Commemorating the 35th Anniversary of Holy Week and Easter Excerpts CD set features 1979 recording at Ascension Cathedral and 24-page booklet
In May of 1991, Senator Nicholas C. Petris delivered the eulogy at Perecles P. Phillips’ funeral service. When reflecting about a word that would best describe “Perry,” Senator Petris proclaimed with affection that he was “restless!” This word captured the very essence of his being. A devoted man of the Orthodox faith and a visionary, his life’s work was eventually rewarded when he was bestowed an Archon of the Order of St. Andrew.
It is with that “restless” spirit that the newly released Holy Week and Easter Excerpts, the CD and digital version of the 1979 recording Excerpts from Holy Week and Easter, is now offered in commemoration of its 35th anniversary. A monumental undertaking at the time, this two-CD set remains inspirational and revolutionary today. The CD features Holy Tuesday Evening, Holy Thursday Evening, Holy Saturday Morning and the Resurrection Matins. In the spirit of contemporary iconography, Phillips commissioned his daughter and artist Elena Zacharo Phillips to draw the cover image which reflects each service.
Recorded from the choir loft at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Ascension (now Ascension Cathedral) in Oakland, California, it was important to Phillips to capture the mystical sound of his house of worship in spite of the airplanes that occasionally flew overhead and interrupted the recording sessions. The original recording marked the 40th anniversary of the Ascension Liturgical Choir.
“He was a man of many ideas who would creatively construct them into grand projects,” says organist Anna M. Counelis. “He had an uncanny ability to identify talented individuals, and then encourage and convince them to participate in a worthy undertaking.”
Joining the Ascension Liturgical Choir are Fr. Thomas J. Paris, Fr. John Bakas, Fr. James Adams, cantor Dr. Theodore Bogdanos and reader Jeannie Christopoulos along with the Women’s Byzantine Chant Choir, the St. Kassiane Women’s Choir, the St. John of Damascus Men’s Choir, and the St. Romanos Children’s Choir. The late Senator Nicholas C. Petris of blessed memory also contributed reading the Prayer of Azarius, just as he would do each year at the Holy Saturday Morning service with the youth choir.
Phillips’ enthusiasm to offer the Women’s Byzantine Chant Choir for the entire Holy Tuesday service was contagious and sparked a tradition that has continued each year since with the women of the Ascension Liturgical Choir. These chants were originally recorded by Dr. Theodore Bogdanos before his departure for Europe to continue his research on Byzantine music and hymnography. Steve Cardiasmenos transcribed the music.
“Perry had a great faith in me when he challenged me with the task of composing and arranging some of the hymns and responses you will hear on this recording,” says composer/conductor Cardiasmenos in the CD booklet notes. “I was only 19-years old at the time and had only been writing choral music for the church for a little under five years, but Perry had a great unwavering faith in me to be able to accomplish the task.”
“His vision also resulted in a most successful Saturday Morning Service, which he composed and arranged for youth choirs,” said Counelis. “The youth were also recruited to present the many biblical readings and prophecies – a great benefit for the young participants (including my own sons) who, as a result, were 'turned-on' to our faith.”
“Perry Phillips, of blessed memory, will be remembered for his great spirituality and his undying enthusiasm, which shines brightly in this recording, but mostly for his foresight in understanding what was deeply enriching to the human experience through our hymnography,” said Cardiasmenos. “This recording was a labor of love for everyone who took part in the making of it and I will always look back at this recording as a living testament of our faith.”
“He visualized this recording to be useful for 'shut-ins' and an educational aid for all – a goal which continues to be fulfilled,” adds Counelis.
“Thanks to a generous gift from Mrs. Helen Phillips Nickols in memory of her brother Perry and husband Alex N. Nickols, a magnificent tenor who’s voice inspired many of Dr. Frank Desby’s Liturgical compositions, these wonderful recordings have a new global life in this age of digital downloads and Internet communication,” said Frosene Phillips, Perry's daughter and CD producer. “May you enjoy this musical treasure year after year as we celebrate Holy Week and Easter.”
The CD set ($15) includes a 24-page booklet (available for downloading at the CD BOOKLET tab), which features each Holy Week recorded service, an introduction by Perecles P. Phillips along with “Remembrances and Reflections” by Steve Cardiasmenos and Anna Counelis. Holy Week and Easter Excerpts is available at pereclesmusic.com, facebook.com/pereclesmusic, cdbaby.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.