Musical Style and Tradition in American Orthodox Churches: Chant and Polyphony

This webinar, “Musical Style and Tradition in American Orthodox Churches,” was hosted by Fordham University’s Orthodox Christian Studies Center in a co-presentation with Cappella Romana.

For centuries differences in musical style – especially the distinction between chant (unadorned melody) and polyphony (music sung in multiple parts) – have served Orthodox Christians as aural badges of confessional and ethnic identity. In this panel, a distinguished group of musical practitioners and scholars will explore how stylistic difference in American Orthodox worship relates to the authority of Holy Tradition, the limits of inculturation, and the imperatives of Christian mission.

Panelists

Dorothy Berry

Dorothy Berry

Dorothy Berry is the Digital Collections Program Manager at Houghton Library, Harvard University’s largest repository for rare books and manuscripts. Trained as both an ethnomusicologist and an archivist, her scholarship focuses on African American history and culture, particularly the ways performing arts are integrated and interpreted in and outside of community. As a performer, she studied 20th and 21st century vocal music in the famed experimental music department at Mills College, while singing in Orthodox Church choirs in Slavic and Byzantine traditions.

Kevin Lawrence

Kevin Lawrence

Kevin Lawrence is chair of the string department at University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and artistic director of Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival in Vermont. Active as a choir director and composer of liturgical music since 1985, his choral settings have been used in Orthodox parishes of several jurisdictions in the US, at regional and national gatherings of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, and were sung at the World Council of Churches Assembly in Harare, Zimbabwe. In 2002 the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese honored him with its highest award given to church musicians, the St. Romanos Medallion.

Benedict Sheehan

Benedict Sheehan

Composer and conductor Benedict Sheehan is Director of Music at St. Tikhon’s Monastery and Seminary in Pennsylvania, and Artistic Director of The Saint Tikhon Choir. His work focuses on the evolving tradition of Russian sacred choral music in 21st-century America and on crafting a uniquely American sound within the Orthodox musical tradition. His efforts, both as a composer and a conductor, have earned him widespread critical acclaim in recent years, including a 2021 GRAMMY nomination for Best Choral Performance.

Alexander Lingas

Alexander Lingas – Moderator

Dr. Alexander Lingas is a Professor of Music at City, University of London, founder and Musical Director of the vocal ensemble Cappella Romana, and a Fellow of the University of Oxford’s European Humanities Research Centre. His present work embraces historical study, ethnography, and performance. In 2018 His All-Holiness, Bartholomew I, Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch, bestowed on him the title of Archon Mousikodidaskalos

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