Speech at the Opening Session of the
Seventh International Conference on Orthodox Church Music, Joensuu, Finland
Madam Chair, Fathers, sisters and brothers in Christ, dear friends,
On behalf of the School of Theology here at the University of Eastern Finland, I have the great joy of welcoming you to the seventh international conference on Orthodox church music, to celebrate the twelve years of the ISOCM!
Once again, the grace of the Holy Spirit has gathered us together – for it is not the academic conference alone, the sharing of knowledge, the exchange of ideas, that brings us here, although this is of course very important; nor is it the companionship of interesting people, prominent scholars, creative composers and charismatic chanters, although such are found here in abundance – I would like to say there is something more that calls out to the world, year after year, and makes it worth for you to take all that trouble to come this far to Joensuu, and it is our unity as one family bound together by love for the Church, her music, liturgy, and traditions.
Regardless of our nationalities, ethnic and cultural heritages, jurisdictions, or manners of celebrating, we are here to learn from each other in mutual respect. Let us make this week another journey to deeper understanding of each other, for it is in times like these we need, more than ever, to strive for unity.
I would like to thank each of you for coming here all the way from India, Australia, Japan, Canada, USA, UK, Russia, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Austria, Germany, Portugal, Italy, Greece, – it is you who make this conference what it is.
I would also like to thank our benefactors and sponsors who have made the organization of this conference possible – the Finnish Cultural Foundation, the Foundation of the University of Joensuu, the Orthodox Church of Finland, the City of Joensuu, and of course the University of Eastern Finland that provides us with this venue.