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The Second Pan-European Orthodox Liturgical Music Conference

"Church Singing in Crisis Conditions"

The Second ROCOR Pan-European Liturgical Music Conference took place from January 28 to 30, 2021. It was organised by the Committee, under the aegis of the Synodal Liturgical Music Commission, with the blessing of Metropolitan Mark of Berlin and Germany and Bishop Irenei of London and Western Europe.

Due to the pandemic, it was decided to hold the conference online via Zoom. This brought with it numerous technical challenges, all of which were ably overcome through the tireless efforts of European Committee member Arseny Kruglov. With God’s help all of the organizational and preparatory work went smoothly and, on January 28, with participants logged in from around the world, the conference was opened with a livestreamed moleben at the church of Holy Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon in Koln, Germany.

The topic of the conference (“Church Singing in Crisis Conditions”) was reflected in the following delivered lectures: “Questions of Liturgical Practice and Church Singing at the Local Council of 1917–18” (Dr. A.A. Andreev); “History of the Russian Church Abroad and Europe and an Overview of Kliros Problems” (Archpriest Nicholai Artemoff); “Alexander Nevsky Cathedral: 20th Century Turmoil and 21st Century Isolation” (Protodeacon Ioann Drobot); “Russian Church Singing during World War II: Russia and the Diaspora” (Dr. S.G. Zvereva); “Preserving Tradition, Illuminating Faith: Exploring the Contributions of Boris M. Ledkovsky (1894–1975)” (E.A. Ledkovsky); and “Church Choirs of Holy Trinity St. Sergius Lavra in the Period from 1946 to 2009” (E.N. Sadikova).

The historical lectures were complemented by presentations on topics of a practical nature: “Fundamentals of Conducting the Church Choir” (master class led by P.A. Fekula), and “Liturgical Singing in the Small Parish: Some Observations from Lockdown” (Archpriest Stephen Platt). Participants showed particular enthusiasm for the workshops “The Eight Tones: Structure and Melodic Models for Church Texts” (M.K. Malinine) and “Aspects of Reading in Church” (Protodeacon Ioann Drobot, P.A. Fekula, M.K. Malinine).

Roundtables included “Organising a Choir in a Small Parish” and “Current Problems on a Kliros,” moderated by European Committee members, including V.V. Kashlyaev and I.A. du Quenoy. The lively discussions at the roundtables, as well as discussions of lectures more generally were joined by such masters of liturgical music and renowned choir directors as A.V. Shipovalnikov and N.A. Myshkin, as well as by the conference’s guest, priest Mikhail Asmus, a member of the faculty at the St. Tikhon Orthodox Humanitarian University.

The Chairman of the Synodal Liturgical Music Commission, Archpriest Andre Papkov, was present throughout the entire conference. In his address to the organisers and participants, Fr. Andre assessed the work of the conference positively and expressed his hope for the continuation of the work begun by the European committee.

An important aspect of the conference involved the provision of simultaneous translation. Throughout the entire event participants had the opportunity to listen to lectures and participate in discussions in three languages: Russian, English, and French. This complicated task was accomplished with the greatly appreciated assistance of Priest Hildo Bos, of the St. Nicholas parish in Amsterdam; as a result of his efforts the translations were performed at a highly professional level.

The conference brought together more than 60 participants, representing various Orthodox jurisdictions of the Russian tradition from 14 countries. The organisers and participants discussed the development of the committee’s work, including plans for continuing annual conferences, monthly online seminars, and the creation of a liturgical music school in Europe. Among the outcomes of the conference was a consensus regarding the importance of maintaining and strengthening the tradition of Obikhod singing on the kliros, as well as attracting children to the church choir from a young age.

Some of the lectures texts* could be found here:

*When using website's materials the reference to the original source is required

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