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Although Easter in the Western tradition is coming to a close (two more weeks!), the Orthodox (Eastern) church celebrates Easter according to the Julian calendar, which means that this past weekend they encountered some of the most powerful music of their liturgical cycle. Some estimates project world-wide participants of Orthodox Christianity to number close to 300 million, with about 10% of those in North America.

This week’s musical selections are sung by a choir based in Portland, OR, called Cappella Romana. This group of professional singers is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and has final concerts in Portland on May 13/14, 2016, featuring the music of “new mystics” Michael Adamis and James MacMillan. Their programming combines eastern and western music “… express(ing) the historic traditions of a unified Christian inheritance.” A unified Christian inheritance – I love that expression. Our celebrations vary in date, musical style, and in cultural heritage, but we share a common story: a story of incarnation, passion, and resurrection. 

The selections this week are liturgical works for Pascha (Easter) and the Divine Liturgy. Although the liturgical texts are ancient, the music is modern, composed by Dr. Tikey Zes. Dr. Zes is the choir director of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in San Jose, California, and is professor emeritus of composition at San Jose State University.

As we continue to celebrate the Easter season, let us rejoice with our Orthodox sisters and brothers this week as they enter the Great 50 Days!

You can find this album on Spotify, or on YouTube.

Some of the texts from the album are given below.

Apolytikion: Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!

Paschal Megalynarion: The Angel cried unto her that is full of grace: O pure Virgin, rejoice, and again I say, rejoice; for thy Son hath arisen from the grave on the third day. Shine, shine, O new Jerusalem, for the glory of the Lord hath arisen upon thee; dance now and be glad, O Sion, and do thou exalt, O pure Theotokos, in the arising of Him Whom thou didst bear.