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ISOCM Members Participate in Orthodox Church Festival

Joensuu, Finland – Members of the International Society for Orthodox Church Music (ISOCM) recently participated in the Festival of Finnish Orthodox Church “Church – the Hope of the Creation” which took place here 11-13 June 2010.

Among the more than 2,000 guests and visitors was His All Holiness, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and Ecumenical Patriarch, who concelebrated Vespers and Divine Liturgy with Finnish clergy during the festival. Click here to read the text of the homily given by His All Holiness at the conclusion of the service.

At right: Maria Takala-Roszczenko, ISOCM secretary, assisted by Pavel Moshnikov at the church music stall of the OrthBazaar.

The ISOCM was well-represented at the Festival through its members. ISOCM member Jaakko Olkinuora joined chanters from Thessalonica and Athens, Greece to sing during the Patriarchal Liturgy which also included the premiere of liturgical music composed by one of ISOCM’s founding member, Jopi Harri. The liturgy was broadcast live on Finnish radio.

ISOCM members were prominently featured during the Festival’s concerts of Orthodox church music. The Choir of Orthodox Cantors presented hymns during its programme including compositions by ISOCM members Roman Hurko, James Chater, Mikko Sidoroff, Timo Ruottinen, and three premiere compositions by Heikki Hattunen, who has studied composition under the guidance of Fr Ivan Moody, ISOCM Board Chairman.

At right: Jaakko Olkinuora with members of the choir chanting the Paraklesis in the church of the Orthodox Seminary.

While the Festival provided members of the Finnish Orthodox Church and ISOCM to connect with participants from neighboring countries and other religious traditions, it also offered many participants their first opportunity to experience Orthodox church music, and in particular, Byzantine chant sung in Finnish.

A concert of Byzantine music was also presented by Mr. Olkimuora and the cantors from Greece who also sang antiphonally with a female choir under the direction of Maria Takala-Roszczenko, ISOCM secretary during a Paraklesis to the Theotokos. The service was celebrated in Finnish at the Church of St. John the Theologian, on the campus of the Orthodox Seminary in Joensuu. ISOCM members also participated in the music festival’s OrthBazaar by offering resources for purchase, including past conference proceedings, and recordings.

Organizers hope to hold another festival in five years, which will correspond with the annual Youth Festival which takes place on the same schedule, and is attended by Orthodox youth from across Finland.

The chanters from Greece were particularly impressed with the high standard of church music in Finland, and the commitment and reverence shown towards singing in the church – sensing an understanding by those singing of the importance of their role in prayer.

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