On Saturday, November 9, 2013 twelve members of the English Choir of St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Cathedral, Washington, DC (ROCOR), arrived at St. Tikhon’s to begin a two-day retreat and workshop with St. Tikhon’s choirmaster Benedict Sheehan.
Over the course of the weekend the choir attended services for the monastery’s wonderworking icon, “She Who is Quick to Hear;" attended several rehearsal sessions; received instruction in vocal technique; attended lectures on church singing from Igumen Sergius, the Abbot of St. Tikhon’s Monastery, and joined the St. Tikhon’s mixed choir in singing Vigil and Liturgy in the monastery church. St. John’s English Choir’s director, Paula Genis, also received personal instruction in conducting technique from Mr. Sheehan.
Among the topics covered during the workshop were the importance of powerfully conveying the sacred texts; the spiritual work of the church singer; singing with a bright sound; the relationship of obedience in love between the choir and the conductor; singing with clean intonation; and the need for church musicians to always strive for excellence, whatever their abilities.
The choir returned to Washington greatly edified, and expressed a desire to make the workshop a regular event. Likewise, the St. Tikhon’s community was inspired by the true and devoted hearts of each of these co-laborers in the Lord’s vineyard, and wishes all God’s blessings upon the choirs of St. John the Baptist Cathedral, as well as its rector, Fr. Victor Potapov, who graciously released the choir for the weekend, and all the faithful clergy and members of the St. John’s Cathedral community.