The Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church in America’s Sacred Music Festival—a three-day celebration of Armenian church music—will run Friday to Sunday, October 4-6, 2019 at St. James of Nisibis Armenian Church in Evanston, IL. The festival is open to all church musicians—both singers and instrumentalists—indeed to all who love Armenian liturgical music and wish to elevate their understanding and improve their performance. Conceived by the Diocese’s Sacred Music Council, the festival will feature instructional workshops, educational seminars and concert performances organized and led by experts.

The Sacred Music Festival will begin early Friday evening with a reception for parish choir directors and clergy hosted by our Primate, Bishop Daniel Findikyan, followed by vespers and dinner. Dn. Rubik Mailian will conclude the evening with Gomidas Vartabed at 150 Years: His Contribution to Armenian Sacred Music, a lecture-recital celebrating the one hundred-fiftieth anniversary of the birth of Gomidas Vartabed. St. James’ Narek Children’s Bell Choir will perform a short set as a prelude to Dn. Rubik’s presentation.   

Saturday will begin with morning service and Bishop Daniel's address "When Armenians Sing with the Angels." During morning breakout sessions, Very Rev. Fr. Mamigon Kiledjian, Dn. Rubik Mailian, Solange Merdinian and Rev. Fr. Hovhan Khoja-Eynatyan will offer various workshops for singers, choir directors, organists and anyone who plays an instrument. Topics include the general rules and elements of conducting, such as proper posture, gestures, patterns, phrasing, changes in tempo and dynamics, vocal and posture maintenance through nutrition and exercise and the history of organ improvisation in the Badarak to name a few. (Click here to see the full schedule.)

Three presentations will be offered after lunch: Dn. Rubik will talk about aspects of the aging voice; Sevag Derderian, the Chairman of the Association of Armenian Church Choirs of the Western Diocese (AACCWD), will focus on weaving the thread of sacred music into the lives of our youth; and Fr. Hovhan will give an overview of the digital resources developed by the Sacred Music Council over the past few years. The last two sessions of the day will be dedicated to sectional and combined rehearsals of two compositions by Gomidas Vartabed, the Hayr Mer and Soorp, Soorp, which will be performed during Sunday’s Badarak. Participants are encouraged to acquaint themselves with their respective parts prior to the festival. (Here you can access the scores for the various parts.)

Participants can attend these workshops, or they can simply bring their instruments to play church music with Fr. Hovhan in an informal setting. Saturday will conclude with a screening of the documentary Singing in Exile featuring the Akn Choir, followed by a Q and A session (via Skype) with Ara Kerovpyan, Director of the Akn Choir.

Sunday morning will be the culmination of the festival with Bishop Daniel celebrating Badarak at the Holy Altar of St. James with participation from all festival attendees. There will be coffee hour in St. James’ Nishan Hall afterwards for attendees to enjoy fellowship a final time before traveling home.

We encourage attendees to make plans to spend their free moments during this early autumn weekend enjoying the coziness of downtown Evanston with its many restaurants, cafes and shops or taking a walk through beautiful Northwestern University along its gorgeous Lake Michigan shoreline with its vista of downtown Chicago. 

Click here for festival flyer.

Click here to register.

Click here for Friday night concert flyer.

Click here for schedule.

Click here for presenters’ bios.

Click here to access scores and audio files of SOorp-Soorp and Hayr Mer by Gomidas (for Saturday afternoon rehearsals)


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