Jessica Suchy-Pilalis

Jessica R. Suchy-Pilalis (born 1954) is an American harpist, Byzantine singer, composer and music educator.

Life and career

Raymond W. Suchy in 1959

Jessica Suchy-Pilalis grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with her father (Raymond W. Suchy) a physicist and mother (Gregoria Karides Suchy) a composer, both professors at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She studied harp at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee with Jeanne Henderson, with Edward Druzinsky of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Eastman School of Music with Eileen Malone and Indiana University with Susann McDonald, specializing in harp and music theory. She studied Byzantine music at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Theological Seminary with Savas I. Savas and in Greece where she studied primarily with Dimitrios Sourlantzis[1] and Eleftherios Georgiadis. She received diplomas with honors in Byzantine Music from two conservatories in Thessalonica, Greece, and is recognized/certified as an Hieropsalti (Chanter)by both the Greek Church and State.

In 1988, she received a fellowship from the Indiana Arts Commission and National Endowment for the Arts. In 1996 she took a teaching position with the Crane School of Music where she later became a department chair. She also established a concert career, performing both in the US and abroad. She has toured in Greece and performed at international music festivals and for Greek National Radio-Television.[2] Suchy-Pilalis also conducted a year of research in Greece through a grant from the Taylor Foundation.[3] and harp She was listed on the artist roster of Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour.

Suchy-Pilalis is noted as a specialist in Byzantine music. In 1984, she became what is thought to be the first officially titled and salaried female Psalti of the Greek Orthodox Church of North and South America, serving as Protopsalti at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Indianapolis. She holds certifications from both the State and Church of Greece.[3] Bishop Timotheos of Detroit gave her the lesser ordination of Rasophoros (honorific for wearer of an ecclesiastical garment) and Metropolitan Maximos of Detroit tonsured her as an Anagnostis (Reader)/Psalt. Her research involves modal analysis of Byzantine chant and, using the results of the analyses, she sets English translations of hymns as a Byzantine Melodist.

Suchy-Pilalis' research in harp includes historical harps. She is a specialist on the life and compositions of Madame Delaval[4] and has restored a single-action Erard harp specifically for performances of Madame Delaval's compositions. She serves as Vice-President of the Historical Harp Society.


Selected works include:

Suchy-Pilalis appears on a number of recordings as a performer. She has also written articles including "The Mysterious Madame Delaval (Part I)", published in the American Harp Journal[6]


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