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ISOCM Members Participate in Pan-Orthodox Liturgical Music Symposium

Cincinnati, Ohio - Over seventy composers, directors, musicians, and singers from across North America attended the first ever symposium Pan-Orthodox Liturgical Music Symposium in the United States dedicated solely to the topic of composing for Orthodox communities. Sponsored by Northern Kentucky University (NKU) and the Farrah Foundation, the symposium began by asking the question: “How can we cultivate a living Orthodox music tradition in the English-speaking world?”

Among those in attendance were ISOCM members, Dn Gregory Ealy, Roman and Carmen Hurko, and board member David Lucs.

The Symposium was organized by Dr. Kurt Sander, chair of the department of music at NKU, Larissa Kaminsky Sander, and the Rev. Deacon Alexander Petrovsky, all members of the Liturgical Music Committee of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR)'s Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America.

Archpriest Sergei Glagolev, a renowned priest and composer of liturgical music presented the keynote address, speaking about the role of music as a form of prayer.

Father Sergei's presentation included reflections on his life and experiences over the past seventy years as a young choir director, composer, professor, parish priest, and member of the Orthodox Church. Touching on the importance of form follows function, Father Glagolev also urged those in attendance to seek out the beauty of sacred music and take responsibility for bringing the beauty of our church to life for those who are seeking the divine in our beloved Orthodox church. He noted that some visitors will 'come and see,' while others will 'come and hear' and church musicians must remember the missionary role of their labors in church.

The symposium also included presentations by Dr. Vladimir Morosan on applying Znamenny chant formulas to the English language, Dr. Nicolas Schidlovsky who explored the cultural, theoretical, and historical signposts necessary for an Orthodox compositional identity; Richard Barrett, who gave a presentation on the marriage of English language with Byzantine chant models, and David Lucs who spoke on the importance of encouraging youth to participate in the life of the church through chant and liturgical music.

In addition to the presentations, participants attended a concert by the East/West Festival Choir, under the direction of Dr. Peter Jermihov, music director at St. Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois. The thirty-voice choir presented a diverse selection of recently composed liturgical music by American Orthodox composers, some who were in attendance.

The Symposium concluded with the celebration of the All-Night Vigil and a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at St. George Russian Orthodox Church, Cincinnati, Ohio, celebrated by His Grace, Bishop Peter of Cleveland (ROCOR). In keeping with the theme of the conference, both services nearly exclusively featured settings of liturgical music composed within the last seventy-five years using the English language.

Based on the response of those in attendance, plans are being reviewed to consider the possibility of organizing another gathering to build upon the theme, enthusiasm and support of participants, and growing interest and needs of the Orthodox Church in North America.

A slideshow of photos is available here:

A video of the symposium is available here:

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