Nickitas Demos




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Akathist (2007)

Nickitas Demos

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Duration: 6'30"

Commissioned by the Georgia State University School of Music

Within the Eastern Orthodox Christian Tradition, an akathist (from the Greek, akathistos) refers to a hymn dedicated to a saint, a holy event, or one of the Persons of the Holy Trinity. While many akathists date back to the first millennium of Christianity, the writing of these types of hymns continues today especially in the Slavic tradition. Most of the newer akathists are a pastiche, incorporating a generic form that imitates an earlier akathist into which a particular saint's name is inserted.

The idea of an akathist being a pastiche of new and old elements intrigued me as I set upon the writing of this work. Instead of fitting new words into older forms, I decided to incorporate a more contemporary musical vocabulary around an ancient Byzantine Chant melody. The chant melody, Ti Ipermaho - To You Theotokos, O Champion Leader, is from the most well known akathist, written in the 6th century to the Theotokos (from the Greek, Mother of God, referring to the Virgin Mary). During Great Lent, it is chanted each Friday during the Salutations to the Theotokos Service and at each Divine Liturgy. 

All musical material within this work revolves around the ancient melody. It is a reminder to me of the anchor that informs the motion of my life and the ties of this temporal existence to eternity.