Octet's Fall Season of Song Concludes

16 December 2013 • Off-Campus • Octet News

Octet in Stroudsburg, PA (Photo: G. Hatrak)Octet in Stroudsburg, PA (Photo: G. Hatrak)By Hierodeacon Herman (Majkrzak), Director of Chapel Music and Lecturer in Liturgical Music

The Octet has had an active Fall. Though the first of our four engagements was not until early November, we spent September and October carefully preparing an extensive repertoire for what proved to be a strenuous but rewarding conclusion to the semester.

On November 7 we had the honor of attending the Seminary's 75th Anniversary Gala Banquet and singing a selection of hymns in honor our Seminary's patron, the Great Prince Vladimir, Equal of the Apostles. We also took the opportunity to recognize and honor all former members of the SVOTS Octet present that evening.

On Sunday, November 10, the singers left early in the morning to drive to the far end of Long Island where weSinging in Southampton, NY (Photo: J. Mindala)Singing in Southampton, NY (Photo: J. Mindala) chanted at the Kimisis Tis Theotoku Greek Orthodox Church of the Hamptons in Southampton. Seminary Dean The Very Rev. Dr. John Behr accompanied us and preached at Liturgy. It was a great joy to sing in this church's rich and live acoustical setting. We were warmly received following the service and a short concert, after which we were hosted at a fine local restaurant.

Our concert on Monday November 25 marked the culmination of nearly a year of brainstorming and planning. St. Vladimir's Seminary collaborated with St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Seminary (Dunwoodie) to produce "Magnificat," a program of hymns in honor of the Mother of God from Orthodox and Roman Catholic liturgical traditions. St. Jean Baptiste Catholic Church in Manhattan opened its doors for hundreds of people who came to hear both seminary choirs. The members of the Octet put in many hours at meticulous and demanding rehearsals, recordings of which were sent back to them a day or two later with copious notes on what needed improvement. Despite having such high expectations placed on them as an ensemble, each member rose to the occasion, practicing on his own and returning to the next rehearsal fully prepared. I could not have asked for a more willing and gifted choir.

The fruit of all that preparation paid off, not only with the great success of our concert in Manhattan, but with a repeat performance on December 8 at Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Stroudsburg, PA, with pastor, sessional faculty member, and alumnus The Rev. Dr. Nicholas Solak
Singing at the Anniversary Gala (Photo: R. Lisak)Singing at the Anniversary Gala (Photo: R. Lisak)

Accompanied by Chancellor The Very Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield, who preached at Divine Liturgy, and by The Rev. Dn Gregory Hatrak, who brought along many goods from the Bookstore, we left campus long before sunrise on the Sunday before finals week. Though a stressful time for all students, the Octet put in many hours on the road and in practice and performance, with their usual musical competence and cheery manner, singing at Divine Liturgy and at a special Christmas concert sponsored by the parish on Sunday afternoon.

Not only as ambassadors for the Seminary, but above all as liturgical musicians who lead the people of God in prayer and worship, the members of the St. Vladimir's Seminary Octet have mustered all their strength and skill this semester, making an offering that we pray is well-pleasing to God.