Eastern Orthodox (Byzantine) chanting, inspired by the first and supreme Poet – God the Creator, and woven from the love, ascetic efforts, and contemplations of the Church Fathers from the East, serves as a catalyst that supports and elevates the spirituality of the faithful, making them co-participants in the ceaseless angelic praise to God. It is a spiritual-artistic activity that unites all Orthodox Christians as the most fitting way to pour out one’s soul before God.
With this idea and in the universal and unifying spirit of Orthodoxy and its musical art, on December 7th, in the Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Athens, the Second Athens International Festival of Orthodox Church Music was held. Organized by the Association of Psalters from Attica, chaired by Protopsaltis Mr. Elias Rediadis Tumbas, this event was a testament to the joy and honor of participation. Blessed by our Elder, Bishop Anthimos of Antania, our brotherhood was represented by Protopsaltis and choir leader of the Bigorski Monastery, Hieromonk Anatoly Lazarevski. Alongside him, participants included the choir of the Association of Psalters from the Attica region “Saint Romanos the Melodist and John of Damascus,” the choir of the Association of Psalters from Trikala “Saint John of Damascus,” Protopsaltis Artemiy Kaliy from Ukraine, Protopsaltis Meletiy Velchev from Bulgaria, and the renowned Elder Mariam Skorda, one of the finest female chanters of our time.
Father Anatoly performed the challenging and complex hymns: “Your Mercies, O Lord” by Mikhail Ananeot and “The Persian Sages” by Petros Filantidis. With his beautiful voice and deep knowledge and skill in Eastern Orthodox church chanting, he represented Bigorski Monastery in the best possible light.
Among the guests in the packed cathedral were our Elder, Bishop Anthimos of Antania with part of the brotherhood. In addition to numerous clergy, the representative of the Archbishop of Athens, Mr. Hieronymus, was present, as well as prominent citizens from the political and social life of the Greek capital.
In his address, the organizer, Mr. Elias Rediadis Tumbas, greeting the attendees, said:
“It is a particular honor for us that tonight we are joined by Bishop Anthimos of Antania from the Ohrid Archbishopric with part of his brotherhood. I am deeply grateful for their significant effort and sacrifice to travel from our neighboring country, North Macedonia, to participate in this festival and to be our honored guests.”