History of the EFGOCM
Through the years, choirs in the various regions of the Mid-Atlantic states would gather for special occasions. Most notable is the annual celebration of Holy Cross Day at Asbury Park, NJ where the churches of New Jersey and SE Pennsylvania have gathered since 1947. Also included was the 350th anniversary celebration in 1958 of the Jamestown settlement where choirs from the churches of central and SE Virginia sang a commemorative Hierarchal Divine Liturgy at Jamestown, VA.
On March 19, 1977, a group of concerned and determined choir members and clergy met for the sole purpose of starting a choir federation in the newly established Diocese of New Jersey in support of choirs, and The Eastern Federation of Greek Orthodox Choirs was born. (Formerly known as The First Diocesan District, "District 1" had originally included parishes in Maryland, Greater Philadelphia, New Jersey, and New York.) A steering committee was chosen to spearhead a conference at Annunciation Cathedral in Baltimore, MD. After due deliberations, the weekend of November 12 & 13, 1977 was chosen. Noted Greek Orthodox musicians and educators were contacted and the host parishes of Baltimore started working feverishly to put together a religious music weekend. Under the leadership of Annunciation’s then choir director, Georgia Tangires, the list of nationally prominent clinicians and workshop facilitators included Dino Anagnost, Lois Papademas, Mary Jo Cally and Niki Kalkanis, the first chairman of the National Forum of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians. Georgia conducted The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom in the First and First Plagal Modes by Anna Gallos (Gallos III) and the choir was accompanied by Fotini Nichols. Members of the Federation elected Gus Letras of Baltimore as the first president. Other early leaders and enthusiasts of the federation included His Grace Bishop Silas, Elias (Lou) Tsakiris, Dennis Spyros, Paul Mavromihalis, Diane Tseckares, Ann Sophocleus, Despina Kavadas (Houlis), Perry Georgeadis, Peggy Anninos, Drucie Arakas (Papafil), Maria Stevens (Mitchum), Nick Campanellas, and Jim Meares.
One year earlier in 1976, a choir federation was also formed in the Southeastern states under the guidance of Fr. George and Anna Gallos, of which Virginia was a member. As a result of Archdiocesan restructuring in 1979, the membership of the Eastern Federation expanded with the incorporation of the Virginia parishes into the New Jersey Diocese as well as the inclusion of Holy Trinity/St. Nicholas of Staten Island and the two churches of Washington, DC.
In 2003, the Diocese of New Jersey was elevated to a Metropolis by a new charter granted to the Archdiocese by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Around that time the Eastern Federation officially changed its name to the Eastern Federation of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians. It is officially comprised of church musicians - choir members, psaltai and church school music educators from the parishes of the Metropolis of New Jersey. For 40 years, the federation has convened annually to learn new musical settings of the Divine Liturgy, award scholarships, conduct workshops on vocal technique, encourage youth participation, strengthen communication between church musicians and the leadership of the Church and improve the spiritual and musical background of our church musicians.