New interview with Divine Liturgy composer, Tikey Zes by Ronald Grames of Fanfare Magazine:
“If one composer stands at the forefront of Greek Orthodox music in America, it would likely be Dr. Tikey Zes…”
RG: So, what is it about music for the Greek Orthodox church that especially appeals to you?
TZ: It is the distinctively beautiful melodies of the post-Byzantine chant of the 19th and early 20th centuries and the harmonizations and arrangements/compositions that can be made from them.
RG: This 1991/1996 Liturgy is Tikey Zes’s The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom , which is one of the new releases by Cappella Romana being featured in this issue. I asked Zes about his relationship with the choir and about the dedication of the Divine Liturgy to Dr. Alex Lingas and the choir he founded and directs.
TZ: My relationship with the Cappella Romana started in 1981 when I first met Alexander Lingas, who much later became the director of this choir and a leading scholar of Byzantine Music. Under Dr. Lingas’s excellent direction this chamber choir has produced a number of CDs based on Byzantine Chant and recently a CD of my 1991/1996 Liturgy. This Liturgy was dedicated to the group because it has done so much to promote Byzantine Music to the general public.
RG: I am interested in the connection between Cappella Romana and your Divine Liturgy . I gather from Alexander Lingas’s notes that Cappella Romana was founded the same year (1991) that you published the first version of this setting. They performed it in concert a year later, and you then expanded—and possibly revised—the Liturgy for them in 1996. There must be some interesting stories in that outline: how you met Alexander Lingas, where he heard or became aware of your Liturgy—were you using it in a worship setting during that period?—what the concert premiere was like, why you decided to revise the work, and what exactly is different in the 1996 version.
TZ: The final 1996 version was essentially the same as the earlier version, with just a few changes. I started using it (in its manuscript form) in liturgical services in the late 1980s.
I first met Alex Lingas in 1981 in a Greek Orthodox Choir Conference in Portland, Oregon. I saw him off and on after that and followed his career both as a Byzantine scholar and eventually as the conductor of Cappella Romana, which gave its first concert in San Francisco in 1991. Since the Cappella was dedicated to the promotion and performance of Eastern Orthodox music, old and new, I decided to dedicate the 1991/1996 Liturgy to them…