Changes to MCI music in 2019

It’s been twelve full years since the new Divine Liturgy books were published and distributed, and fifteen years since the MCI began regularly distributing music for liturgical services.  With that in mind, I am planning on making a few changes in the coming year.

Communion Hymns – starting in 2005, the MCI distributed music for liturgical Communion Hymn of the day using a full assortment of the various Cherubic Hymn melodies, in order to help cantors and congregations learn them.  But we are long past that point, and so in the New Year, the MCI will only print the TEXT of the Communion Hymn(s) of the day, allowing the  cantor free choice of which melody to use. The exception for now will be a few feast days where the green book has a very specific seasonal melody to use; for now, these will be left in the propers.

Remember that the Cantor’s Companion has a table of ALL the Communion Hymns, and where they can be found in the Divine Liturgies book to each of the different Cherubic Hymn melodies.  You can also use this handout.

Vespers – the current MCI Vespers books were prepared in 2005-2006, and don’t always match the texts, music and rubrics in  our 2007 Divine Liturgies book and 2010 Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts book.  In the coming year, ALL the MCI Vespers books will be getting a much needed revision to match official texts and  correct various typos and infelicities which have been noted over the years.  Stay tuned!

The Hymnal Project – this will continue through 2019, and with luck a draft will go to the Music Commission next Fall.  Watch the blog!

The Harmonization Project – as part of our work toward chant and church music revitalization, in January we will be launching a project to make available harmonized (3- and 4-part) settings of plain chant and spiritual songs, along with materials to help teach and learn choral singing in church.

New music – there is at least some music which we might fruitfully introduce, now that most parishes are used to what is in our Divine Liturgies books (after ten years, I can’t call them new!).  For example, there are settings of the Cherubic Hymn into English which might be added to our repertoire, as well as complete collections of all the Communion Hymns set to each melody. This will probably be a project for later in the year, but I would welcome your thoughts and suggestions.

Online classes – these will continue.  The introductory courses in liturgy and church singing can be taken for free, and I am adding one in the history of our chant.  The remaining courses follow a regular schedule, and can be completed in two years from beginning to end, at a cost of about $35  per month.  Classes on reading in church, the liturgical year, and music for the Great Fast start on January 7.  See the classes page for more information.

As you can see, we have a lot going on – but the goal here is the glorification of God through the singing and worship in our parishes.  Christ is born!

Intro to Church Singing is now free

As of November 4, the MCI Online class Introduction to Church Singing can be taken for free by all cantors, clergy, and parishioners of Byzantine Catholic parishes in the United States. (Non-members can take the class for $75.) This class teaches the basics for singing in church – musical sound, fundamentals of singing and reading music, and how to lead basic responses used in all services. Recommended for anyone who wants to learn our plain chant!

The course itself has been somewhat reorganized, with the addition of a new teaching song for the degrees of the scale, a full set of voice training videos, and new material in the final week on chant harmonization.

You can request an ID at https://mci.archpitt.org/online at any time and sign up.   (Offer is for members of the Byzantine Catholic Church in the US;  for others, tuition is $75.)  If there is someone in your parish who would like to learn to sing our plain chant, please encourage them to try this course out!

In the past, we had some e-mail problems with the Archeparchy’s web server provider.  So if you previously requested an ID, try logging in. If you have questions or difficulties, write me directly at mci@archpitt.org.

One request: if you have an ID, or get one, please update your profile entry with your parish name in the form “<name”, <city> <state>” – for example, “St. Mary’s, Morgantown WV.”  If you just enter “St. John the Baptist” is makes it quite hard for me to tell where you actually are!

MCI Summer School 2018

OK, so I just realized we never published a wrap-up of the 2018 summer school for cantors (July 23-27) – here it is!

Monday and Tuesday

The first two days were for our new cantors only. We covered the basics of singing:

For the first time, we were able to video-record each lesson by our voice teacher, Shawn Daly, and match them up to the printed materials we use for the online class.

Every day also included voice lessons for each student, and the celebration of Compline. On Tuesday evening, we started on the basics of leading chant instead of just singing it.

Wednesday

This was the hinge day in the week: the last day for the beginning students, and the first day for the advanced students, with shared classes between the two groups.  We opened with the Divine Liturgy and breakfast, then covered:

  • Learning resources for cantors
  • Vocal articulation: making our singing clear and understandable
  • Discussion: Where do we sing in church?
  • Singing in harmony (using the Akathist hymn)
  • Dealing with problems in plain chant leadership

After Vespers, we had supper together at a local restaurant, and said good-bye to the beginning students.

Thursday and Friday

These two days were for current serving cantors. Classes included:

  • Singing the Hours and Compline
  • Voice lessons: Resonance (achieving a good vocal sound)
  • An update on the status of our liturgical and chant books
  • Singing Hierarchical Services
  • What to do when the bishop comes (with Fr. Valerian Michlick)
  • Prayer for Cantors

We also celebrated Great Vespers for the feast of St. Pantaleimon.

We had a total of seven students, and look forward to having more next year!  Many thanks to Saints Cyril and Methodius Byzantine Catholic Seminary in Pittsburgh for accommodating the program; it was particularly good to be able to accommodate both male and female students in private rooms at the seminary throughout the week.

New articles on the MCI website: Fall 2018

With the completion of the classes on The Liturgical Year and Hierarchical and Reader Services, the following articles on the MCI website have been added or revised:

The Liturgical Year
September
October
November
December
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August

Hierarchical services
The Mystery of Priesthood
Reader Services
The Hours
Typika
Crowning

Moleben
Akathist

Singing the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy
Singing the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy
Singing the Daytime Hours
Singing the Service of Typika
Singing the Wedding Service with Divine Liturgy

Questions, corrections, and suggestions are welcome!  All MCI Online are enabled for guest access (you only have to register if you want to do the coursework and receive feedback and assistance with  your singing):

http://mci.archpitt.org/classes

Congratulations, Spring 2018 MCI Students!

The following students have successfully completed MCI Online courses in the first half of 2018.

Introduction to Liturgy
Robert Bartz
Danielle Bates
John Ference
Joseph Grayeske
David Hennessy
Michael Komishock
Deirdre Manasterski
Maria McKay
Luke Potts
Mark Stachowiak
Mark Tamisiea
Judith Walsh

Introduction to the Typikon
Robert Bartz
Robert Dillon
joseph Grayeske
David Hennessy
Michael Komishock
Sue Ann Rudolphy
Colin Ventrella
Judith Walsh

Introduction to Church Singing
Robert Dillon
David Hennessy
Colin Ventralla

Reading in Church
Andrea Riley
Sue Ann Rudolphy

Introduction to the Divine Liturgy
Sue Ann Rudolphy

The Divine Liturgy
Sherill Franklin
Susan Kopko
Andrea Riley
Amy Seyfried

The Office of Vespers
Samuel Popiel
Sue Ann Rudolphy
Angela Sedun

Mastering the Eight T0nes
Samuel Popiel
Angela Sedun

Services for the Living
Andrea Riley
Amy Seyfried

Congratulations to all!

New articles on the MCI website!

With the completion of the class on Services for the Living , the following articles on the MCI website have been added or revised:

Christian initiation
Baptism
Chrismation
Eucharist
Penance
Anointing of the Sick
Crowning

(Ordination is being covered in the course on hierarchical and reader services, which began on July 2.

Moleben
Akathist

Singing the Baptismal Service
Singing the Baptismal Service with Divine Liturgy

Singing the Betrothal Service
Singing the Wedding Service (Crowning)
Singing the Wedding Service with Divine Liturgy

Singing an Akathist
Singing a Moleben

Questions, corrections, and suggestions are welcome!  All MCI Online are enabled for guest access (you only have to register if you want to do the coursework and receive feedback and assistance with  your singing):

http://mci.archpitt.org/classes

Why TWO classes on the Divine Liturgy?

In the 2-year MCI Online program, there are two different classes on the Divine Liturgy:

  • Introduction to the Divine Liturgy
  • The Divine Liturgy

Some students coming the program wonder if this is a mistake.  It’s not, and here’s why.

When we taught in-person classes for the Metropolitan Cantor Institute, an entire class sang together. Sure, we would often go from one person to another, trying out individual melodies, but there was really no way to make sure that every student knew each part of the Divine Liturgy.

The online course is different. For example, in the Introduction to Church Singing class, every student submits online recordings of themselves singing on a single pitch (to check rhythm and expression), then to a psalm tone, then singing simple responses (“Amen”, “To you, O Lord”) and litany resp0nses (“Lord, have mercy.”) The course is also structured to test a student’s ability to match pitch with the priest of deacon.

The Introduction to the Divine Liturgy class teaches about the Divine Liturgy, and also teaches how to sing and lead the material on pages 11-103 of the Divine Liturgy book – even the Saint Basil melodies! Students practice the music reading skills they learned in the previous course, and how to sing and lead plain chant.

But to do this for ALL the music on these pages would be overwhelming for newer cantors (and even for more experienced ones, if they are still learning to read music!). So for this course, students choose ONE melody for each hymn, such as the Trisagion (“Holy God”) and the Cherubic Hymn (“Let us who mystically”), to record and use to demonstrate their learning. By the end of this course, every student can sing the entire Divine Liturgy, as long as they can choose the melodies to be used when there is a choice.

Later in the program, the Introduction to the Eight Tones class provides a lot of experience in reading musical notation, and in learning and singing melodies. Students practice and demonstrate the troparia, kontakia, prokeimena and Alleluia in all eight tones.

Then, once they are into the “intermediate” classes and take The Divine Liturgy, they will be better prepared to understand the liturgical organization of the service, AND have the necessary skills to sing well from musical notation, and to sing more complicated music.  In this course, they will learn and demonstrate ALL the different melodies we use in the Divine Liturgy, as found on pages 11-103 of the Divine Liturgy book.

By covering the Divine Liturgy, our most important service, in two separate classes, we allow students to grow into and master the cantor’s role, and make sure that every student can sing the Divine Liturgy prayerfully, musically, and well.

 

Congratulations, Fall 2017 MCI Students!

The following students have successfully completed MCI Online courses in the autumn of 2017.

Introduction to Liturgy
Robert Cihak
Jeremy Dunham
Matthew Minerd
Andrea  Riley
Sue Ann Rudolphy
Ron Somich
Diana Terleck
Russell Ward

Introduction to the Typikon
Sherill Franklin
Joe Herman
Michelle Rubush
Amy Seyfried
Mark Tamisiea
Susan Tate

Introduction to Church Singing
Robert Bartz
Matthew Minerd
Andrea  Riley
Sue Ann Rudolphy
Ron Somich
Diana Terleck

Introduction to the Divine Liturgy
Mark Tamisiea
Susan Tate

Introduction to the Eight Tones
Lucia Clinch-Reimer
Sherill Franklin
Susan Kopko
Matthew Minerd
Sue Ann Rudolphy
Angela Sedun
Amy Seyfried

Mastering the Eight T0nes
Susan Kopko
Matthew Minerd
Andrea Riley
Sue Ann Rudolphy
Amy Seyfried

The Office of Vespers
Susan Kopko
Matthew Minerd
Andrea Riley
Amy Seyfried

In all, TWELVE students have earned the MCI Reader badge by completing Introduction to Liturgy, Introduction to Church Singing, and Reading in Church.

THREE students are the first to earn the Apprentice Cantor Badge by completing the entire Basic Cantor course (the reader course, plus classes on the Divine Liturgy, Eight Tones, and Typikon):

  • Susan Kopko, St. Ann, Harrisburg, PA
  • Angela Sedun, St. Ann, Harrisburg, PA
  • Amy Seyfried, St. Philip, Sacramento, CA

Congratulations to all!  Signups for Spring 2018 classes are now open.

New mailing list for cantors

For some 12 years now, the Metropolitan Cantor Institute has used a Yahoo-based mailing list to distribute monthly music mailings and send out announcements.  Unfortunately, this service has been increasingly unreliable, and also lacks quite a few useful features of more modern mailing list software.

So I have created a new mailing list, cantors@groups.io, which will provide BOTH news/announcements and an open (moderated) forum discussion for cantors.

  • Current mcimusicfiles and MCI announcements will go out on this list, along with cantor education news from all four eparchies.
  • You can use the mailing list to ask questions, seek assistance, share music, and raise topics for discussion.
  • Eventually we will be adding the ability to upload and share files, and contribute to a wiki specifically for Byzantine Catholic cantors and church singers.

To join the mail list,  go to:  https://groups.io/g/cantors  and subscribe to the new group using your preferred email address.

If you wish to receive ONLY news and announcements, you can change your subscription options to “Special Notices Only.”  You will still be able to view all discussion  topics by pointing a Web browser to the group address, https://groups.io/g/cantors.

 

P.S. I am looking for a nice wide photograph to use as the banner for the cantors mailing list and the MCI blog.  If you have a suitable one – particularly a photo of a singing congregation – please let me know!

MCI Courses for 2018

With the end of the first full year of MCI Online and the beginning of our second year of comprehensive cantor education, we are putting in place a complete set of cantor classes, available anywhere in the US:

  • The Basic Course (six classes, two of them free and open to anyone) teach the skills necessary to serve as an assistant cantor, and occasionally lead the singing at the Divine Liturgy.  The Basic Course is taught twice a year, beginning in January and July.
  • The Intermediate Course (four classes) covers the complete contents our Divine Liturgies and Sunday Vespers books, and shows cantors how to lead and sing these services throughout the year.  Like the Basic Course, the Intermediate course is taught twice a year, beginning in January and July.
  • The Advanced Course covers the Lenten and Paschal seasons, the holy mysteries and the funeral services, and Christmas/Theophany. The six classes in the Advanced Course will be taught every year, and can be taken in any order.

Through this program, anyone with the basic ability to sing  and a willingness to learn and practice can become a cantor in two years, or extend the courses out over a longer period. Experienced cantors can use the same courses to demonstrate what they know, brush up or learn new skills where necessary, and earn a cantor’s certificate from the MCI and their bishop.

Over the next few weeks, I will posting additional details here about how the program works.  For now, you can find out more at http://mci.archpitt.org/classes.