The Saint Nicholas Church Music Ministry is a true cross-section of our parish, with its members ranging from children to college students to senior citizens. Currently, we have over 40 members, but the average ensemble size on most Sundays is 25-30 voices. Our choir sings sacred hymnology during Sunday Divine Liturgy, Holy Week, St. Nicholas Vespers, and occasionally weddings and memorial services. On most Sundays, we sing a version of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom arranged by Presvytera Anna Gallos, in both Greek and English. We are in the process of learning a second liturgy composed by Prof. Tykie Zes. Our repertoire also includes a number of hymns by various composers, including Anastasiou, Bogdanos, Desby, Gallos, Lawrence, Paul, Raptis, Roubanis, Sakellarides, Vrionides, Wardner, Zervos, and Zes. We are primarily an a cappella choir, in the Orthodox tradition.
New members are always welcome to join. This is a most fulfilling way to participate in the Divine Liturgy, with a supportive and friendly group of enthusiastic fellow parishioners. All interested parishioners, ages 12 years and above, are encouraged to join us. Children younger than 12 years may sing if supervised by a parent, godparent, or grandparent in the choir. Some musical experience is preferred, but not required. The ability to read the Greek alphabet is not necessary; all of our Greek hymns and responses include English phonetics.
We sing approximately 60% of the liturgy in Greek and 40% in English. We occasionally sing in other languages, including Romanian, Church Slavonic, Arabic, and Armenian. Most of our choral arrangements are in four-part SATB form, but we do sing some Byzantine chant style hymns. At times, we feature our male voices (tenors and basses), while other hymns highlight the treble voices (sopranos and altos).
Our rehearsals are typically held on alternate Wednesday evenings, frpm September through June. Please see the church calendar for specific dates. We do not have any strict attendance rules. All of our choir members, including the directors, are volunteer servants of the church. We recognize that our musicians have many commitments, including family, work, and school. Our only rule is, "Come as often as you can." We certainly encourage all members to attend as many rehearsals as possible, so that we can improve as an ensemble.
The Music Ministry is directed by Dr. Jon Wardner. Our assistant director is Mrs. Teresa Stokes. Both were appointed to their positions by Rev. Father Nick Kotsis in 2005.
Teresa Stokes previously served as assistant director of the North Farmington High School choir. During her high school years, she sang in her school's elite ensemble, the Northern Lights, and in the State of Michigan women's Honors Choir, and served as drum major for the marching band for two years. During her undergraduate years, she was tuba section leader in the University of Michigan Marching Band. Teresa joined the St. Nicholas choir in the 1990s, and became director of the youth choir in 2005.
Dr. Wardner has been a member of our parish since 1986. He has been singing in various Greek Orthodox church choirs since the 1960s, and directing choirs for over four decades. He served as choir director at St. Catherine GOC, Ithaca, NY, 1975-1981. He then was assistant director at Annunciation GOC in Buffalo 1982-1985. Here at St. Nicholas, he was acting co-director of the choir in 1994, and director of the Holy Week men's choir in 1996. During his undergraduate years at Cornell University, he studied choral conducting, music theory & composition, and voice. The Mid-Eastern Federation of Greek Orthodox Choirs has invited him to conduct occasional regional rehearsals and workshops. His various musical activities in Ann Arbor, outside of his church responsibilities, have included a decade of service as Music Director and orchestra conductor for the Tappan Players.