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The Fifth Pan-European Orthodox Liturgical Music Conference

"Beauty in Divine Services:

the Practice of Choral Singing"

(celebrating the anniversaries of A.A. Arkhangelsky and A.V. Nikolsky)


The Fifth Pan-European Orthodox Liturgical Music Conference took place from January 25 to 28, 2024, in London at the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God and the Holy Royal Martyrs.

As usual, the participants joined together in a choir to sing two hierarchical services over the weekend (Vigil and Liturgy), under the direction of highly qualified conductors. Most of the pieces chosen for the services were composed by A.A. Arkhangelsky and A.V. Nikolsky, whose anniversaries we celebrate this year. Preparatory general rehearsals served not only to expand participants’ repertoire but to impart useful practical knowledge so necessary for the beautification of our church services on the European continent. Participants had the opportunity to try themselves as conductors of a large choir and receive valuable instructions from leading experts in this field. Participants listened to interesting lectures and discussed common problems. Several workshops had a more practical approach with the work on the correct singing of sticheras and automela, and an antiphonal singing. There were also separate workshops on reading in church.

The event was open to choir directors, singers, readers, and all people interested in Russian Orthodox liturgical music.

The majority of people were able to take part in all four days. However, there was a small number of people who joined only for three or two days, or for particular sessions. All total the event drew around fifty participants. While the main working language of the conference was Russian, we offered synchronous translation to English over the course of four days, so that non-Russian speakers could also benefit from this event. Participants who benefited from the translation expressed their appreciation; their attendance showed that church music education is in high demand across all Orthodox communities in Europe, not just in Russian-speaking parishes. This year participants came from the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Denmark, Belgium, and Switzerland, as well as from Canada and the United States.


The following lectures were delivered:

  • «Liturgical singing and its “churchiness” in the thought of archpriest Michael Fortunato» (Fr. M. Leszczynski);

  • «The concept of beauty in hymnography» (Fr. I. Drobot);

  • «The spiritual composers A. Arkhangelsky and A. Nikolsky: Creative portraits in a historical backdrop» (Dr. S. Zvereva).


Several workshops and roundtable discussions were organised:

  • Workshop «The interpretation of sacred compositions» (Fr. I. Drobot);

  • Roundtable «Raising future singers: The younger generation» (moderators: Drs. S. Zvereva, I. du Quenoy);

  • Seminar «Womens’ choirs: Singing in parishes and monasteries» (Dr. I. du Quenoy, mother Juliania Boschman);


Outcome of the event:

As it has in previous years, the Conference was an extremely important event, both in terms of improving church singing in European parishes and in terms of strengthening spiritual ties between singers / choir conductors. On top of that it provided people with the vitally important opportunity to gather together after a period of uncertainty and to provide a chance to work, to sing, to share their concerns, and to improve their skill levels.

One of the most important aspects of this year’s Conference was the spirit of unity amongst the participants and speakers, and the mutual desire to improve the quality of singing and to maintain traditions, to develop new skills, and experience a level of singing rare in our small parishes. Furthermore, it was noted by many attendees that the general level of participants (musical and spiritual) was very high this year, indicating that Committee’s work is on the right path as we continue to address the choral/musical needs of parishes across Europe.

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