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The 2016 Pan-Orthodox Music Symposium

“Orthodox Liturgical Music: Finding Beauty and Prayer in the English-Speaking World”

Minneapolis, Minnesota / 22-26 June 2016

Presenter Biographies

The International Society for Orthodox Church Music (ISOCM) is proud to announce the following individuals will be speaking at the 2016 Pan-Orthodox Music Symposium.


They represent a cross section of musicians, musicologists, researchers, teachers, composers, directors, and singers in the Orthodox music world today.


Our hope is they will provide participants with a fresh perspective on the current state of liturgical music both in North America as well as the world, and challenge us to reflect on the liturgical experience in our parishes, so that we are striving to provide the beauty and prayer necessary for the spiritual growth of those in the choir, on the kliros, as well as everyone else in attendance.


The liturgical life of our communities must be dynamic and engaging if we are to be a beacon unto the world and share the light of Orthodoxy with this land.


Thursday 23 June 2016

Session I Presenter, Assistant Director, and Forum Panelist: Larissa Kaminsky Sander

Larissa Sander has spent her life singing and conducting Orthodox liturgical music. She currently serves as chairperson of the Liturgical Music Committee of the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America (ROCOR) where she coordinates liturgical singing seminars in various parishes throughout the diocese. She had the distinction of being the first graduate of the Summer School of Liturgical Music at Holy Trinity Seminary where she earned the certificate of "regent-psalomchik."


As a voice major, she was awarded a degree in music education  and went on to earn certification in the Orff-Schulwerk pedagogical method for children.  Her early career was education, working as a choral music teacher in the Des Plaines (IL) school district and later as an instructor for the Orff-Suzuki School in downtown Chicago. Recently, she has dedicated her energy toward the field of Orthodox choral singing.  She played a key leadership role in a number of significant projects in this field, including a CD featuring the Orthodox choral music of Kurt Sander and Gennady Lapaev, entitled “As Far As The East Is From The West”  and a four-day pan-Orthodox liturgical music symposium that took place on the campus of Northern Kentucky University in the summer of 2014.She currently resides in Cincinnati where she serves as the assistant choir director and youth choir director at St. George Russian Orthodox Church and sings locally the Cincinnati Camerata under the direction of Brett Scott.  


She teaches youth music classes and periodically presents lectures in the Orff method at Northern Kentucky University and has also worked as a Russian and Slavonic diction coach with the May Festival Chorus and the Vocal Arts Ensemble.


Practicum 1a and 3 Leader: John Black

John Black has been involved in liturgical music as a director and arranger for nearly twenty years.  He was most recently choir director at St. Stephen's Cathedral (OCA) in Philadelphia from 2008-2012. Prior to that, John directed at Holy Trinity Church in Pottstown, PA and St. Michael the Archangel in Wilmington, DE, and has assisted in arranging and typesetting for the Department of Liturgical Music of the Orthodox Church in America from2005-2009.

John earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania where he studied music education, composition, and percussion. He studied liturgical music at St. Vladimir's Seminary and also completed the Diaconal Formation Program offered through St. Tikhon’s Seminary.

John has spent time in both Antiochian and OCA parishes, and was surrounded by Orthodox liturgical music from an early age since his father (also a long-time choir director) directed at many parishes in the New York City and northern New Jersey areas. He firmly believes in music as a powerful witness of the Orthodox faith to the world, especially when it is written and executed in a way that connects with the people in their own language and culture. These ideals have guided his own compositions and arrangements of liturgical music. In the future, John plans to continue graduate work in choral studies; with a particular focus on the adult learner, and bridging the gap between resources and techniques offered by western music education and the demands on those who serve musically in the Orthodox faith.

Practicum 1b Leader and Assistant Director: Juliana Woodill

Juliana Woodill is a choral director in Fairfax County, VA. She began teaching in 2009 after she received a Bachelor of Music in Music Education and Musical Theater from Westminster Choir College. During her time at Westminster, she studied conducting with Dr. Joe Miller, and sang with the Westminster Symphonic Choir under the baton of many conducting greats including Christoph Eschenbach, Neeme Jarvi, Pierre Boulez and Kurt Masur.


She has taught music across all ages in Fairfax County Public Schools and currently teaches chorus at Lanier Middle School. Her four choirs consistently receive superior ratings at local and state adjudications, where they regularly receive comments about their incredibly mature sound and artistry, rarely found in middle school choirs. 

Juliana grew up singing in the Orthodox Church at her home parish in California and began singing in the church youth choir at age 8. Being surrounded by beautiful choral singing in a church context set her on the path to becoming a conductor. During her time at Westminster, she conducted the choir at Joy of All Who Sorrow Orthodox mission in Princeton, NJ. She continues this work today as the assistant choral director at All Saints of America Orthodox Church in Alexandria, VA and loves the opportunity to bring the musicianship and skills of the choral world into the church setting.


She believes strongly in the importance of beautiful, healthy singing both in church, and in her school choirs.


Friday 24 June 2016

Session III Presenter and Forum Panelist: Dr. Kurt Sander

Kurt Sander's compositions have been performed in twelve countries on four different continents. Hailed for writing "intensely beautiful spiritual music," Sander seeks to capture the sublime dimensions of the Eastern Orthodox faith in both his choral and instrumental works.


While his record of work includes a variety of contemporary concert pieces, his energies are heavily focused on the choral music of the Orthodox Church and writing about the aesthetics of Orthodox creativity.


His sacred choral work has been sung by many fine performing ensembles including Cappella Romana, the Cincinnati Camerata, the Cantata Singers of Ottawa, the St. Romanos Cappella, Conquering Time Ensemble, Archangel Voices, and the The Patriach Tikhon Choir. It has also been featured at the CREDO International Festival of Orthodox Choral Music by the Orthodox Singers under the direction of Valery Petrov.


Sander has also acquired notoriety for his works written for both chamber ensembles and orchestras. He was recently named a finalist in the American Prize for his chamber work "Ella's Song" about the life of St. Elizabeth, Grand Duchess of Russia.  Other instrumental works have been performed by the Transylvania State Philharmonic Orchestra, the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, the Brasov Philharmonic (Romania), the Plevan Philharmonic (Bulgaria) and the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, Synchonia, the Corbett Trio, the Solaris Wind Quintet, the St. Petersburg Quartet. 

Sander also is an active presenter and author. His reseach is directed toward the relationships between Orthodox iconography and music, and the unique traditions that inform the creative process for the artist and composer, more specifically, the work of contemporary Orthodox composer Arvo Pärt.


Sander holds degrees in composition from Northwestern University, Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and Cleveland State University. His teachers include Bain Murray, William Karlins, Alan Stout, Rudolph Bubalo, Andrew Imbrie, and Alan Sapp.


Session IV Presenter: Paul Barnes

Praised by the New York Times for his “Lisztian thunder and deft fluidity,” and the San Francisco Chronicle as “ferociously virtuosic,” pianist Paul Barnes has electrified audiences with his intensely expressive playing and cutting-edge programming. He has been featured four times on APM’s Performance Today and on the cover of Clavier Magazine and his recordings are broadcast worldwide. He has performed in England, China, Korea, Taiwan, Austria, Russia, Greece, Italy, Serbia, Hungary, and in all major cities throughout the US.


Barnes is Marguerite Scribante Professor of Music at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Glenn Korff School of Music. He teaches during the summer at the Vienna International Piano Academy and the Amalfi Coast Festival in Italy.


Barnes also serves as head chanter at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Lincoln where his devotion to Byzantine chant has led to many commissioned works based on byzantine chant. These include Victoria Bond’s piano concertoAncient Keys based on a Greek Orthodox communion hymn and Ivan Moody’s piano quintet Nocturne of Light featuring the venerable Greek Orthodox hymn “Christos Anesti –Christ is Risen.”


Barnes twelfth CD New Generations: The New Etudes of Philip Glass and Music of the Next Generation was released in Novemeber of 2015. Produced by Glass’s label Orange Mountain Music, the recording features a selection of Glass’s etudes juxtaposed with works by N. Lincoln Hanks, Lucas Floyd, Ivan Moody, Jason Bahr, Zack Stanton, and Jonah Gallagher. The sonic result is a breathtaking panorama of the energetic and expressive landscape that is twenty-first century piano music.


In celebration of twenty years of collaboration, Barnes is commissioning Philip Glass to write a piano quintet to be premiered with the Chiara Quartet in March of 2018. Entitled Piano Quintet No.1 Evangelismos (Annunciation) the quintet will be based on Greek Orthodox hymns for the Annunciation of the Theotokos. Barnes’ recordings are available on Pandora, ITunes, YouTube, and Amazon.


Practicum 2a Leader: Dr. Nicoletta Freedman

Dr Sydney Nicoletta Freedman is a performer and student of Georgian, Byzantine, and Slavic chant repertories as well as early Western music. She holds a BA in Music History and Mediaeval Studies from St Olaf College and an MA in Ritual Chant and Song from the University of Limerick. Her PhD in Arts Practice, also from the University of Limerick, explores the theology of singing in Orthodox Christian worship, with a focus on Holy Week and Paschal hymnography with a concentration on Georgian Orthodox chant traditions.


Dr Freedman has chanted with Orthodox communities throughout Ireland and the United States, including several Greek, Romanian, and Georgian parishes, and has sung with a variety of early music ensembles in Ireland, including Cantoral, with whom she recorded early Irish repertoire.


Dr Freedman served as the choir director at the Three Holy Hierarchs Mission in Northfield, MN, and is continuing her research in the study of patristic writings and her ongoing fieldwork in the Svaneti region of Georgia while living at the St. Nina's Monastery in Union Bridge, MD.


Practicum 1a Leader, Assistant Director, and Forum Panelist: John Michael Boyer

John Michael Boyer has been a professional singer and conductor since 1999. His early childhood music training was in Gregorian Chant and Renaissance polyphony under Dean Applegate in the renowned ensemble Cantores in Ecclesia. He began studies in Byzantine Music at age 14 under musicologist Alexander Lingas and has since studied with the late Lycourgos Anglopoulos (+2014) and with renowned muicologist, cantor, and composer Ioannis Arvanitis.


For his degree in music from the University of California, Berkeley, he studied orchestral, choral and operatic conducting with David Milnes and Marika Kuzma. He has sung as a core member of Cappella Romana since 1999. As Protopsaltis(First Cantor) of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco since 2006 and an expert Byzantine cantor, he lectures on liturgical music across the United States and abroad. He was artistic director of the Josquin Singers, and associate conductor of Bay Area Classical Harmonies ( He coached Chanticleer for their Grammy award-winning recording of Sir John Tavener's Lamentations and Praises. 


Boyer is an active composer, producing music for Cappella Romana's Divine Liturgy, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology's All Creation Trembled, as well as a wide variety of material for liturgical use in the Byzantine tradition in English, such as settings of the Orthodox Funeral Office for Sir John Tavener’s funeral in 2013. He also collaborated on the Psalm 103 project for the St. John of Damascus Society with composers Matthew Arndt, Alexander Khalil, Kurt Sander, Richard Toensing (+2014), and Tikey Zes. In 2014, John graduated with his Master’s of Divinity as a seminarian at Holy Cross and plans to pursue a PhD in musicology through the University of Athens.


In addition to his continued work singing, teaching, and composing as Protopsaltis of the Metropolis of San Francisco, he is currently writing a textbook entitled Byzantine Music: The Received Tradition – A Lesson Book, projected to be published in 2017.

Saturday 25 June 2016

Session V Keynote Speaker and Forum Panelist: Fr. Ivan Moody

Archpriest Ivan Moody studied music and theology at the Universities of London, Joensuu and York (where he took his Ph.D). He studied composition with Brian Dennis, Sir John Tavener and William Brooks and his music has been performed and broadcast all over the world, and recorded on labels such as Hyperion, ECM, Telarc, Warner Classics, Sony and Challenge. He has been commissioned and performed by many of the world’s outstanding performers, including the Hilliard Ensemble, the Tallis Scholars, Chanticleer, the BBC Singers, the English Chamber Choir, Raphael Wallfisch, Paul Barnes, Suzie LeBlanc, Cappella Romana, the Coro Nacional de España, the Norwegian Soloists’ Choir, Trio Mediaeval, Singer Pur, the Goeyvaerts Trio and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir.


His largest works to date are Passion and Resurrection (1992), the Akathistos Hymn (1998) and Qohelet (2013). Other significant works include The Dormition of the Virgin (2003), the double-bass concerto The Morning Star (2003), the piano concerto Linnunlaulu (2003), Passione Popolare (2005), Ossetian Requiem (2005), the tuba concerto Pipistrello (2007), Stabat Mater (2008), Moons and Suns (2008), the piano quintet Nocturne of Light (2009), the bass clarinet concerto Dragonfly (2013), Simeron (2013) for vocal trio and string trio, and the Dante Trilogy (2014) for choir and ensemble. He is currently working on new pieces for the pianist Artur Pizarro and for soprano Suzie Leblanc. (For further information see


As a conductor he works regularly with professional choirs and ensembles in both Europe and America, and has paid special attention to contemporary music and Orthodox church music. As a musicologist his work has dealt with the music of the Balkans and the Iberian Peninsula, contemporary sacred music and the theology of religious music. He is a researcher at CESEM – Universidade Nova, Lisbon.


Principal Director: Dn. Gregory Ealy

Deacon Gregory Ealy earned a Master’s in Liturgical Music from St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary in 2007. His master’s thesis (Medieval Russian Chant and the Contemporary Church) analyzed the resurgence of traditional chant in former Soviet Bloc countries. In addition his studies at St. Vladimir’s, Deacon Gregory has taken courses in voice, piano, and music theory at Florida State University and St. Tikhon’s University in Moscow, Russia.


Since 2007 Deacon Gregory has worked for the OCA’s Department of Liturgical Music under the supervision of David Drillock and made a presentation about his work at the 5th ISOCM conference in 2013. Deacon Gregory’s compositions and arrangements have been featured on recordings made by St. Vladimir’s Seminary and Holy Trinity Cathedral in Chicago. In 2011, at the invitation of the Russian Church, he traveled to Moscow to assist in the first English recording of Metropolitan Hilarion’s (Alfeyev) St. Matthew’s Passion.

Deacon Gregory has served as choir director at Orthodox churches in Orlando, FL, Danbury, CT, and Chicago, IL. Since his appointment as choir director at St. Mary’s Cathedral in 2011, Deacon Gregory has formed a male ensemble, which performs at church events during the year, an ensemble that sings traditional chants from the Republic of Georgia, and worked with the youth to further develop it's church school and vacation bible school music program.

Principal Director: Dn. Alexander Petrovsky

Deacon Alexander Petrovsky has been serving the Church since the age of three. As a child, he would spend all weekend with his father Philip, a priest at St. Vladimir Memorial Church in Jackson, NJ, either at their home parish or traveling to parishes throughout the east coast, serving in the altar or singing in the choir.


At St. Vladimir’s, he sang under Vladimir Tarkan, the parish’s long time choir director, who sparked his interest in choir directing and the traditions of the Russian émigré singers, especially those from the German displaced persons camps of World War II.


In 1993, Deacon Alexander began directing the choir in the newly formed English-language mission in the lower church of St. Vladimir’s. An accomplished high school musician, he saw the need for music arranged in English, and began to adapt music for the services. In 2001, Deacon Alexander became the choir director at St. Innocent Church in Carol Stream, IL, and in 2005 was appointed as the choir director at St. Sergius Cathedral in Cleveland, OH. In this position, he expanded the already rich choral traditions at the cathedral, as well as in the community, through concerts and festive choirs.


In 2011, he was ordained to the diaconate by His Grace, Bishop Peter of Cleveand, and currently serves at St. George Orthodox Church in Cincinnati, OH, where he also acts as an assistant choir director. Deacon Alexander organized and directed the choirs for the ROCOR celebrations of the 1025th anniversary of the Baptism of Russia and the 1000th anniversary of the repose of St. Vladimir, as well as the Great Consecration of three churches in the past three years.


He was the first chair of the Liturgical Music Committee of the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America, and continues to serve on the committee, sharing his extensive knowledge of repertoire and rubrics with church singers across the country. Currently, he is enjoying the new experience of being a mature non-traditional student at the University of Cincinnati, as well as singing with the Cincinnati Camerata under the direction of Brett Scott.

Assistant Director: Peter Drobac

Peter Drobac has a BSc (molecular plant biology) from the University of Toronto, and an Masters of Divinity and Masters of Art in liturgical music from St. Vladimir's Seminary. He currently works as cantor and choir director at the parish attached to St. John the Compassionate Mission in Toronto, a pan-Orthodox service under the auspices of the Carpatho-Russian Diocese to serve those in Toronto who are in need.


Peter has worked extensively with the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Eastern America and the Orthodox Church in America’s Department of Liturgical Music and translations to provide English language adaptations of Serbian chant. He runs a monthly series out of Trinity College chapel at U of T - Sacred Music in a Sacred Space - presenting liturgical and para-liturgical music from East and West that rarely finds itself performed in Canada. He has also co-curated large-scale interactive installations involving chant and spoken word performers in conjunction with Nuit Blanche, an annual all-night arts festival in Toronto.


Forum Panelist: Demetra Durham

Demetra is a graduate of Concordia College and St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity degree, cum laude, and certificate of Liturgical Music. She received special commendation for her graduate thesis, “A Manual for Teaching Children Church Music.”


Demetra has been directing choirs for over 40 years, and has had parish experience in the Antiochian Archdiocese, the OCA, and ROCOR. She recently helped begin a local pan-Orthodox choir in the Houston area, which had its premiere performance, “Let My Prayer Arise,” in October 2015. She is currently the choir director at St. Jonah Orthodox Church in Spring, Texas.


Forum Panelist: Michelle Julylia Jannakos

Michelle was born in Cleveland, OH and attended St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral. She re-activated the SSS Njegos Choir and directed before attending St. Vladimir's Seminary where she received a Certificate in Liturgical Music.


She also has a BBA in Management, MA in Curriculum and Instruction and an Education Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership.  Married to the Archpriest Paul Jannakos, she has directed parish choirs and youth choirs in Ohio, Michigan and Montana for over 30 years. Michelle has been active with the departments and All American Councils of the Orthodox Church in America and also co-founded/directed the Orthodox Chorale of Detroit with Valerie Yova.  


For the past thirteen years, Michelle has taught K-2 music in the Grand Blanc Community Schools. Fr. Paul and Michelle are currently assigned to St. Luke Orthodox Church in Palos Hills, IL and are looking forward to new musical adventures in the Chicagoland area.


Panel Discussion Participants on the symposium theme of: Orthodox Liturgical Music:
Finding Beauty and Prayer in the English-Speaking World

Father Ivan Moody, John Michael Boyer, Demetra Durham, Michelle Jannakos, Dr. Kurt Sander, and Larissa Kaminsky Sander.




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