Making the Grade: Final MCI graduate under the “old” program

From 2001 to 2014, the Metropolitan Cantor Institute held Saturday chant classes in Pittsburgh, covering a different topic at each class.  Over a multi-year rotation, cantors learned  necessary skills, and received a certificate for finishing the full course of study.  Eventually, we added an in-person “final exam” in the form of a cantored Divine Liturgy at which an MCI instructor could see, comment on, and “sign off” that a student had in fact learned the skills we tried to teach.

So it is with great happiness that I can congratulate Mary Benedict, cantor of Saints Peter and Paul Byzantine Catholic Church in Erie, PA.  Mary is the last cantor to complete the “old” MCI program, having regularly driven to Pittsburgh to attend classes, and completing her final examination in 2019.

Here is a list of graduates of the Metropolitan Cantor Institute program. As we move from occasional classroom courses to online, year-round education for cantors, I would like to recognize all those cantors and cantor-students who traveled to the Byzantine Catholic Seminary throughout the fall, winter, and spring to learn the art of church singing and chant leadership.

2005  / 2006
Marylyn Barone
Delcine Caddy
John Glegyak
Thomas Marco
Sharon Mech
George Mihalick
Stephen Petach
Mary Caryl Planiczki
Steven Puluka
Barbara Sowko
Henry Zolyak

2007
Mary Frances Zadzilko
Nicholas J. Nagrant
Diane Ryan Oravecz

2008
Jeff Mierzejewski
Michael Oravecz
Ann Pawluszka

2011
Saundra Frankowski
Marilyn Hertenstein

2016
Tom Rodack

2019
Mary Benedict

(and if you know anyone who should be on this list but isn’t, please add their name below in the comments!)

Finally, I would like to thank J. Michael Thompson, first director of the MCI, who put together this multiyear program and saw it become a reality.

Congratulations, 2019 MCI Students!

The following students have successfully completed MCI Online courses in 2019.

Introduction to Liturgy
David Boney
Sidney Cline
Lawrence Coleman
Steve Doucet
Stephen Farlow
A Gerling
Stephen Hilgendorf
Gregory Hrinda
Diane Hvasta
Michael Katalenich
Seraphima Kemner
Sophia Kemner
Corey Knick
Nicholas Mataya
Jacob Moylan
Scott Romanoski
Sam Schroetke
Naomi Sweetman
Olivia Whitlock
William Wilson
Patricia Yamrick

Introduction to Church Singing
Michael Katalenich
Sam Schroetke
Russell Ward

Introduction to the Typikon
Gregory Hrinda
Michael Katalenich
Jacob Moylan
Scott Romanoski
Olivia Whitlock
Patricia Yamrick

Reading in Church
Robert Dillon

Introduction to the Divine Liturgy
Robert Dillon
Maria McKay
Mike Schulz
Colin Ventralla
Judith Walsh

Introduction to the Eight Tones
David Hennessy
Michelle Rubush
Ron Somich
Susan Tate
Colin Ventralla
Judith Walsh

The Liturgical Year (new class)
Sherill Franklin
Susan Kopko
Sue Ann Rudolphy
Amy Seyfried

The Divine Liturgy
Sue Ann Rudolphy

The Office of Vespers
Sherill Franklin
Judith Walsh

Mastering the Eight T0nes
Sherill Franklin

The Great Fast and Holy Week (new class)
Sue Ann Rudolphy
Andrea Riley
Amy Seyfried

From Pascha to All Saints (new class)
Sue Ann Rudolphy
Andrea Riley
Amy Seyfried

Services for the Living
Sue Ann Rudolphy

Hierarchical and Reader Services
Matthew Minerd

Services for the Departed (new class)
Robert Bartz
Sherill Franklin
Mary Hendricks
Steve Petach
Milan Revilak
Julia Revilakova
Andrea Riley
Sue Ann Rudolphy
Amy Seyfried
Patricia Yamrick

Services of Christmas and Theophany (new class)
Matthew Minerd
Julia Revilakova
Andrea Riley
Sue Ann Rudolphy
Amy Seyfried
Patricia Yamrick

Congratulations to all!  For more about MCI Online classes in 2020, see here

(By the way, the classes page now includes the total number of students who have completed each class.)

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.