From 12-16 June, St. Sophia Seminary hosted a retreat on Ukrainian Orthodox chanting and choir directing. All the participants agreed that it should be the first of many; Lord willing, that will be the case!
V. Rev. Victor Wronskyj (Sts. Peter and Paul, West Islip NY), Pani Matka Ivanka Wronskyj (Sts. Peter and Paul, West Islip NY), Sdn. Christopher Brennan (Sts. Peter and Paul, West Islip NY), Julieanne Marra (St. John the Baptist, Johnson City, NY), Michael Komichak (Holy Ascension, Maplewood NJ), Daria Pishko (Holy Ascension, Maplewood NJ), Rdr. James McGowan (Pokrova, Allentown PA), and Rdr. Nicholas Perkins (Pokrova, Allentown PA) received personalized instruction to match their needs and had opportunities to direct and chant with each other and the seminarians at St. Sophia's.
The days were packed with instruction. Each morning began with the Divine Liturgy, followed by a guided discussion of how the music went, what could be improved, how those improvements might be made, and to field more general questions and concerns. Classes in the mornings and afternoons covered the tone system, how to set words to the music (both setting them and on the fly), and directing. Each evening was capped with a lecture that was open to the general public (see below for links to recordings of the lectures) and evening prayers with the seminarians in the chapel. It was a grueling schedule, but everyone was fortified by the tremendous meals that the seminary cook, Pani Maria, prepared (glory to God!).
This is one of several new programs that St. Sophia's has fielded to meet the demands of the UOC-USA. It came about because several people had voiced the concerns about how hard it is to find chanters and choir directors and still others who have (often reluctantly!) stepped forward to chant and direct had shared their frustrations.
Protodeacon Ihor Mahlay and Maestro Oleh Mahlay have offered a Sacred Music Retreat for several years at All Saints Camp; Oleh had commitments elsewhere, but Protodeacon Ihor was able to come in to St. Sophia's for the entire week. He was our instructor for music appreciation and basic directing. Fr. Siluoan Rolando (Holy Trinity, Goshen IN), a gifted musician who specialized in choral directing in seminary, has experience as a professional choir director, and who runs a website dedicated to sacred music (unmercenary.com), was able to come in for the entire week as well. He was our instructor on the history and mechanics of Ukrainian Orthodox chant and more technical aspects of directing a choir. Both of these instructors brought a real love of the material and were enthusiastic about teaching it to others. Fr. Anthony Perkins (Pokrova, Allentown PA) organized the event.
Our UOC-USA is truly blessed to have instructors and musicians who willing to sacrifice their time and energy to serve, not just for this retreat, but day in day out. May God grant them and all who serve our Church many blessed years!
Recordings of the evening lectures are available via the OrthoAnalytika podcast (http://orthoanalytika.libsyn.com/).
Monday Evening: V. Rev. Anthony Perkins, "Genesis One and the Theology of Music and Liturgy"
Tuesday Evening: Rev. Siluoan Rolando, "The History of Ukrainian Orthodox Chant"
Wednesday Evening: Protodeacon Ihor Mahlay, "Ukrainian Orthodox Music Appreciation"
Thursday Evening (hosted by the St. Sophia Seminary Library): V. Rev. Anthony Perkins, "Gogol's 'Meditations on the Divine Liturgy'"