SMC HOSTS AN ONLINE LECTURE ON VOCAL HEALTH
by Karinne' Andonian,
Holy Trinity Armenian Church, Cheltenham, PA
On Wednesday, December 16th, the Sacred Music Council hosted a very informative lecture by Dr. Norman Dertad Hogikyan about "Vocal Health and the Pandemic". We learned about the physiology and anatomy of our vocal cords and how the use of our singing voice impacts the potential spread of the coronavirus. It was rather validating and encouraging for many of us, specifically with regard to the choices we are making within our choirs in terms of precautions we are taking to keep us all as safe as possible while also worshiping in the way we know best- through singing or playing our beautiful sacred music.
In the discussion after the lecture, I got to thinking about our vocal health and the impact that stress has on it. For me personally, as a music therapist and a vocalist, I think often about the mind-body connection and how stress impacts that connection often for the worse. In the lecture, the correlation of the impact good health has on good vocal performance was alluded to, and my take away from it is the reminder that we must keep ourselves in good and calm mental and physical health in order to use our God-given voices with the best opportunity for success in singing.
Dr. Hogikyan was able to shine light on several studies that have taken place over the past months regarding singers' masks and what practices have been proven to be more beneficial when attempting to keep the virus from spreading within choirs, including keeping space in mind with a minimum of 12 feet between singers and allowing time for the air in the space to circulate and cleanse periodically when possible. These studies have come out of Colorado State University and are rather fascinating. Dr. Hogikyan also taught us that there is still so much that we don't know about how the voice impacts the spread of the coronavirus, however what we can do is set ourselves up for success by following proper safety measures including wearing suitable masks that fit our faces properly, washing our hands, and remaining at least 12 feet apart when singing, and if possible singing without an organ can be useful as well because the need to project more would lessen.
What Dr. Hogikyan did not say was that he had all the answers of how we should conduct our services. Understanding that each of our parishes have a slightly different space, we were encouraged to be mindful of where we stand in relation to our congregations and to each other, and consider the possibility of singing at home throughout the week to keep our vocal cords strong and able. This seemed to be a key point for many of our participants in the lecture as there was concern that if we are not allowed to sing in church, will we lose our vocal strength? The answer to this, Dr. Hogikyan alluded to, was no- not if we sing at home.
Again, in speaking as a music therapist, there is so much truth to this idea of singing for the sake of giving ourselves joy and song. This practice can be rather restorative and like exercise, good for our overall mental and physical health. So, in closing, I think that I received a wonderful and validating reminder from Dr. Hogikyan which is -TO JUST SING even if you are home by yourself! JUST SING!
SACRED MUSIC COUNCIL KEEPS CHURCH MUSICIANS CONNECTED
WITH VIRTUAL FESTIVAL
by Gevik Anbarchian
On October 23-24, the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America held its second annual Sacred Music Festival, a gathering of choir singers, directors, instrumentalists and Armenian sacred music aficionados throughout the Diocese. Primate Bishop Daniel Findikyan presided over the two-day virtual festival. The festival was open to all who love Armenian liturgical music and wish to elevate their understanding and improve their performance and featured instructional workshops, educational seminars and recitals led by experts.
Conceived by the Diocese’s Sacred Music Council, the festival was organized by a subcommittee consisting of Very Rev. Fr. Mamigon Kiledjian, Diocesan Instructor of Sacred Music; Deacon Rubik Mailian, Director of Music at St. John's Armenian Church of Greater Detroit; Deacon Michael Sabounjian, pastoral intern at Sts. Sahag and Mesrob Armenian Church in Providence, RI and Deacon Ari Terjanian of St. Gregory of Narek Church in Richmond Heights, OH.
The festival began on Friday evening with vespers service, followed by Bishop Daniel’s welcome message in which he stressed the importance of the annual festival: “The sacred music of our church is unbelievably rich but sadly unknown. What we hear in our parishes from week to week represents maybe one percent of our marvelous musical tradition. The Sacred Music Festival aims to recover that music and teach it to our people to enhance the power and beauty of our worship and to attract many more people to our church, from young people to accomplished musicians.”
Click here to read the article.
Click here to see screenshots.
Click here for Dn. Rubik lecture/recital "Looys Zuvart (Joyous Light)"
Click here for Bishop Daniel's presentation “Praise for the Light: The Armenian Evening Hour Prayer”
CELEBRATING ARMENIAN CHURCH MUSIC AND MUSICIANS:
Armenian Church musicians from throughout the United States gathered at St. James of Nisibis Armenian Church in Evanston, IL on October 4-6, 2019 for an innovative weekend of lectures, workshops and performances of the Armenian Church’s sacred music. The event was organized by the Sacred Music Council of the Eastern Diocese with the blessing of His Grace, Bishop Daniel, Primate.
“Our goal is to revive the tradition of magnificent, faith-inspiring Armenian sacred music within our parishes,” the Bishop said at the outset of his own presentation on Saturday morning, "I’d like to see the festival become a regular part of our church calendar, being held several times a year both regionally and nationally throughout the Diocese."
Fr. Hovhan Khoja-Eynatyan, pastor of St. James and Chair of the Sacred Music Council, spearheaded the organization of the weekend together with a small committee led by Deacon Larry and Wendy Farsakian, with the eager participation of a number of his parishioners.
“Father Hovhan, himself a musician by training, immediately understood my goals for the weekend and took up the initiative with great enthusiasm,” Bishop Daniel explained.
“This weekend demonstrates how much our diocese can do if we bring together our wealth of talent,” Der Hovhan said.
Click here to read the article.
CHOIR WORKSHOP IN ORLANDO
The Soorp Haroutiun Church of Orlando, FL, welcomed Diocesan Sacred Music Instructor Fr. Mamigon Kiledjian for a choir workshop on November 9-10. Nine choir members took part in the first day of the event, during which Fr. Kiledjian trained with new choir director Mary Nazarian, new organist Isabella Aloian, and the singers to develop consistency and unity in the sacred music.
Six altar servers met with Fr. Kiledjian on the second day of his visit to address technique, knowledge, and spiritual involvement. “We have a young choir, and this workshop was very helpful to them and the parish,” said pastor Fr. Paren Galstyan. Click here to view photos.
REGIONAL DIOCESAN SACRED MUSIC WORKSHOP HOSTED IN NEW BRITAIN
On Friday and Saturday, October 18 & 19, a Regional Sacred Music Workshop brought together three CT area clergy and 23 faithful Altar servers, choir members, conductors and organists for a weekend of learning and continued spiritual growth.
Led by Sacred Music Director, Very Reverend Fr. Mamigon Kiledjian, workshops were held to address the participants questions and concerns for singing and keyboard techniques, as well as to increase their level of spiritual involvement while serving His holy church.
All of those present were extremely attentive and appreciative of Hayr Mamigons ability to create an increased level of strength within themselves to transfer to their performances during the Divine Liturgy. All looked forward to more regional workshops.
This workshop was organized and hosted by by Fr. Kapriel Mouradjian & Holy Resurrection Church, New Britain, CT.
Click here to view photos.
CHOIR WORKSHOP IN ST. PETERSBURG, FL
In separate instructional sessions, Fr. Kiledjian worked with each group of altar servers. To the organists, he offered advice on organ voicing, technique, and pedal work. With the deacons he worked on chanting. Among the choir singers, he emphasized how their voices influence the congregation in worship and prayer.
“Fr. Kiledjian gave us tools to continue our service to our church and to our Lord,” said parish organist Louise Yardumian. “We‘re grateful to our Primate and the Sacred Music Council for sending Fr. Mamigon to renew our skills and spirits.”
Click here to view photos.
A three-day celebration of Armenian Church music brought clergy, deacons, choir singers, instrumentalists, and lovers of liturgical music to the St. James of Nisibis Church in Evanston, IL, over the weekend of October 4-6.
Diocesan Primate Bishop Daniel Findikyan presided over the “Sacred Music Festival” organized by the Diocese’s Sacred Music Council (SMC). Around 50 people took part in its expert-led instructional workshops, educational seminars, and concert performances.
The tightly-packed schedule included a keynote address by the Primate, and seminars led by Fr. Mamigon Kiledjian, Fr. Hovhan Khoja-Eynatyan, Dn. Rubik Mailian, Solange Merdinian, and Sevag Derderian. Dn. Rubik presented a concert-lecture dedicated the 150th anniversary of Gomidas Vartabed, and Aram Kerovpyan led a discussion of the documentary Singing in Exile.
“People were very excited after the festival,” said SMC chair and Evanston pastor Fr. Hovhan Khoja-Eynatyan. “And they were eager to have more gatherings like this. We need to consider responding to that hunger, perhaps holding these festivals periodically in the Diocesan regions.”
“No matter where in the Diocese—or the world—they live, Armenian altar servers and choir members share something deep and profound in common,” observed the Primate. “Our sacred music is force that binds us, elevates us, summons us closer to our Lord. This excellent festival was an important step to acknowledge the vital role played by these servants of the church, and to encouraging others to join them.”
Click on the link to read more about the festival. And click here Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 to view photos.
A JOYFUL NOISE IN CHARLOTTE, NC
The St. Sarkis Church of Charlotte, NC, welcomed the Diocesan Sacred Music Instructor Fr. Mamigon Kiledjian in early August, for a week of workshops for altar servers, organists, and choir members.
Young altar servers who had recently returned from the Deacons’ Training Conference at St. Nersess Seminary continued their work on chanting the Divine Liturgy. Senior altar servers Serop Krajekian and Daniel Zalinov perfected the daily services as they prepare to be ordained as a deacon and sub-deacon, respectively. The choir and its new organist, Anna Ayvazyan, worked with Fr. Kiledjian to develop consistency and unity throughout the liturgy.
Pastor Fr. Samuel Rith-Najarian was pleased with the results, and looks to continue working with Fr. Kiledjian via video conferencing. “Participation in the Divine Liturgy is the center of our lives as Armenian Christians,” he said. “We must strive to ‘Make a joyful noise to the Lord,’ and worship him with gladness and singing.” Click here for photos.
(from the diocesan E-Newsletter)
SMC WORKSHOP IN RICHMOND, MA
By Zevart Caporale, Choir Director
The parish of St. James Armenian Church of Richmond, Virginia welcomed Hayr Soorp Mamigon Kiledjian to conduct a four day choir workshop on June 6-9. 2019.
Prior to the visit, we had sent him a schedule of some things we wanted to work on. During the four days he was with us, Hayr Soorp worked with our conductor, choir members, soloists, organists and deacons on all facets of the Badarak. He worked tirelessly with us both individually and as a group and taught us breathing excercises, intonation, conducting basics, Jashoo Sharagans, songs of the Badarak and anything that came up during our rehearsals. As we rehearsed with him, he recorded specific songs on our phones so that we could listen and learn. It was a way of having him here when he left.
Hayr Soorp also worked with our youth both vocally and on the organ, encouraging the youth to be groomed as choir members and organists. The children, as well as the adults, enjoyed working with him.
Each participant had a wonderful time as he helped us become a better choir. We learned, laughed and enjoyed every moment Hayr Soorp spent with us.
On Sunday, during the Badarak, we knew that all the hard work that we put into the workshop was worth it. It was important to us to show Hayr Soorp how much we learned and how much we appreciated him coming to our parish. We received complimentary comments from the congregation about how wonderful we sounded. This, in turn, gave us a great sense of satisfaction that we were able to achieve our goal to learn and improve.
During his stay with us, he issued to us a challenge which we fully expect to meet. We are already looking forward to the next time Hayr Soorp comes to our parish.
Click here to view photos.
GOMIDAS BADARAK BROUGHT TO LIFE IN SOUTHFIELD
Like most Armenian churches, the St. John Church (Southfield, MI) celebrates badarak every Sunday using the musical setting of Magar Yegmalian. But on June 2, worshipers at the church had a very different liturgical experience.
To mark the 150th anniversary of Gomidas Vartabed’s birth, the St. John Men’s Choir sang the Gomidasian setting of the Divine Liturgy—as originally conceived for male voices. The newly-established ensemble was organized and directed by Dn. Rubik Mailian, the parish’s music director, as a tribute to Gomidas: the greatest figure of Armenian music. Members of the St. John Men’s Choir include Richard Blauvelt, John Yavruian, Serge Boyakjon, James Omartian, Fr. Garabed Kochakian, Garo Boyajian, Vaughn Masropian, Logan Dell’Acqua, and Barry Smith.
Parishioners were mesmerized by the music. “Our beautiful sharagans are deeply rooted in my heart,” said parishioner Linda Tiffany, “but hearing them sung by the acapella Men’s Choir left me in awe.”
In a sermon, St. John’s assistant pastor Fr. Armash Bagdasarian spoke about his personal experience visiting the house on Kinali Island where Gomidas had once lived and composed. The church plans to celebrate the Gomidas Badarak again in September, when pastor Fr. Aren Jebejian will be the celebrant.
(from the diocesan E-Newsletter)
CHOIR WORKSHOP MAKES CLEVELAND SING
The St. Gregory of Narek Church of Cleveland, OH, welcomed Diocesan instructor of Sacred Music Fr. Mamigon Kiledjian for a weekend of in-depth training on June 1-2. Workshops for choir members and altar servers were sponsored by the Diocese’s Sacred Music Council, and organized by Cleveland’s choir director, Dn. Ari Terjanian.
Topics included basic vocal training, the importance of warm-ups, interpreting the music in its liturgical context, communication from the conductor, and the discipline of regular rehearsal. The choir also began learning the badarak setting of Gomidas Vartabed. Deacons reviewed all the chanted litanies under the instruction of Fr. Kiledjian.
“The workshop excited our longtime singers and deacons,” said pastor Fr. Hratch Sargsyan. “But it also turned out to be an opportunity to recruit and engage new choir members. We plan to have Hayr Mamigon visit us again in the near future.”
(from the diocesan E-Newsletter)
Click here to view photos.
SMC OFFERS SERIES OF WORKSHOPS THROUGHOUT THE DIOCESE
On November 29-December 2 the St. George Armenian Church of Hartford, CT, welcomed Very Rev. Fr. Mamigon Kiledjian to conduct liturgical music workshops.
Fr. Mamigon - a concert organist - worked with the parish’s young organist Emma Lopez on the skills required to accompany the hymns of the Badarak. He also spent time going over the sacred music, and especially the jashoo hymns, with Gregory Norsigian and the choir. With the altar servers, Fr. Kildejian taught the Chilingirian settings of several sharagans. On Sunday, Fr. Kildejian led the choir while accompanying on the organ.
“It was a very productive workshop,” said Fr. Zohrabian, the pastor of St. George Armenian Church. “With his incredible knowledge of music, Hayr Sourp helped improve the sound of our choir and altar servers. Our Badarak has begun to sound much more reverent and synchronized.”
On December 5 - 9 Very Rev. Fr. Mamigon Kiledjian visited the St. Sarkis Armenian Church of Dallas, TX, for a week of workshops.
The workshop for altar servers and deacons focused on singing the deacon's part in the Divine Liturgy. Fr. Kiledjian made special use of the Deacons’ Guide to the Divine Liturgy, penned by the late Patriarch Torkom Manoogian and reissued by the Eastern Diocese. During Sunday Badarak, celebrated by parish pastor Fr. Ghevond Ajamian, Fr. Kiledjian joined the altar servers in chanting the deacon's parts and helped the choir with singing the proper melodies. Other workshops took place for the choir and for the organist. Fr. Mamigon also had an opportunity to spend some time with the children's choir recently organized by Yeretzgeen Hasmik Ajamian.
It was the third event in the series of workshops by SMC for this parish. Maestro Khoren Mekanejian visited the parish in October 2017. Fr. Mamigon worked with the altar servers and the choir of St. Sarkis in May 2018. and he will return to Dallas to continue working with the parishioners as they prepare for the consecration of their new church in 2020.
On November 30 St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church in Chicago, IL hosted a workshop for junior choir directors of Midwest. Mrs. Daniella Ashbahian (from St. Leon's Armenian Church in Fairlawn, NJ) and Mrs. Linda Bullock (from Armenian Our Savior Church in Worcester, MA) shared their experience working with junior choirs in their parishes - developing curriculum, cooperating with Sunday School, etc - as well as led a discussion on how to lead a successful junior choir in small parishes.