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International Conference on Orthodox Church Music Concludes

Joensuu, Finland – The Third International Conference on Orthodox Church Music, hosted at the University of Joensuu, Finland by the International Society for Orthodox Church Music (ISOCM) concluded Sunday, June 14. During the conference, speakers from fourteen countries made presentations on topics related to the role of Church, State, and Nation in Liturgical Music.

“The Third Conference enjoyed the international, simultaneously academic, and festive atmosphere of the previous editions,” according to the Rev. Ivan Moody, ISOCM Board Chairman, “The sessions were accompanied by the usual rich cycle of liturgical celebrations at the seminary church, affording practical demonstration of the depth and variety of the traditions represented here.”

During the conference, the Society also held their annual meeting, at which a new Board was elected to work with the chairman to further the work and resources of the ISOCM. Elected to the Board are: Ardian Ahmedaja a researcher on Albanian church music, Yulia Artamonova a member of the Russian Orthodox Church, David Lucs a member of the Orthodox Church in America, and Petri Nykänen a member of the Finnish Orthodox Church. Maria Takala-Roszczenko of the Finnish Orthodox Church will continue to serve as ISOCM Secretary.

“The Board has already initiated discussion on new projects for the Society,” said Fr. Moody, “including the formation of an American chapter for the Society and the publication of an online Journal. These topics and others will be discussed by the Board in the coming months.”

During the conference, the Society was honored to have His Eminence, Archbishop Leo, of Karelia and All Finland join them, and presented him with the first copy of the newly-published Proceedings from the previous ISOCM conference held in 2007.

Archbishop Leo welcomed the participants saying, “On this occasion I would like to underline the importance of encouraging young people to step into the inspiration of the Orthodox choral world.” He added, “Of course each country and culture has its own specific challenges and advantages. Our common goal is to think, how our musical tradition is given for the next generation. I believe that we must analyze this topic also in order to be credible in our work. The participation of the young people is the cornerstone of the orthodox choral world in the future.”

It was with the blessing of Archbishop Leo that the ISOCM was founded in 2005 after the initial conference, to raise the standards for Orthodox church music, and to extend the knowledge of and foment creativity within Orthodox church singing. A second conference was held in 2007.

This year’s conference began on Monday, June 8 with remarks from Teuvo Pohjolainen, the Vice-Rector of the University of Joensuu, who said, “I have been honoured to bring the University’s opening words to every international conference on the Orthodox Church music which have been organized here in Joensuu. Every time I have found that the honourable speakers of the conference are experts of the highest level.”

Recognizing the recent increase in scholarly activity related to Orthodox church music, and the ever-increasing accessibility of archival materials, the ISOCM strives to assist these efforts by organizing further practical, theoretical and bibliographical projects.

“ISOCM conferences are unique gatherings, because they provide cantors, scholars, and performers from both East and West with a neutral meeting place to gather, discuss, and share in the understanding of the liturgical music traditions from different local Orthodox Churches, cultures, and languages,” said Fr. Moody, “Dialogue among conference participants reinforces the unity of Orthodoxy in a visible way. Ideas and music are exchanged. Joint projects are developed which lead to deeper and lasting international co-operation in this field, thus avoiding unnecessary duplication of effort.”

Among the highlights of the conference was the frequent sharing of chant examples from various national traditions by participants during sessions and divine services, and a reception hosted by the city of Joensuu, honoring the ISOCM. The conference concluded on Sunday, June 14 with a farewell reception following the celebration of the Divine Liturgy at the 19th century Church of St. Nicholas, Joensuu, Finland.

Conference photos will be made available on the ISOCM website in the coming weeks at: 2009 Conference page

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