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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

Workshops & Practica

Workshops and Practica sessions during the ISOCM's 2016 Pan-Orthodox Music Symposium will take place at St. Mary's Orthodox Cathedral, 1629 and 1701 NE 5th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55413 unless otherwise noted.


Thursday 23 June 2016 / 2:30 pm

Byzantine Music for Congregational Singing 

- Practicum 1a / Leader: John Boyer

To many, it would seem that the traditions of Byzantine Music and congregational singing are mutually exclusive. How can a congregation sing all together if their traditional music is full of “non-standard” tuning, “irregular” meter and “virtuosic” ornamentation? In the New World, the solution to this perceived problem has largely been to “correct” Byzantine Music’s tuning to conform to equal temperment, to “simplify” its meter to fit into regular time signatures, and to “purify” its melodies to remove any trace of virtuosic ornamentation. The result has been a set of melodies perhaps still distantly rooted in the Byzantine repertoire but that has diverged so far from the received tradition so as to be no longer recognizable as “the same thing.”Focusing on those elements of the Divine Liturgy that, in the Byzantine Tradition, are meant for congregational singing, this workshop will explore the received melodic repertoire in its original Greek and in adapted arrangements for English. Complete with its own traditional tuning, meter, and ornamentation, we will learn how the simultaneously simple and profound melodies of the received tradition can serve as the perfect musical language for corporate worship, encouraging, rather than discouraging congregational singing


Working With Youth: Relationships, Recruitment, and a Kinesthetic Approach to Sound 

  - Practicum 1b / Leader: Juliana Woodill

This session will feature strategies and tips for both choral directors and singers working with young voices - recruitment, retention, building relationships, and working specifically with young voices in liturgical services.


The importance of relationships cannot be understated in terms of youth and their willingness to sing. We will explore ways to connect with them both in and outside of church. Additionally, we will discuss ways in which choral community changes sound and how to build a strong community of sound in young voices.


The session will also explore the ways in which gesture impacts and enhances beautiful choral singing with any size and age ensemble. A kinesthetic approach to sound and music learning can help any director be more successful in working with youth. It can improve their sound, and broaden a conductor’s gestural approach.


Several different techniques for using movement and kinesthetics in a rehearsal context will be explored and can be used with all choirs in the context of Orthodox liturgical practice.


Friday 24 June 2016 / 2:45 pm

Liturgically-informed Aesthetics in Chant Pedagogy and Performance

  - Practicum 2a / Leader: Dr. Nicoletta Freedman

The preferred techniques and practical aesthetics of good church singing differ among traditions, cultures, communities, and individuals. While it is nevertheless useful to discuss practical matters of musical pedagogy – vocal technique, texts, language, and the like – a theological approach is essential and even encompasses the aforementioned aspects.


In any given context, educators and singers should be aware of the iconography, significance, and purpose—in patristic terms, the logoi of repertoire, its texts, and its sounds. Patristic texts and contemporary fieldwork show that, even if there are practical musical or linguistic deficiencies, the result from this approach is still useful, and more important, this approach in fact generally leads to well-retained, well-executed chant material in the first place. It may also inform aesthetic decisions and cause us to question, revise, and improve the same.


In other instances, e.g. concerts by non-Orthodox ensembles, notes, words, timbre, dynamics, and  other musical details may be well-executed by singers, yet the efficacy of the result may be almost entirely up to the spiritual work and understanding of directing or listening worshipers. Theological and liturgical consciousness thus allows singers and listeners to make themselves into materials and tools for, and perceivers of, divine energies.


Various kinds of knowledge and work co-operate with grace, and the liturgical experience embodies and transmits grace in other contexts, e.g. the home and the concert setting,  and directs the balance and types of effort and information in the classroom and rehearsal space. Oral tradition and fieldwork provide examples that can guide such in practice, and good order, constant learning, and prayer are the most important human contributions.


Key Elements for Working With Established Choirs

  - Practicum 2b / Leader: John Black

Parish choirs have an inherient responsibility to keep the liturgical life of parishes alive and dynamic through their singing. For established choirs, this may mean combining existing repertoire with new settings as needed based on evolving membership, musical abilities, and voicing.


Both directors and singers have to understand their roles and how they must work together with conciliarity to refine, enhance, and when necessary, smooth rough edges to achieve expectations for a healthy liturgical experience for all members of the community. The workshop will be interactive and provide information which can help create a more prayerful and sonorous sound for your choir, helping both singers and directors alike.


Friday 24 June 2016 / 7:00 pm

New Music Reading Session

  - Leader: John Black

North America is a unique setting for Orthodox liturgical music since it features a diverse collection of ethnic traditions and musical styles. This provides us with a unique opportunity to learn from and share our traditions for a universal experience of Orthodoxy.


This workshop will allow symposium participants to submit up to two (2) compositions and arrangements of Orthodox liturgical music which are used in their parish's liturgical services. All of the settings submitted will be included in a special booklet of music distributed to participants of the 2016 Pan-Orthodox Music Symposium.


Learn more here, and to submit your musical selections for this workshop.


Saturday 25 June 2016 / 1:45 pm

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

Featuring the symposium's keynote and presentation speakers, this panel discussion will consider the important aspects of the liturgical services and the music we use, sharing their thoughts on what enables a choir to sing beautifully and prayerfully.


Those in attendance will be invited to ask questions of the panelists, as the session provides ample opportunity to consider the future of Orthodox liturgical music in the English speaking world. 




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