Giving this thread another bump, you never know who may be reading and could give more info. @danny thank you for the link to that Soundcloud account. That's such a beautiful rendition of the Praxis Response.
What I appreciate about this ensemble, even though the recording quality is quite poor, the musical accompaniment is so on point.
Most times when i've heard our hymns played along with instruments, it either sounds contrived, or trying to be too western. Sometimes even, because it isn't western music, no thought is given to the arrangement of instruments or the various lines being played.
Whoever composed / arranged these recordings knew a tremendous amount about our hymns and really understood the essence of our hymnology. The music never, in any way, takes over the hymn. The key they're played in is both singable but isn't down in the lower register where things drag / get lost.
The director of the group, from what I gather from the recordings, his name is Malaka Aryan (closest english spelling).
There are a few 78s floating around on Discogs that are part of private collections, that they aren't sharing. In addition there's reference to these recordings at the Columbia and Harvard libraries, but still, no marketplace or online distribution has these available. For something so beautifully done, and historic, I'm surprised there's such little access.
A dear friend told me that this group (Pharaonic Institute) eventually morphed into the Higher Institute of Coptic Studies Music Department (which I believe was chaired by Ragheb Moftah).
But I see no written history of this group anywhere as well.
Any info out there?
Disclaimer: I know the idea of musical instruments playing hymns is a controversial subject, I'm not here to debate one way or another, I'd just really like more info on this group who I believe is a lost treasure in our recent history.