Memory Eternal: Father Ivan Moody

Ivan Moody
Fr. Ivan Moody in 2018

Cappella Romana’s March 8-10 Concert Series, In You, O Woman Full of Grace, is performed in memory of our dear friend, Archpriest Ivan Moody (11 June 1964–18 January 2024). The performance will also feature the premiere of Robert Kyr’s “Memory eternal, in remembrance of Fr. Ivan Moody”.

May his memory be eternal.

With faith in Christ and hope in the resurrection, we share the news of the repose of the Very Reverend Dr. Ivan Moody, a world-renowned composer and conductor, an affiliated faculty member of the Institute of Sacred Arts (ISA) at St. Vladimir’s Seminary, and the founding Chairman of the International Society for Orthodox Church Music (ISOCM), and longtime collaborator with Cappella Romana.

Born in London in 1964, Fr. Ivan studied music at Royal Holloway, University of London, and the University of York (where he took his Ph.D.), and Orthodox Theology at the University of Eastern Finland (formerly known as the University of Joensuu); he also studied composition privately with Sir John Tavener. Influenced by several mentors, including Father Michael Fortunatto, Fr. Ivan developed an early and powerful interest in the music, spirituality, and liturgy of the Orthodox Church—whose music and faith were to play a foundational part in his own compositions and life.

Fr. Ivan worked extensively as a Church musician and conductor. A one-time member of the choir of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in London, he subsequently served as cantor in both Greek and Bulgarian parishes in Lisbon. He worked around the world with choirs and vocal groups as a conductor and clinician, sharing his expertise in the early and contemporary music of the Christian East and West. In North America, he forged a particularly close relationship as a conductor with Cappella Romana, first leading the ensemble in 2002 and directing them for the recording Arctic Light: Finnish Orthodox Music

Fr. Ivan’s music has been performed and broadcast all over the world, and recorded on labels such as Hyperion, ECM, Telarc, Warner Classics, Sony, Linn, Orange Mountain, and Challenge. His largest works to date are Passion and Resurrection (1992), the Akáthistos Hymn (1998, his largest work, written for Cappella Romana), and Qohelet (2013). Other significant works include The Dormition of the Virgin (2003), the double-bass concerto The Morning Star (2003), the piano concerto Linnunlaulu (2003), Passione Popolare (2005), Simeron (2013) for vocal trio and string trio, and the Dante Trilogy (2014) for choir and ensemble.

In 2007, Fr. Ivan was ordained to the priesthood by the hand of Metropolitan Polykarpos of the Metropolis of Spain and Portugal (Ecumenical Patriarchate), becoming rector of the Orthodox Parish of the Transfiguration and St. John the Russian, in Estoril, Portugal.

Fr. Ivan held several academic positions, beginning with his appointment as Professor of Church Music at the University of Eastern Finland from 2012 to 2014, after which he accepted a position as a research fellow at CESEM – Universidade Nova in Lisbon, Portugal and Coordinator of the Contemporary Music Group. As a researcher at CESEM, Fr. Ivan proved to be a prolific author of essays and books, including Modernism and Orthodox Spirituality in Contemporary Music. In 2019, he also became an Affiliated Artist/Scholar at the Institute of Sacred Arts at St. Vladimir’s Seminary.

His fruitful collaboration with the Institute of Sacred Arts included two Summer Music Institutes co-hosted by ISOCM and St. Vladimir’s Seminary, in 2020 and 2022; his essay contribution to Arvo Pärt: Sounding the Sacred, edited by ISA founding Director Dr. Peter Bouteneff, titled “The Materiality of Sound and the Theology of the Incarnation in the Music of Arvo Pärt;” and an essay in a forthcoming book from SVS Press called Rethinking Sacred Arts, entitled “Orthodox Perspectives on the Sacred in the Musical Arts.” Dr. Bouteneff also conducted a special video interview with Fr. Ivan in Three Hierarchs Chapel in 2018 and interviewed him again on the Luminous podcast in 2021.

Father Ivan Moody’s legacy is even further augmented by his work with the ISOCM, an organization he founded and nurtured with steadfast dedication. His vision and commitment to the preservation and promotion of Orthodox Church music transcended geographical boundaries, bringing together musicians, scholars, and enthusiasts from diverse backgrounds in a shared celebration of sacred musical traditions. His scholarly contributions, musical compositions, and unwavering advocacy for the spiritual and cultural significance of sacred music enriched the global Orthodox community and left an indelible mark on the broader world of choral and liturgical music. Beyond his professional contributions, Father Ivan Moody was a beloved figure and a guiding light to those who had the privilege of knowing him. His kindness, humility, and profound spirituality endeared him to colleagues, friends, and students alike.

May the memory of Protopresbyter Ivan Moody be eternal.