History of the Federation

AlexiosThe first organizational meeting of the Southeastern Federation was held in Spartanburg, SC on February 13 and 14, 1976, chaired by Fr. George Gallos, of blessed memory. A choral workshop by Presbytera Anna Gallos, Director of Music, was also held.

Churches represented were from Columbia, Charleston, Florence, Spartanburg and Greenville of South Carolina; Charlotte and Winston Salem, North Carolina; Atlanta, Georgia; Knoxville, Tennessee; and a guest choir from Baltimore, Maryland. Virginia was part of the original SFGOCM but was assigned to the Mid-Eastern Federation when the diocesan structure was revised.

A steering committee was selected to meet again in Spartanburg to select a slate of officers and plan for the May meeting to be held in Winston Salem, NC. This was the first formal meeting of the Southeastern Choir Federation. During the next few months, several workshops and and meetings were held, enabling Spartanburg to host the first choir conference in November 1976.

On a Saturday morning, the Divine Liturgy was co-celebrated with His Grace Bishop lakovos and clergy from Greenville, Atlanta, Florence, Columbia, Augusta and Spartanburg. Ten choirs participated, with 96 adult voices and 40 children singing the Gallos II music arranged and directed by Presbytera Anna Gallos. At least eleven different liturgical arrangements have been utilized at subsequent conferences, with the initial performance of the music always directed by the composer. Currently, the Federation is composed of member choirs and individuals of the Diocese of Atlanta, which includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

The first issue of the Federation newsletter, Keynotes, was published in October 1978, and has proved to be the best vehicle for sharing Federation information with our members. St. John Chrysostom was established as the patron saint of the SFGOCM. In 1993, the plan of honoring choir members serving 25 years was initiated at the Mobile, Alabma conference.

Michael Zanakos, of blessed memory, established the Scholarship 100 Fund in 1983 at the West Palm Beach conference. Money was to be raised and placed in an interest bearing account with the interest utilized to offer a scholarship to an Orthodox musician from the Southeast pursuing a career in music. At the 14th Annual Conference in Atlanta, the first scholarship was presented. Renamed The Fr. George and Anna Gallos and Michael Zanakos Scholarship, numerous scholarships have been awarded with over $43,000 donated to the fund.

The Federation has supported various projects of the National Forum, including the National Church Music Endowment Fund. We were also honored to have the National Forum publish the Youth Choir Handbook authored by our Federation members, Lynne Jebeles and Joanne Kambouris. This book has been distributed to each parish in the Archdiocese to assist parishes in forming youth choirs. The Patriarch Athenagoras Distinguished Diocesan Service Award, established by the National Forum in 1997, has been presented to eleven worthy honorees for their exceptional diocesan service.

Presbytera Anna Gallos chaired the first Church Music Institute in St. Augustine, Florida in February 1995. Various workshops were held with an emphasis on beginner and intermediate Byzantine Chant. CMI's continue to provide continuing education to our federation members. In 1996, the Southeastern Federation published the complete Divine Liturgy, set to traditional melodies by Kevin Lawrence. Available in Greek and English, it has been widely distributed and enthusiastically received throughout the United States. It is now in its 7th printing.

Greenville/Spartanburg hosted our 20th Anniversary Choir Conference with charter member Presbytera Anna Gallos directing music from her liturgies. In Tarpon Springs, Florida the 25th Anniversary Choir Conference honored George Anastassiou, of blessed memory, for his early contributions to church music. Many of his family were honored to attend this special tribute.

We are fortunate to have His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios as our spiritual leader. He has been very supportive of the Federation projects and has instituted the Christmas Candlelight Program to encourage choir participation. With his leadership, and the capable Southeastern Federation leaders of the future, we look forward to many more years of church music ministry.

Toula Chininis, Federation Past President
June 2001