The Archdiocese Department of Sacred Music’s Composer-in-Residence nazo zakkak has released his premiere CD of liturgical music, titled LUXARI. A collection of original hymns for the Orthodox Church, LUXARI draws on the influences of traditional Byzantine, Russian, and Romanian music, and lovingly crafts them into a new and enticing American sound. The CD also features works commissioned by churches and monasteries across the US.
As a composer, nazo zakkak is one of Orthodox America’s next generation of liturgical musicians seeking to develop an authentic musical expression of the Church’s prayer in this time and place. The fruit of his labor can be heard on this, his first liturgical music CD. All the hymns on this album are appropriate for liturgical use within the Orthodox faith, yet shine in a concert setting. The Adelfos Ensemble from Santa Barbara, CA performs the works.
An improvising pianist from an early age, nazo zakkak entered the jazz world and, after performing locally and internationally with many notables in the field, graduated with an MFA in Composition from UC Irvine. Having also worked in the fields of ambient music, experimental music, and minimalism, he turned his attention towards the spiritual music of the Orthodox Church and has been commissioned by churches and monasteries across the U.S. Nazo’s works have been sung and recorded by various church and professional choirs. He is currently Composer-in-Residence for the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America and choir director at St. Anthony the Great Orthodox Church in San Diego.
Peter Jermihov, the conductor, founder, and artistic director of the Society of Saint Romanos the Melodist, notes, “I am delighted to welcome into the world this wonderful new recording of Orthodox choral music by nazo zakkak, LUXARI. Nazo has managed, once again, to compose music that is fresh, enticing, and pious at its spiritual and creative core. The time is ripe for a young American composer to invest his considerable talent into the creation of a new sound for the Orthodox Church, one that builds its character upon worthy traditions and, at the same time, seeks to create something new.”
“Nazo has found a perfect balance between tradition and invention, and he has seized the moment,” adds Jermihov. “We are fortunate to have him in our midst and to welcome this delightful recording as we move forward.”