As a living continuum of tradition, Byzantine music occupies an important position in the musical past of Veria. Today, gifted singers continue this musical tradition, which is perfectly attuned to the architectural and iconographic decoration of the Byzantine churches of the town.
Iordanis Koutsimanis, the Protopsaltis of the church of Saint Anthony in Veria, follows in the footsteps of older chanters in the town, much to the delight of the faithful there.
We hear the melodic intonation** of the Kontakion by Vasilis Mavranangkos and thereafter the katavasies ‘I shall open my mouth’ by the Protopsaltis Iordanis Koutsimanis.
* ‘Katavasies’ are hymns sung at Matins. They’re called ‘katavasies’ (hymns of descent) because, in former times, the chanters would ‘descend’ from their choir stalls and move into the centre of the church to sing these hymns. This has not been the case for a long time. Katavasies are the theme melodies for the canons of feasts of the Lord and Our Lady. If the whole of the canon is sung, then the theme is repeated after each ode as a ‘katavasia’. If the whole of the canon isn’t sung, then the katavasies are sung all together (as here) after the reading of the saints of the day.
** This kind of ‘proclamation’ is very old and is associated with heralds in ancient times. The idea is that a text which is slightly sung carries further and is easier to understand at a distance.
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