Eikona is a three-sister ensemble from a musical family, spreading the message of our Faith through song.
Presvytera Stacey Dorrance, and her sisters, Presvytera Marika Brown, and Chrysanthy Therianos — known as Eikona — hope to inspire more people to express their Faith through the magnificent hymns of our church. I had the opportunity to chat with Presvytera Stacey about the family’s Chicago connection, their musical family, and the evolution of Eikona.
Meet the Eikona sisters
Presvytera Stacey, choir director and head chanter of her parish, St. John the Baptist in Beaverton, OR, was born in Oak Park, a suburb of Chicago. Her mother’s family is from Chicago, and she has an uncle that lives in north suburban Northbrook. Their father, Dr. Jim Maniatis, came to Chicago to attend dental school at Loyola University and there began the Loyola University Dental School Choir. The young Dr. Maniatis also served as the choir director at Assumption Church in Chicago. Presvytera’s Thia Florence was the organist at the time. When Thia Florence went on maternity leave, her younger sister, Connie, filled in. Jim and Connie were married not long after.
“Music has always been a part of our lives. Yiayia sang all time. All my aunts, uncles, and cousins sing and read music. We’re blessed to be a musical family. We don’t know anything else.”
When Presvytera Stacey was 6 months old, the family relocated to Denver, CO. Dr. Jim has served as the choir director at Assumption of the Theotokos Cathedral in Denver for more than 50 years; Connie is the organist; another Eikona sister, Chrysanthy, serves as assistant choir director. The other sister, is Presvytera Marika is a chanter at SS Peter & Paul Church of Boulder, CO.
From a young age, the girls sang in the Junior Choir at Assumption Cathedral, under the direction of the late Dr. George Demos. When they grew older, they graduated to “their dad’s” choir. The girls learned piano and other instruments.
“When I was 9, I wanted to be Karen Carpenter, and along with my sisters — one on drums and another on piano — we sang her songs. We always sang together. We did aspire to be singers, but we didn’t know what that would mean for us, because each of us wanted to marry and have a family. Dr. Demos inspired our love of hymnology.”
From hobbyists to recording artists
The sisters did marry — two to priests and one to a colonel in the US Air Force.
“Our husbands asked us how we’d use our talents for God. We weren’t sure. There wasn’t much hymnology in English, so we thought, why not share that, making the hymns accessible to those who don’t understand Greek. We decided to record something. Our first CD, O Gladsome Light, came out 23 years ago.”
The group needed a name. After some thought, the sisters decided on Eikona, because we are all called to be icons of Christ.
“We were inspired through music to grow closer to Christ, and we hope others will do the same.”
Since that time, the sisters have released 10 CDs — with hymns in Greek and English — releasing one every few years. Two of the CDs contain contemporary songs; there is even a CD of morning and evening prayers to help make the most of time spent commuting.
Over the years, they have performed 25 times, in over a dozen states, giving concerts, workshops and directing various choirs. This year they performed in Denver for the Assumption Cathedral, and in November they will be assisting at the Church Music Conference in Southampton, NY.
The next generation
The sisters each have four children, and they all sing. Stacey’s daughter recently completed her degree in music. All the kids are showcased in two of their CD’s: Songs and Great Saints & Major Feasts which follows the year cycle of hymnology.
“It’s unique in that it showcases the beautiful festal hymnology of the Orthros Service. It’s a nice listening CD.”
Eikona will perform on April 16 at The Greek Orthodox Church of St. Demetrios, in Elmhurst, IL. It will be their first Chicago-area concert since 1994. Listening to the harmonies of their angelic voices during this period of Great Lent will certainly be uplifting.
“Expect to experience something about our faith, about family, about something that’s fun. There will be some heavy pieces, but certainly many light pieces; there’ll be a nice variety. We make the shows enjoyable for families, and inspiring. We promote family values.”
Stacey said chanting is a great way for women to take an active role in church; the sisters hope to inspire more people — all people — to chant.
“We hope more people will chant in their churches, and their homes. We want everyone to know the hymns of our church. What a beautiful way to express our faith with your family. We want to inspire people to live their faith, and not just in name only.”
“An Evening with Eikona,” will take place April 16, following Great Vespers at 6:00 pm. Meet & Greet and Lenten reception after the concert. $25 ($10 for college students and kids). All net proceeds benefit the St. Nicholas National Shrine at the World Trade Center. Reservations 630.834.7010. The Greek Orthodox Church of St. Demetrios is located at 893 N. Church Road in Elmhurst, IL.