Australia’s First Byzantine Album Resurrected due to Popular Demand


Due for a relaunch this year, Australia’s first ever recording of one of the world’s oldest surviving musical traditions actually became a reality back in 1999 when producer Kosta Nikas, attended the rehearsals of a young Greek Orthodox choir in a modest suburban hall and mesmerised by their performance, he offered to invest all his savings and produce their first album.

“I felt compelled to make it a reality. It was too beautiful not to share it, and not just within our own community, but with new audiences. I decided against recording in a studio. Given the strictly vocal repertoire, I wanted something organic, and so we decided to record in the Crypt of Sydney’s historic St Mary’s Cathedral” says Nikas.












Historically, Byzantine music is the medieval sacred chant of Christian churches following the Orthodox rite. This tradition, encompassing the Greek-speaking world, was developed in Byzantium from the establishment of its capital, Constantinople, in 330 until its fall in 1453.

It is of composite origin, drawing on the artistic and technical productions of the classical age, on Jewish music, and inspired by the monophonic vocal music that evolved in the early Christian cities of Alexandria, Antioch and Epheus.

Nikas’ album was then distributed by Festival Records, and was entitled ‘Byzantium.’ It quickly became Australia’s answer to the long tradition of byzantine music; as traditionally, it had only been Greece, Britain, France and Germany who had produced recordings of this genre.

In an effort to enhance the production values of the album, Nikas researched and added historical data for each piece, which he then had translated into Japanese, Italian, French and German and was included in a 16-page booklet.

He renamed the group ‘The Australian Byzantine Choir’ and within a month of its release, the album had completely sold out. It received airplay on Australia’s ABC radio and an importance endorsement by the Greek Orthodox Archbishop Stylianos, who stated “All who hear this album will experience more than a few moments of spiritual recreation.”

In this unique album, the music lover will experience the stirring beauty and distinctive character of the byzantine chant; a legacy which has continued for more than a millennium (since 4th century BC) with unfading significance into the present.

Byzantium’ performed by the Australian Byzantine Choir, produced by Kosta Nikas, is available here.


GCT Team

This article was researched and written by a GCT team member.