On the evening of Thursday, March 13, thirty singers and five conductors gathered at St. Xenia's Orthodox Church in Methuen, MA (ROCOR) to take part in a workshop on Orthodox liturgical singing. St. Tikhon's Seminary Choir Director Benedict Sheehan was invited to mentor the conductors and to help prepare the choir to sing the weekend's services, which were presided over by His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad. The workshop included hours of intensive rehearsals under Benedict Sheehan's guidance, a presentation on vocal health by Laryssa Doohovskoy, a video and Skype presentation on the ethos of Lenten services by Dr. Vladimir Morosan, and a Skype master class direct from Moscow with Maestro Vladimir Gorbik, Choirmaster of the Moscow Representation of the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Monastery.
The workshop was an exhilarating experience for all involved. Properly executing Orthodox liturgical music -- that is, executing it both with musical excellence and in a spiritual manner -- requires great effort on the part of musicians. Many of the participants in the workshop said they had never known until now what was required of them, and left deeply inspired. One participant in the workshop wrote of her impressions: "Sublime is the only word that comes to mind when I think of the Lenten Retreat I was a part of." Another wrote: "I am discussing the conference with everyone I meet... You have rekindled my heart for the kliros and helped me to realize that perfection in a choir should not only be a dream, but a reality."
The workshop was organized locally by St. Xenia's parish, but most of the faculty, including Benedict Sheehan, were members of the newly-formed Patriarch Tikhon Russian-American Music Institute (PaTRAM), a non-profit organization founded to promote excellence in Orthodox liturgical singing in North America. St. Tikhon's Seminary will host the next official PaTRAM master class with Vladimir Gorbik from June 30 to July 3, 2014
. For more information about the upcoming master class and about PaTRAM, please visit patraminstitute.org