We’ve got a full preview of a track from our upcoming LIVE IN GREECE recording for you today. Take a listen to Frank Desby’s Apolytikion of the Holy Cross via SoundCloud:

LIVE IN GREECE Track 7: Apolytikion of the Holy Cross

Frank Desby (1922–92) provided much of the impetus in the mid-twentieth century for the rise of the ‘West Coast School’ of Greek Orthodox choral music. For decades he served as director of music at St Sophia Cathedral in Los Angeles, also working tirelessly throughout the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America as conductor, composer and educator. Having gained postgraduate degrees at the University of Southern California for theses on medieval and post-Byzantine chant, Desby combined ideas gained from modern chant scholarship with his knowledge of the history of Western and Russian choral music to reshape Greek American liturgical singing according to contemporary academic standards. This led Desby during the 1950s to create harmonisations inspired by Renaissance prototypes and to adapt Byzantine chant to the modern style of performing Gregorian chant invented at the end of the nineteenth century by the monks of the French abbey of Solesmes. The ways that these approaches differed from the received traditions of Byzantine chanting may be heard by contrasting the performances on this disc of the traditional melody for the Apolytikion of the Holy Cross (sung from an 1882 publication by Stephanos Lampadarios, a cantor at the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople) with Desby’s staff-notation transcription and choral setting of the same hymn.

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