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.
Mary Caryl Planiczki
Mary Frances Zadzilko
Nicholas J. Nagrant
Diane Ryan Oravecz
(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.