Archangel Voices is a professional-level vocal ensemble whose goal is to create high-quality recordings of Orthodox liturgical music in the English language, giving special emphasis to the creations of contemporary composers and arrangers, both living and recently deceased. Through its CDs, we aim to bring the beauty of Orthodox liturgical music before a wide audience of listeners, to serve as a vehicle for spreading the Orthodox faith through music, and to embrace various traditions and styles of Orthodox church music as they are manifest in the practice of parishes in North America.
Archangel Voices began in 2003 as a collaborative idea between its Founder and Artistic Director, Vladimir Morosan, and Fr. Sergius Halvorsen. At that time, both were serving at SS. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church in Meriden, Connecticut, where, from time to time, they had occasion to sing various liturgical solos and duets in the course of divine services, sometimes joined by one of the choir members to form a trio. Not knowing exactly how long they would continue to have the opportunity to sing together, Fr. Sergius and Vlad decided to make a recording, initially simply as a “souvenir” of their experience of singing at SS Peter and Paul, and as a fund raiser for the fledgling organization of Orthodox church musicians, PSALM. With the help of Stacey Schinas Grimaldi, a professional soprano who was a member of St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church in Orange, Connecticut, a group of eight top-caliber voices was assembled to record an CD that would focus on small-ensemble liturgical works for both women’s and men’s voices, as a way of demonstrating the beauty that could be achieved in liturgical singing even with a relatively small contingent of singers. The title of the first CD was “With the Voice of the Archangel,” named after the initial track, the Magnification for the feast of the Annunciation.
The initial CD was so well received that two years later, in the fall of 2005, a decision was made to record another one, this time dedicated to the hymnography and carols of the Nativity of Christ. The size of the group was expanded to twelve singers, and the services of Natalka Pavlovsky Weismantel were retained as Music Producer. By this time it was apparent that the group needed a name, and in a moment of inspiration, the name “Archangel Voices” was adopted, providing an obvious connection with the initial CD.
“Christ Is Born! Give Glory!” takes its title from the opening lines of the First Canon for the Nativity of Christ, as rendered by the eminent translator, Archimandrite Ephrem (Lash). The CD includes a varied selection of hymns and carols not only for the feast of the Nativity, but also the pre-festal period, which, in the Orthodox Church encompasses the major feast of the Presentation (Entrance) of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, into the Temple. Also included are rarely-heard hymns from the Pre-Feast of the Nativity--the four-day period immediately preceding December 25th.
Musically, this CD offers a variety of compositions and chant arrangements by some of North America's leading composers and arrangers, both living and recently deceased. The repertoire draws upon various traditions of styles of Orthodox church music, particularly as they are manifest in the practice of parishes in North America. In addition to entirely new compositions by such American Orthodox composers as Fr. Sergei Glagolev, there are numerous selections based upon pre-existing chants, adapted or re-composed with the English language in mind. Some arrangements draw upon the various bodies of Slavic chant--znamenny, Kievan, Russian "Greek," and Carpatho-Russian, while others are based on the Byzantine tradition, both in its pure chant form and in harmonized form.
The Nativity music focuses on the major services of the feast--the so-called "All-Night Vigil" (Great Compline and Matins), served in the evening of December 24th, and the festal Divine Liturgy of December 25th. The CD concludes with nine non-liturgical carols, ranging from English adaptations of traditional Ukrainian settings, to a rarely heard Lebanese carol, to original compositions by Frs. John Finley and Sergei Glagolev. The unifying characteristic of all this musical variety is the English language--an embodiment of a fundamental linguistic principle of the Orthodox Christian Church, whereby worship takes place in the language of the country where a particular church happens to be.
Like two of Archangel Voices' other releases--"With the Voice of the Archangel" and "Resurrection!"--"Christ Is Born! Give Glory!" was recorded in the rich acoustics of SS Peter and Paul Orthodox Church in Meriden, Connecticut.
Listeners write: "A beautiful recording! High quality!..." (Detroit. MI)
"Wonderful... a beautiful selection of music, well performed, with superb voices, well recorded and engineered too!" (Portland, OR)
"Wonderful! Beautiful! This will be be a big hit! (New Haven, CT)
"As I listened to the sound clips, quite literally tears sprang to my eyes." (New London, CT)