Last week the Fellowship’s summer series of virtual visits to monasteries began with a session on Holy Dormition St Nicholas-St Basil Monastery in Nikolskoe, Donetsk Region in Ukraine.
This week on Thursday 6 August, join professional storyteller Anna Conomos for a visit to Annunciation Monastery, Ormylia, Greece. Discover for yourself why this place is so special by attending: register for Zoom details on our dedicated page.
If you cannot join us on the day, we hope to post a recording shortly after the session. Come and see!
Fellowship Chairman Margaret Haig attended the virtual conference co-hosted by the International Society for Orthodox Church Music (ISOCM) and St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in New York. It was creative, thought-provoking, spiritual, practical, and fun! Personal reflections will appear in Forerunner in due course.
Yonkers, NY – Over 200 church musicians from Europe, Australia, and North America gathered in online presentations and discussions exploring the theme of “Music as Liturgy.” The 3-day event was co-hosted by the International Society for Orthodox Church Music (ISOCM) and St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (SVS).
As choirs and churches around the globe face the uncertainty of how to remain physically safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, participants at the 2020 Pan-Orthodox Music Symposium looked at the question of how clergy, faithful, and in particular singers and chanters “do the liturgy.”
“I have never taken part in a music event outside of my parish before now, so the Introduction to Liturgical Conducting Masterclass has given me confidence to conduct when our two choir directors are not available,” said David Galloway of St John of the Ladder Orthodox Church, Greenville, SC, “I have made connections with many Orthodox conductors and music educators to help me learn even more.”
The work of church musicians has become particularly difficult in 2020 with the pandemic restricting both the method and number of church musicians who can sing responses during liturgical services. One of the most attended sessions during this year’s Symposium explored ways to move forward in a post-pandemic world.
“While many of our churches and schools have been partially or completely closed, the pandemic is challenging us to find ways to pray and make music while also taking care of one another,” according to Robin Freeman, Director of Music, St. Vladimir’s Seminary, and member of the Symposium organizing committee. “This online Symposium highlighted for many of us the growing possibilities of technology for teaching, learning, and making music together.”
While participants were unable to gather in person to celebrate the All-Night Vigil and Divine Liturgy, this year’s event featured masterclasses on 8 different topics to develop skillsets in advance of a return to the kliros and choir lofts in their home parishes.
Coursework, led by Dr. Peter Jermihov, Chicago, IL, Dr. Tamara Petijevic, Novi Sad, Serbia, John Boyer, Portland, OR, and Nazo Zakkak, San Diego, CA, and others explored conducting at varying levels of experience, vocal technique, Byzantine chant, composition, and engaging young people with church music.
“The conference addressed both the spiritual and technical issues that we face as church musicians.,” said Ruth Rutledge, head chanter at St Barnabas Orthodox Church, Costa Mesa, CA, adding, “The spirit of charity and genuine care was very evident among all the speakers who were of the highest caliber and professional excellence. It was a beautiful, profound, and practical three days of education and time to contemplate the larger perspective of our work in the church.”
Dr. Susan Ashbrook Harvey of Brown University offered a keynote presentation titled “Ancient Models from Ancient Syriac Christianity” wherein she explored how musical traditions were shaped by liturgical experience and are carried forward into today’s worship among Syriac Christians.
Other presentations included “The Rites of Hagia Sophia” by Dr. Alexander Lingas of City, University of London; a piano performance by Dr. Paul Barnes, “A Bright Sadness,” featuring original piano selections written by Victoria Bond, David von Kampen, Philip Glass and Father Ivan Moody, inspired by Orthodox chant, and a second keynote presentation by Protopresbyter Ivan Moody exploring the theme in reverse, “Liturgy as Music.”
This year’s Symposium was dedicated to the life and work of the Archpriest Sergei Glagolev, the noted priest and musician who led efforts beginning in the 1950s to exclusively use English throughout the church year. A commemorative video was shown (https://youtu.be/xTPmf96wYV0) and Father Sergei offered greetings to attendees during a special live session at this year’s event.
“It would be difficult to imagine a more successful Symposium, and the extraordinary fact of its occurring in the present challenging circumstances seems only to have made participants the more inspired,” said Father Ivan, chairman of the ISOCM. He added, “it is to be hoped that this pan-jurisdictional event will inspire further work that brings people together in this way – one of the central aims of ISOCM – working for the glory of God.”
With a record number of participants attending this year’s Symposium, representing nearly every Orthodox jurisdiction in North America across 39 states, and attending from 12 countries, organizers expect future events will be considered in the coming months.
Encouraged by the positive engagement by participants, organizers suggested an openness to new, positive possibilities, allowing the Holy Spirit to work within us, guiding our efforts to be more attuned to each other – musically and personally – with hope in God blessing our effort in building up the universal Church through sacred liturgical music.
About the International Society for Orthodox Church Music
Founded in 2005, the ISOCM seeks to provide an open platform for musicians, musicologists, singers, and composers that encourages dialogue, the exchange of information and ideas, and inspires cooperation. The Society sees the promotion of communication between East and West as one of its priorities and hosts biannual conferences, at the University of Eastern Finland on its Joensuu campus. The Society also hosts regional symposia and gatherings elsewhere throughout the world to help create opportunities for collaboration and the sharing of knowledge in the field of Orthodox liturgical music.
About St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary
St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary serves Christ, his Church, and the world through Orthodox Christian theological education, research, and scholarship, and the promotion of inter-Orthodox cooperation. The pan-Orthodox graduate school of theology within the canonical jurisdiction of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) is located in New York’s Westchester County. The Seminary’s programs are registered by the New York State Education Department and are accredited nationally by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada. The Seminary grants the degrees of Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.), Master of Theology (Th.M.), Master of Divinity (M.Div.), and Master of Arts (M.A.). The seminary’s Institute of Sacred Arts www.instituteofsacredarts.com makes events like the Symposium possible for the general public.
The Fellowship events in 2019 have begun with an excellent study weekend 1-3 February hosted by the welcoming Parish of St Demetrios in Edmonton, North London. [The photographs in this post are all from that event and we appreciate the parish allowing us to use them.] The study weekend was on the theme of “Truth, Love and Fellowship in the Epistles of Saint John“. We heard from Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia, who introduced the epistles to us. The main themes were taken up by different speakers: Dr Krastu Banev focussed on Fellowship; Fr Chrysostomos Tympas spoke about Truth; and Fr Kristian Akselberg spoke on Love. But our discussions were far wider and included baptism, the influence of the saints in our lives, prayer for others, how we should treat other Christians and non-Christians, art, how to love, and a whole host of other issues. It was a great start to our year! We thank Fr John Hookway and all the Parish for generously hosting the weekend.
And this was only the start! The Youth branch will be having their annual festival 24-27 May for 18-35 year olds on “Discovering Orthodoxy through our Saints“, held at the Othona community in Bradwell-on-Sea, Essex.
We would love for you to join us at our summer conference, 19-21 July at the Hayes Conference Centre in Derbyshire, where we will be discussing the intriguing topic of “40 things you didn’t know about Orthodoxy“. It is a special event, our 40th anniversary conference, so please come and help us celebrate, join in spiritual fellowship, and learn some new things about the faith! OFSJB 2019 summer conference application form
In September, we hope to have a meal in Oxford close to the feast of the Conception of St John the Baptist, at which all will be welcome. More details to come!
Don’t forget, the Women’s Ministries Initiative hold their own events such as study days, and the Mosaic Choir will be performing in various places at various times. If you know of other events that we should include on our calendar, please let us know.
Come and see!
Students from the Greek School perform
The eminent panel at the study weekend
Worshipping together in the Church of St Demetrios
On Thursday 2nd March at 7.30pm the Mosaic Choir will be holding a fundraising concert for the work of Fr Themi Adamopoulos, missionary in Sierra Leone. The venue is the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Dormition of the Mother of God (St. Mary’s), Trinity Road, Wood Green, London N22.
Father Themi will also speak briefly about his mission and work with Ebola orphans.
Father Themi will also be visiting Oxford and Birmingham.
Meet the rocker, who became a missionary in Africa
During the time of the Beatles and of the Rolling Stones, he managed to form his own musical group, The Flies. From the seminar halls of the School of Political Science of the University of Melbourne, he found himself singing next to Mick Jagger, and so realized his dream, but now he is a missionary in Africa.
Father Themis Adamopoulos, chose to help those who really need it. As he says after his studies, “I could feel a vast emptiness within me, I was not with the poor. I did not need to struggle at the time with myself. Inside me a desire flared up to live next to the poor and to do whatever possible to make their life more human. ”
In 1999 I began my work in Kenya with the blessing of his Beatitude the Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, Peter, who first ordained me as a deacon, then Priest and then Archimandrite”. That is where he founded the first Orthodox University College – the Orthodox Teacher’s College of Africa. “I believe education is the greatest weapon for a person on earth. If you wish to help your fellow person, teach him the skill to fish and not give him the fish already prepared. At the college we prepared youngsters to become kindergarten and elementary school teachers. Subsequently, we introduced a branch with Social Studies.”
He tries to provide as much as possible for the children, clothes, shoes, meals and following on from this he cares for women and mothers. “Woman is the greatest victim in Africa. She is the heart of the family. The husband can have two or three wives and have children with all of them. The woman is the one who would even sell her body for a piece of bread, so that her children do not die of hunger. That is why we opened a School for Sewing, where women learn the art and earn their bread honestly”
Then in 2007, the new Patriarch of Alexandria, Theodore, who had followed the work of missionary and humanitarian Themis Adamopoulos in Kenya, ordered him to go to West Africa, to Sierra Leone, where a 12 year civil war had devastated the whole region leaving behind untold horrors, where death is a part of daily life. He lives there, next to the people and among to the people. “Over there we are building a village for 100 disabled people who were begging in the streets and the police would chase them away”.
Father Themi, carried on his mission right through the worst aspects of the Ebola crisis that had started in March 2014. He tried to help in anyway he could. Now the crisis is thankfully over, but Father Themis continues with his work – now building orphanages for those who tragically lost all the adults in their family from the epidemic.
On Friday the 16th of December the Mosaic Choir brought the spirit of Christmas to North London with a beautifully executed and uplifting performance of traditional Christmas songs and Carols from Greece, Russia, Romania, Serbia and other places around the world, spreading the joy of Christmas. Voices were wonderfully balanced and blended, often accompanied by folksy recorder pieces masterfully played by Rebecca Vucetic. Story teller, Anna Conomos, gave helpful introductions telling the story of the song and the meaning behind the words.
The choir performed a full range of music from peaceful hymns to foot tapping Balkan carols, rounded off with a stunning encore of Gaudete, sung with wonderful dynamics from sotto voce to a rousing final chorus. The choir were warmly received with a standing ovation and loud applause – it really added a bit of warmth to a cold winter night.
They were hosted by the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Andrew, and the concert was attended by Bishop Chrysostom of Kyanea and introduced by Priest Kristian Akselburg – who warmly thanked the choir. At the end a charity collection was held – the proceeds to be shared between charities supported by the Fellowship and also the Cathedral’s Christmas almsgiving.
Here is a brief taste of the concert through some amateur videos.
Join the Mosaic Choir for our annual celebration of Christmas around Europe and beyond! We will be singing carols from Canada, France, Greece, Romania, Serbia, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and more! Free entry with a retiring collection.
Come to a Carol Concert with a difference! Experience a concert with a true international flavour which will have some familiar favourites but also a real international and folk feel, with carols from Romania, Greece, Ukraine, France and other countries, too.
The Mosaic Choir was formed under the umbrella of the Fellowship of Saint John the Baptist and is made up of Orthodox people from a variety of backgrounds: cradle Orthodox and converts, and from countries all over the world!
We also sing liturgical Christmas music from different traditions, during what will be a very relaxed evening.
If you’re in London and want a unique musical experience for Christmas come along and tell your friends!
Sunday 13 December, 7:30pm, Free entry with retiring collection