Online Musicianship for Cantors!

In preparation for our online classes, which begin in February, the Metropolitan Cantor Institute has acquired a site license for Theta Music Trainer, a website with computer- and smartphone-based games that teach pitch matching, recognition and singing of scales and intervals, and other important skills.

Complete access to this website is available to all cantors in the Byzantine Catholic Church, as well as students in the MCI Online program. For more information, see the Theta Music Trainer page on the MCI website.

New year, new calendar

Christ is born!

20161230_144418The liturgical calendar for 2017 is now on the MCI website. Please be aware that this year, I am planning to update some of the proper music for fix typos, correct some bad phrasing, and so on. Whenever older music is updated in this way, I will add “Last modified on <date>” on the bottom of the first page.

Cantors should also order (and learn to use!) the annual typikon from the Byzantine Seminary Press:

http://www.byzantineseminarypress.com/2017-annual-typicon/

This booklet has detailed directions for the hymns to be sung at each major Divine Liturgy in the year. In January, the MCI will put explanatory and practice material to help you learn to use the typikon.

YOUR HELP REQUESTED: Remembering our choirs

Throughout the history of our church, there has sometimes been competition for “pride of place” between congregational singing of plain chant, and the singing of choirs (whether of harmonized chant, or of choral masterworks). The singing of our notable choirs has not only added beauty to our church in the past; it can also be used in the present to enhance and supplement our congregational singing, and show us how chant was understand or harmonized in the past. And where choirs can be re-founded or formed, they can provide opportunities to train singers in the liturgical services of our rite, and add social activities based in the parish community.

With that in mind, the Metropolitan Cantor Institute has been working with the Byzantine Catholic Seminary in Pittsburgh for some time to collect information and recordings from the principal choirs of the Byzantine Catholic Church. Now we are turning to you for assistance. We are particularly interested in the following choirs and their directors: Continue reading YOUR HELP REQUESTED: Remembering our choirs

YOUR HELP REQUESTED: Remembering our professors

For many years, cantors who received comprehensive cantorial training in Europe were known in this country as “professors.” These men led church singing, taught religion classes, directed plays, and often organized church services when clergy were scarce. Over time, other particularly influential cantors were also called by the title, “Professor.”

In order to better preserve and foster our chant tradition, the Metropolitan Cantor Institute has been working with the Byzantine Catholic Seminary in Pittsburgh to collect information about these important leaders in our church. Now we are turning to you for assistance. We are particularly interested in the following cantors: Continue reading YOUR HELP REQUESTED: Remembering our professors

Reader’s Course Videos Available

In September, reader’s courses were held at our cathedrals in Munhall, PA and Parma, OH. Thanks to Fr. Andrew Summerson, the Parma classes were professionally recorded, and those recordings are now available along with the class handouts:

Video 1 (48 minutes)
Video 2 (82 minutes)

Web link: Lectionary
Handout: Introduction to the Books of the Bible
Handout: Tones for Chanting Psalms and Readings
Handout: Tones for the Prokeimenon and Alleluia Verses
Handout: Text of Psalm 50
Handout: Practice readings

As always, materials from previous MCI courses can be found here.

Reader’s Course – Materials Online

Today, Fr. Andrew Summerson and I presented a two-hour epistle reader’s course to 15 students at St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Parma, Ohio.  The lecture portion was recorded on video, and included our best presentation on the prostopinije reading tones to date. In the meantime, here are the materials for this week and next:

Based on this course, we will be making some changes to how we teach this material in the future – and also adding audio / video recordings of epistle readers “at work” in church. Thanks to all who attended!

Next week, courses will continue in Pittsburgh (on Thursday evening) and in Parma (on Saturday afternoon).

Moleben Monday!

Each Monday for the next several weeks, we will be adding a new moleben or prayer service to the Publications page of the MCI website.

Today’s addition is a Moleben Invoking the Help of the Holy Spirit, suitable for a church meeting or the start of any good work. It can also be celebrated as a patronal service for parishes dedicated to the Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost).

As always, you can add “_booklet” before “.pdf” in the URL window of your web browser to get a link to a version suitable for printing in booklet form on 2-sided 11 by 14 inch paper.  Here is the direct link for this moleben so you can see what I mean.

If you have a particular moleben you would like to have for your parish’s use, please comment here!

Holy Week follow-up: your input requested

Christ is risen!

Now that everyone is (hopefully) recovered from Holy Week and Pascha, I would like to solicit cantors’ feedback on the books and music for Holy Week with the feast of the Annunciation.  Was there anything you found particularly tricky?  What went well, and what could be improved?  (I am asking because we can hope to have new Holy Week books for next year that match the texts and music from the DIvine Liturgies and Presanctified books; but final details have yet to be worked out.) Please send any input you may have to mci@archpitt.org.  Thank you!

Holy Week and Annunciation, 2016

This year, the feast of the Annunciation (March 25) falls on Great and Holy Friday. When this happens, the hymns for the eve of the feast are added to the celebration of Vespers with Divine Liturgy on Great and Holy Thursday, and Vespers with the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is celebrated on the evening of Great and Holy Friday. This is the only time a Divine Liturgy is ever celebrated on Friday of Holy Week.

The bishops of the Byzantine (Ruthenian) Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh have promulgated a pair of books with music to be used at these services. Copies of these books are being provided to each parish. On March 3, a two-hour presentation on these books and the music they contain was given in Pittsburgh. Here are the audio recordings of this presentation, for those who could not attend or see the live Internet feed of the presentation.

The Inter-Eparchial Liturgical Commission has recommended that parishes which celebrate Matins for Great and Holy Friday (the Service of the 12 Passion Gospels) include the matins Gospel of the Annunciation (Luke 1:39-49,56) between the seventh and eighth Gospels of the Passion, and add the commemoration of the Annunciation to the final dismissal. The MCI has prepared a leaflet with this recommendation.

If you have any questions, please contact us.

Music for Holy Week and Annunciation – IMPORTANT

This year, the feast of the Annunciation (March 25) falls on Great and Holy Friday.  When this happens:

  1. The service of Vespers with Divine Liturgy on the evening of Great and Holy Thursday includes hymns (stichera) for the eve of the Annunciation.
  2. The service of Vespers on Great and Holy Friday has a Divine Liturgy added  to it, and there are hymns and readings for the Annunciation as well as for Great Friday.

In 2005, our bishops provided books for these services; unfortunately, the results were not what they could have been because

  • the materials were supplements, directing priests, cantors, and faithful to switch back and forth between the usual Holy Week books and the supplements
  • there was a mix of old translations, and the new ones that would be promulgated in 2007
  • new music was released with very little time to prepare

Over the past year, the Inter-eparchial Liturgy and Music Commissions prepared complete service books for these two services, matching what is in the green Divine Liturgy books for the two Divine Liturgies, and for the Annunciation. The translations are consistent throughout.  That means that for a small number of stichera, the books use a new translation of the hymns for Great and Holy Thursday and Great and Holy Friday, with musical settings by the Inter-Eparchial Music Commission. These books are being send to each parish in the Byzantine (Ruthenian) Catholic Church over the next week or so.

On THURSDAY, March 3, the Metropolitan Cantor Institute will give a two-hour presentation on these services and the service books that are being distributed, teaching the new music and showing cantors how the books can be used most effectively.  I STRONGLY encourage all cantors in the Greater Pittsburgh area to attend this class, which will be held at St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Munhall, PA from 7-9 PM Eastern.

This class will also be live-streamed on the cathedral website at

http://www.stjohnsbyzantinecathedral.com/cathedral/live

though I cannot predict how usable the audio will be.  Therefore, we will also be recording the class and post the audio and additional materials on the MCI website at mci.archpitt.org.

CANTORS: please set aside some time to prepare for these services.  They are among the most solemn of the year, and I think you will find the music and books are quite usable (and even make sense!) IF you prepare adequately. As always, if you have questions, please write me at mci@archpitt.org;  and questions of general import will be posted with their answers on the MCI website.

P.S. I do not currently have PDF files for these service books. They will be posted if I can get access to them in advance of Holy Week.