About the Composer
My name is Gabriel Cremeens, and I began studying Byzantine Chant under Dr. Grammenos Karanos, assistant professor of Byzantine Music at Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Boston, MA. Upon graduating from that institution in May of 2014 and receiving my Certificate in Byzantine Music, I began teaching in both the college and seminary, as well as leading weekly choir practices, while preparing to travel abroad for further studies. I subsequently lived in Athens, Greece for one year, taking private Byzantine Music lessons in performance and composition, as well as chanting at the churches of St. Marina (Thiseio) and St. Gerasimos (Ano Ilisia). After a year of studies, I returned to the United States to teach for one more semester at Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology as a lecturer in Byzantine Music. That same year, my wife and I were married. We currently reside in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where I work as the Music Director and Pastoral Assistant at St. George Greek Orthodox Church. In addition to my work as Music Director, I also teach at the St. Raphael School, an online school for Orthodox homeschoolers. There, I teach both youth and adult classes in Byzantine Music. (http://www.raphaelschool.org/)
I owe a great debt of gratitude for my training in the art of Byzantine music performance and composition to the following individuals:
- Papa Ephraim, hieromonk, protopsaltis of St. Anthony’s Monastery in Florence, AZ, and composer of the Divine Music Project;
- Dr. Grammenos Karanos, my teacher and professor;
- Mr. John Boyer, my fellow student at Hellenic College Holy Cross, protopsaltis of the Metropolis of San Francisco and member of the vocal ensemble Cappella Romana;
- Dr. Ioannis Arvanitis, a world-renowned Byzantine musicologist and composer, with whom I studied for a year during my stay in Athens, Greece;
- Mr. Georgios Hatzichronoglou, Archon Hymnodist of the Great Church of Christ and protopsaltis of Panagia Faneromeni Church in Holargos, Athens, Greece, with whom I also studied for a year during my time abroad.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: As of January 1st, 2017, EnglishMenaion.com will also contain scores composed by Basil Crow, former lampadarios of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral in San Francisco. Basil Crow is an expert composer of Byzantine Chant in English and another student of Papa Ephraim of St. Anthony’s Monastery. It is my honor to promote Basil’s work, which is an important contribution to liturgical music composition in the English language. I also want to thank him publicly for all of his contributions to my own work over the many years we have known each other, and for his helpful feedback he has always given so readily.
About the Website
The main purpose of the website is to provide musical scores for the liturgical services of the Orthodox Church – primarily for the feast days of Christ, the Theotokos, and the Saints of the liturgical year, but also for other liturgical services as well. Hence, the address of this website is “EnglishMenaion.com” but the music contained herein is not necessarily limited only to hymns found in the Menaion. As time allows and, God willing, as I compose more music, I will upload more scores both to the Menaion section of the website, and to the others (Vespers, Divine Liturgy, etc) as well.
About the Music
With several exceptions, most of the doxastika and idiomela were composed as adaptations based on either the Doxastarion of Petros the Peloponnesian (published by Petros Ephesios in Bucharest in 1820), or the famous Mousike Kypseli of Stephanos the Lambadarios (published in 1857). Occasionally, I include alternate musical lines based on other well-known and important composers, such as Konstantinos Pringos, Fr. Dositheos of Katounakia, and others, but the majority of the musical material is drawn from the first two sources mentioned. In some instances, especially for saints canonized in more recent years or saints unknown to the Greek Menaia (e.g. Saint John of Kronstadt), there was no Greek original doxastikon to base an adaptation off of. I composed music for these doxastika and idiomela “from scratch,” so to speak, on a case-by-case basis – some were intentionally composed to mimic the classical style of Mousike Kypseli, while others were written in a more elaborate style characteristic of other, more innovative, composers.
For a video describing the process of composition that I follow (based largely on the work of Hieromonk Ephraim of Arizona), a lecture on the topic can be found here.
If you have any questions about the website, or would like to contact me for any reason, I can be reached at gabriel[dot]cremeens[at]gmail[dot]com.