today it is necessary to preserve and transmit this spiritual and civilizational tradition. Take for example Bigorski, and other monasteries in our country in the time of godless materialism. Although of great historical significance, they were deserted, without tradition, monasticism, without the word of preaching and spirit. If the Orthodox Greeks had not preserved the Romeic spirit of Orthodoxy, where would have we gone to draw again from the living water of the Gospel, when the entire rest of the Orthodox world was in the darkness of communism?

Finally, we once again thank these wonderful young souls, who have embraced us brotherly with their love and rested our hearts with their musical talent and artistic charm. Through them, we thank all the brothers in Christ from Hellas and strongly urge them to keep the flame of the Orthodox faith. Let us thank God and pray that these spiritual embraces between our brotherly peoples never cease, but rather multiply and our friendship becomes ever greater. Many years to come!”