Theodore Bogdanos was born in the United States, grew up in Greece, and returned to America after World War II. He received his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley and taught at San Jose State University for 26 years as Professor of English and European Literature of the Middle Ages.
Dr. Bogdanos conducted extensive research in the United States and in Europe in Byzantine literature and music and has published several studies in scholarly journals. His work took him to the national libraries of Athens, Vienna, Rome, Munich and Paris. In 1978 and 1985 he was given grants by the American Council of Learned Societies to carry out research on the seminal influence of Byzantine music and hymnology on the rise of liturgical drama in the Western Church. He taught Byzantine musical theory and transcribed and translated a large body of medieval and contemporary Byzantine chant.
Dr. Bogdanos was a chanter and choir director and wrote choral music for the Divine Liturgy and various special services for the Greek Orthodox Church.
In recognition of his scholarly and musical contribution, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople made him an Archon of the Great Church.
Theodore Bogdanos passed away May 6, 2019.
Vivian G. Cardwell began singing in the choir at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, along with her five older siblings, when she was a child. Her oldest brother, Alex Georges, directed the choir, and when he left Milwaukee to attend law school, he turned his choir over to Vivian. She was 13.
During the years Vivian was in graduate school in Chicago, she rode the train home to Milwaukee every weekend to play the organ and sing in the choir.
Years later, Vivian heard of a start-up church in the Chicago area where she was living with her family. Sts. Peter and Paul Greek Orthodox Church had just been assigned a priest and was at that time meeting in a local school. Vivian attended a service and immediately offered to start a choir. The fledgling choir began rehearsing at Vivian’s house every week and debuted during Holy Week of 1962. Vivian directed the choir and created new arrangements of traditional church music until 1964 when she moved overseas with her family.
Vivian returned to Sts. Peter and Paul in 1968, and founded the church’s Junior Choir. In 1978, Vivian became, again, director of the choir she had begun in 1962. She lovingly directed her choir, arranged and translated sacred music from Greek to English, and mentored budding Orthodox musicians until her retirement in 2001.
Frank Desby was born in Cleveland, Ohio on February 24, 1922, the second of four children. He showed musical aptitude from a very early age. Between the ages of 7 and 9, he lived in Greece with his family. Upon returning to the U.S., the family moved to Los Angeles, where Desby lived to the end of his life. He first took up the clarinet, and later the oboe. He began composing in his early teens, and on the strength of an opera written during his high school years, he was accepted as a scholarship student to the USC School of Music, now known as the USC Thornton School of Music. World War II interrupted his education, and upon returning, he completed his undergraduate studies at USC in 1949. A year earlier, he became choir director of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Los Angeles, and continued as choir director when St. Sophia Cathedral opened in 1952, a post he held until his death.
Almost immediately upon becoming choir director, Desby began to compose and arrange music for the church services, as well as making a number of arrangements of Greek folk songs for choir and piano. His music to the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom continues to be sung in Greek Orthodox Churches the world over. He also began an intensive study of Byzantine chant and this led to his returning to USC to pursue graduate studies in church music. His doctoral dissertation, “The Modes and Tuning in Neo-Byzantine Chant,” is still considered a landmark in the field of Byzantine music.
In 1954, Desby married Xenia Anton, organist at St. Sophia Cathedral, and they had three children. Xenia, a first-rate organist and concert pianist, passed away in 1978.
Desby had a phenomenal natural musicality. He was a concert oboist and jazz clarinetist, a fine trumpet and double-bass player, and could play every single orchestral instrument at least passably well. He was an excellent conductor of both orchestras and choirs, and an inspired lecturer. This, of course, being in addition to his composing and his scholarly work, which he did until the end of his life. Frank Desby died on Oct. 30, 1992, and is sorely missed by his family, friends, and colleagues, in and out of the world of music.
Anna Gerotheou Gallos, daughter of Fr. John Gerotheou and Presvytera Evangeline, was born in Philadelphia, PA, the eldest of four girls. One wonders if the first music she ever heard was Byzantine Chant, for her father was an excellent psalti (chanter). When she was seven years old, he insisted that Anna sing the ison for him as well as for the other psaltai. At age eight, Anna started piano lessons, and at age ten she joined the choir of the Annunciation Church in Rochester, NY (where her father was the priest) under the direction of Athan P. Theodorides. She was fifteen years old when she started to direct choirs, the first being in Somerville, MA. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Theory and Voice and her Master’s in Church Music, Composition and Conducting, both from the Eastman School of Music.
Anna spent three years (1986-1989) at the American Farm School in Thessaloniki, Greece as Director of Musical Activities with her husband Fr. George Gallos, who was the school’s Chaplain. The experience was invaluable for Anna because she was able to further her Byzantine studies with the renowned psalti and teacher, Archon Lambadarios Eleftherios Georgiades from the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
In August 1992, Anna and Fr. Gallos celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary. In those fifty years and beyond, they organized and spearheaded choir federation, retreats, choir schools and workshops to help improve the spiritual and musical standards of church music and church choirs. They both played a very important part in the formation of the National Forum of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians, with the charter being presented by Anna to the Clergy-Laity Congress in 1976 in Philadelphia.
Anna served as Choir Director in the following parishes with her husband: St. George, New Britain, Connecticut; Annunciation, Rochester, New York; Annunciation, Baltimore, Maryland; St. Nicholas, Spartanburg, South Carolina; St. Constantine and Helen, Annapolis, Maryland; and Holy Trinity, St. Augustine, Florida. After the death of Fr. Gallos in 1995, Anna relocated to Timonium, MD, from their parish in St. Augustine, FL, and accepted the position of Director of Music at St. Demetrios Church in Towson, MD, where she served from 1996 through 2004.
Anna passed away on February 4, 2015.
Alexander Georges was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on February 28, 1913. Alex studied harmony and composition in high school and was awarded a gold medal in his senior year by the Milwaukee Lyric Male Chorus for his work in arranging Byzantine church music for mixed chorus. He received his B.A. degree in 1934 from the University of Wisconsin, where he majored in economics with a minor in humanities, which included coursework in ancient Greek. After graduate work in accounting and law, he passed the Certified Public Accounting examination in 1938 and was awarded the Doctor of Law degree in 1940. Alex worked for Arthur Andersen & Company until he started his own public accounting practice.
Alex became involved in the Annunciation parish of Milwaukee, Wisconsin as an altar boy when he was eight years old. He remained active as a Sunday school teacher and as a member of the choir that was founded in 1927 by the late, beloved Dr. C. C. Cornell. At the age of 15, Alex was appointed choirmaster by Dr. Cornell and continued directing for over fifty years. Alex, along with a small band of dedicated fellow parishioners, worked indefatigably to build a new church, which became a reality in 1961 with Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. In addition to directing the choir, Alex continued many years of service to his church including the position of financial advisor.
Alex arranged music for the liturgy including special hymns. The Annunciation choir sang Alex’s arrangements as well as work by other church musicians. The choir was Alex’s lifelong passion.
Alexander Georges passed away October 29, 1995 at the age of 82.
Paul Maritsas received his musical training at both Sacramento City College and College of the Pacific (now University of the Pacific) in Stockton. After college, in December 1954, he was drafted into the army and served in the 74th Army Band until February 1955 when he was then attached to the Naval School of Music in Washington D.C. He began directing the Annunciation choir in Sacramento in the spring of 1948 (Easter) until he moved to Salt Lake City in 1963 where he became choir director, eventually moving to the Prophet Elias choir upon the construction of a new church. He has written several musical stage plays including the book, music and lyrics and has written eight screenplays. He is thankful for his friendship with Ted Bogdanos, who has been an inspiration for over sixty years and encouraged him to write for the church and to stay the course.
George Raptis began his church music career as choir director in 1944, and his work continued without interruption for nearly 70 years. He served the Mid-Eastern Federation of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians for almost 60 years (as president for 8 of those years) and also the National Forum of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians since its inception in 1976. He was guest conductor at 23 choir conventions/conferences, including the 1978 Clergy-Laity Congress in Detroit and the 2000 Congress in Philadelphia. He also conducted the Patriarchal Liturgies in Pittsburgh (1997) and Detroit (2000). The 2003 Mid-Eastern Federation choir convention included the first presentation of Mr. Raptis’s Divine Liturgy, followed five years later by the first presentation of his liturgical setting in English.
George Raptis passed away on June 7, 2015.
Tikey Zes was born in Long Beach, California on October 10, 1927, and began his musical training on the violin and piano at the age of 5. He received his Master of Music degree in violin and composition, and his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in composition (under Ingolf Dahl) from the University of Southern California.
He became a professor of music at San Jose State University in 1964 where he taught Theory and Composition until 1991 when he retired. During this time he was concertmaster of the Musicke Faire Chamber Orchestra for many years. In 1976, while on sabbatical leave in Greece, he studied the notation and transcription of Post-Byzantine Chant and made numerous transcriptions of the chant.
Dr. Zes has directed Greek Orthodox choirs since 1953 and has been director of the St. Nicholas Choir of San Jose, California since 1971. He has been guest conductor and workshop clinician for Greek Orthodox Choir Federations throughout the United Sates and has composed/arranged extensively for the services of the Orthodox Church, including 5 liturgies (one in English). In addition he has written numerous arrangements/compositions for chorus and piano based on Greek folk and popular songs. In 1976 he received the Patriarch title of “Offikion” (letter of patent) from the Ecumenical Patriarch Demetrius and was conferred as “Archon of the Great Church of Christ” for his distinguished work in church music.
He was appointed Music Minister for the San Francisco Diocese in 1993 and has given many Church Music Institutes throughout the diocese. In 2005 and 2006 Dr. Zes inaugurated a Conductors Training Academy for choir directors in the metropolis, the first of its kind for the Greek Orthodox Church in the United States.