The Holy Mountain of Athos, an ark of Orthodoxy for more than a thousand years, can truly be said to be a womb which brings forth and nurtures Byzantine musical composition and the cantor’s art.
Today, after a period of crisis and decline, the monastic community of Mount Athos, flourishing again, is shaping a new period based on the spiritual heritage and the religious charge of this place, and is cultivating that climate which rejoices the souls and gives rest to the spirit not only of each monk, but also of the visitor and pilgrim.
It is in the spirit of this revitalisation of the Athonite monasteries that the ‘Mousikodidaskaleion’ (music school) of the Monastery of Vatopaidi, which for centuries gave the monks their musical training, has started to function again. This bequeathed to the Monastery important composers and a rich tradition of chant, which is being continued by the present choir of the Monastery. This task is supported by the Monastery’s rich music library, in which recordings of earlier Athonite cantors have been assembled, and by research in and study of the library’s music books and manuscripts.
This systematic study of music, which combines a knowledge of the written with experience of the oral tradition of chant, has already begun to bear fruit. It is, moreover, the basis for the present undertaking - an undertaking which seeks to fill a gap in the discography and to provide - through collaboration between the Holy and Great Monastery of Vatopaidi and the Crete University Press - a CD for each day of Holy Week. These editions contain all the classic compositions of the great composers dealing with the Sacred Passion, sung according to the old Athonite use (with kanonarchima, apichimata, antiphonika, etc.).