June 8, 2020

Yonkers, NY – Orthodox Christians are often considered the most traditional of Christians, yet the latest technology is making it possible for an international gathering of Orthodox church musicians to take place during the COVID-19 global pandemic, exploring and preparing for the future of Orthodox Church Music.

Participants at the 3-day online 2020 Pan-Orthodox Music Symposium will explore the theme of “Music as Liturgy” beginning Thursday, June 11.

The event, co-sponsored by The International Society for Orthodox Church Music (ISOCM) and St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (SVS), will feature masterclasses, presentations, and...

May 6, 2016

A few months ago, a fascinating article was shared via npr.org on Facebook entitled, “When Choirs Sing, Many Hearts Beat as One.” It was an interesting research study done at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden on the heart rates of high school students as they sang together in a choir. The study findings confirmed that choir music has a calming effect on the heart.

 

In one of the responses, Frederica Matthewes-Green commented, “When people sing together, their heartbeats slow down and synchronize almost immediately. It's obvious, but I never thought about it: singing is a form of guided breathing; we inhale and exhale together, and o...

April 7, 2016

Within the body of repertoire we call the “psaltic art” or “Byzantine chant”, there is a sublimely beautiful genre called the kalophonic (literally “beautiful voice”) irmos. Since the genre emerged in its current form between the end of the 16th and the end of the 17th centuries, it has served as the psaltic art’s highest level of musical, artistic, and vocal expression. For 500 years, composers have set sacred texts to long, melismatic, ornamented lines and extremes of range, spinning out musical beauty of amazing complexity.

 

It is an important enough genre that at least one representative example from the genre is required on reperto...

December 17, 2015

As a newborn, I didn’t breathe for my first two weeks.  Perhaps I just didn’t feel like it, I don’t really know the reason.  As a result, I was hooked up to a machine that took all the blood out of my body, oxygenated it, and then put it back in.  Thinking about it now, it’s pretty cool.  It sounds like something out of Star Trek.  It went on for a week or two.  The only real human interaction I had during that time was with my dad.  He would sit next to the contraption I was isolated in and sing to me.  Just sing.  Eventually, I came home from the hospital.  Home was filled with music.  My parents, my dad especially, wou...

November 17, 2015

The use of sung hymns to open our hearts to God is as ancient as the people of God themselves.  In fact, the Book of Psalms is frequently referred to as the hymn book of the church and instructs us to “Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous;” (Ps 33:1a) and to “Praise in the assembly of his faithful people” (Ps 149:1b). The Psalms even teach us that creation itself praises God for His wonders, “The heavens shall praise thy wonders, O Lord: thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints” (Ps 89:5).

 

We Bless You from the House of the Lord

But the psalmist isn’t suggesting that we praise God, instead the Psalms identify prai...

November 17, 2015

There is not a single liturgical service in the Orthodox Church which does not use chanting and singing extensively. Why is the Church’s worship expressed in song? The Orthodox Liturgy begins with the exclamation: "Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit ..." With these words we are invited to "come and see," to enter into and experience the foretaste of a heavenly reality, the Kingdom of heaven on earth, which manifests itself in the Church’s liturgy. In this reality there is already expressed a transformation of our present world and of us who dwell in it. We are not simply inhabitants living in a particular spot on the...

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