Joensuu, Finland – From June 3-9, 2013 the International Society for Orthodox Church Music (ISOCM) hosted the Fifth International Conference on Orthodox Church Music. The conference was held at the School of Theology, University of Eastern Finland and it featured participants from fifteen different countries who presented papers on a variety of topics related to the conference’s overall theme of “Church Music and Icons: Windows to Heaven.”
Conference participants included musicologists, singers, directors, graduate students, composers, researchers, iconographers, iconologists, and those who have an appreciation of the liturgical arts. “This year’s conference built on the four previous, and also expanded our range, in linking the discussion of church music with iconography,” said the Rev. Ivan Moody, board chairman of ISOCM. Deacon Petri Nykänen, vice-chair of the ISOCM added, “The presentations were of the highest caliber, and coupled with the divine services provided each of us with the opportunity to worship, learn, and sing together.” Founded in 2005, the ISOCM provides an open platform for musicians, musicologists, singers, and composers that encourages dialogue and the exchange of information and ideas.
Among the presenters were two MASI graduates, Dr. Daniel Galadza and presv. Melita Mudri-Zubacz. Their papers underscored the importance of congregational participation as an effective and necessary element in public worship. Dr. Galadza, a post-doctoral assistant at the Faculty of Catholic Theology, University of Vienna in Austria, presented on the concept of participation as gleaned from the writings of St. Theodore the Stoudite. In his paper entitled “Open your mouth and attract the Spirit:” Participation in the Icon of Worship Dr. Galadza first outlined the contemporary research on participation in church singing; he then considered specific liturgical sources, such as the current Sabaite typikon used in Orthodox churches today; finally, Dr. Galadza examined the practice of liturgical singing during St. Theodore’s time, showing that the monastic reformer emphasized common participation of all present in the divine services. Presv. Mudri-Zubacz, a graduate student at the Faculty of Music, University of Manitoba, presented Liturgical Song as an Aural Icon: Towards a Theology of Sound and Participation. Her talk began with an exploration of the concept of a theology of sound based on Biblical pattern of God’s revelation. She then outlined four main traits of Byzantine liturgical music that offer powerful implications for choral conductors in their choice of liturgical repertoire, and, more importantly, for the composers of liturgical music. Mudri-Zubacz supported her theological arguments concerning congregational participation in worship with psycho-physiological studies of group singing. Both papers were received with great enthusiasm.
In addition to excellent scholarly presentations and discussions, a number of divine services, workshops, concerts and receptions provided attendees with the opportunity to worship, sing together, and enjoy international fellowship. Participants also made a pilgrimage to the New Valamo and Lintula monasteries in Eastern Finland. For more information about this society, please visit www.isocm.com