2023 Summer Music Institute

Summer institute 2023

Sing to the Lord a New Song: American Orthodox Music

St Vladimir’s Seminary and its Institute of Sacred Arts announce the 2023 Summer Music Institute, “Sing to the Lord a New Song: American Orthodox Music,” taking place on June 20–24. The focus of this year’s Institute is on the living practice of creative music-making and composition within the Orthodox liturgical tradition in North America. 

Participants will: 

  • Explore what it means to be striving for an American Orthodox musical tradition
  • Hear from and engage with our keynote speakers—acclaimed choral composers and writers working in this field
  • Hone their skills in musicianship and ear training coaching sessions
  • Rehearse and sing Benedict Sheehan’s Liturgy No. 2: The St. Michael’s Service, a new work composed expressly for skilled, non-professional church choirs
  • Be invited to submit compositions to be sung in a Contemporary Composer’s Reading Session, and receive feedback from faculty composers as well as institute instructors (optional)
  • Select the option to participate in a two-day private and small group coaching intensive in either conducting, composing & arranging, or vocal technique

Our keynote presentations will be offered by a diverse group of acclaimed composers who explore different areas of the tradition of Orthodox liturgical music. A highlight of the week will be the hierarchical liturgy in which participants will sing Benedict Sheehan’s Liturgy No. 2: The St. Michael’s Service, commissioned by St Michael’s Orthodox Church in Louisville, Kentucky.

By popular request and feedback from participants, we are pleased to add the Pre-Institute Intensive for two days before the Institute begins (June 19-20), as a concentrated immersion into specific areas of liturgical musical study. These two days are a chance to receive one-on-one and small group coaching in an intimate setting with world-class faculty, including Benedict Sheehan, Talia Sheehan, Juliana Woodill, and Harrison Russin.

The full Summer Music Institute will begin in the evening of Tuesday, June 20, and conclude on Saturday, June 24. Instruction at the Institute will focus on general musicianship skills, with tracks being offered for musicians of all skill levels. 

This year's Institute will run concurrently with the Diaconal Vocations Program of the OCA; daily services will be celebrated by students in the DVP and chanted by the students of the Music Institute.

Registration is closed.

Composing & Arranging, with Benedict Sheehan
Church Conducting, with Juliana Woodill and Harrison Russin
Vocal Technique, with Talia Sheehan  

Participants will enjoy 9 hours of instruction in a combination of small groups and one-on-one coaching, taking place on Monday, June 19, and Tuesday, June 20. The Pre-Institute Intensive will be limited to four students per faculty member in order to maximize personal feedback. 

Our days at the Summer Institute will combine the exploration of the unique landscape of Orthodox music in North America with the refinement of our skills as choral musicians.

The Institute proper will begin with a keynote lecture by Benedict Sheehan on Tuesday, June 20. Participants will enjoy keynote presentations from several Orthodox composers, each bringing unique perspectives on the missionary work of American Orthodox music. Keynotes will be part-lecture, part-music reading session, and part-discussion. 

Benedict Sheehan will lead daily rehearsals to prepare participants to sing his newly published Liturgy No. 2: The St. Michael’s Service at a hierarchical liturgy celebrated by His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon on the morning of Friday, June 23 in the Three Hierarchs Chapel. 

This year we are pleased to offer a Contemporary Composer’s Reading Session. Participants will be invited to submit compositions for this session, held in the afternoon on Friday, June 23 (optional). Institute faculty will collect submissions and provide feedback.

The Summer Music Institute will conclude after Divine Liturgy and brunch on Saturday, June 24.

Virtual auditors will be able to attend keynote lectures, rehearsals, the reading session, and one of the musicianship classes virtually. The chapel services will also be live-streamed.

As a complement to our exploration of American Orthodox music, this year the Institute will offer a series of daily musicianship classes to help participants hone their sight singing, ear training, and music theory skills. Instructors will offer new and engaging techniques and tools that participants will find useful whether they are church singers or choir directors. Participants will select their preference for Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced Musicianship Classes.

(Note: Specific instruction in composition, conducting, and vocal technique will only be offered during the two-day, Pre-institute Intensive coaching.)

This year we are honored to welcome four composers to lead discussions of their music in particular, and the state and direction of Orthodox liturgical music composition in general.

Benedict Sheehan

Benedict Sheehan
Two-time GRAMMY® nominee and American Prize-winner Benedict Sheehan has been called “a choral conductor and composer to watch in the 21st century” (ConcertoNet) and “a remarkable musician” (Choral Journal). He is Artistic Director and Founder of Artefact Ensemble and the GRAMMY®-nominated Saint Tikhon Choir, and Artist in Residence at St. Tikhon’s Monastery in Pennsylvania. His compositions have been praised as “luminous and uplifting” (Choir & Organ), “evocative” (Gramophone), “hypnotically beautiful” (MusicWeb International), “fresh and vibrant” (Audiophile Audition), and “otherworldly” (Boston Musical Intelligencer), and his performances have likewise been described as “technically flawless” (Musical America), “choral singing at its most exquisite” (HRAudio), “extravagantly beautiful” (The American Organist), and “beyond praise for excellence” (Fanfare Magazine). His award-winning recordings with the Saint Tikhon Choir include his Eastern Orthodox liturgical works Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (2020) and Vespers (2021), as well as two acclaimed collaborations with Skylark Vocal Ensemble on Once Upon A Time (2020) and A Christmas Carol (2021), works for chorus and narrator.


Mother Katherine Weston
Abbess Katherine has been the superior of the St Xenia Monastic Community for over 30 years. The community fosters the creative expressions of all its members. Over the years, M. Katherine has painted icons and taught iconography. She composed, performed, and recorded songs for a coffeehouse youth program in the ’90s. She earned her master’s in counseling at a local seminary and set up a private counseling practice to help support the monastery. She is a founding member and current president of the Fellowship of St Moses the Black. She speaks at the annual conferences and has published four books based on her talks. She is also the general editor of the Fellowship’s Unbroken Circle Press, recently publishing Jubilation: Cultures of Sacred Music. Also on behalf of the Fellowship, 18 years ago she began exploring the use of African American Spirituals as a wellspring for Orthodox liturgical composition. She currently collaborates with Zhanna Lehmann, DMA, who critiques pieces in progress and performs and records them with her Illinois Orthodox Choir. M. Katherine’s current project is a setting for the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom for first-time use at the Fellowship’s October 2023 conference in Houston.


Dawn Helene
Dawn Helene was named Dino Anagnost Artist-in-Residence by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in New York City in 2019. After arranging dozens of pieces for the Cathedral Choir’s use in liturgical and concert settings, her first full liturgy will receive its premiere performance at the annual conference of the Archdiocesan District’s Federation of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians in November 2023. Her Great Doxology was part of the Archdiocese’s Centennial Concert at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in July of 2022, and she will be among the composers featured at the annual meeting of the National Forum of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians in St Louis this July. Dawn came to Orthodoxy and the Cathedral in 2016, immediately joining the choir as a second alto. The following summer she began studying Byzantine chant and was appointed as the organist in the fall of 2021. Prior to her chrismation in January of 2017, Dawn had served as a chorister, pianist, organist, and/or choir director at a variety of Lutheran and Episcopal churches in New York, California, Minnesota, and North Dakota. She received a Master of Music degree in Piano Performance from the University of Minnesota in 1984.


Summer Music Institute Instructors

Juliana Woodill


Juliana Woodill is a choral director and National Board Certified Teacher at Fairfax High School in northern Virginia. She is an active musician, conductor and clinician both for the Orthodox Church and professionally. She conducts at All Saints of America Mission in Alexandria and founded the Archdiocesan Choir of Washington, D.C., a liturgical ensemble comprised of Orthodox singers from Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. She was a featured conductor at the International Symposium of Orthodox Church Musicians Conference in 2016 and 2018 and has taught as a guest lecturer and conductor at both St. Tikhon’s and St. Vladimir’s Seminaries. Juliana grew up singing in the Orthodox Church and has participated in choirs since the age of 8, going on to receive a Bachelor of Music in Music Education and Musical Theater from Westminster Choir College. She studied conducting with Dr. Joe Miller and sang with the Westminster Symphonic Choir under the baton of many conducting greats, including Christoph Eschenbach, Neeme Jarvi, Pierre Boulez, and Kurt Masur. Additionally, she teaches at Fairfax High School where she conducts multiple ensembles and teaches music theory. She is a respected clinician, adjudicator, and guest conductor throughout the state of Virginia. She loves the opportunity to bring the musicianship and skills of the choral world into the church setting.


Benedict Sheehan

Benedict Sheehan

Two-time GRAMMY® nominee and American Prize-winner Benedict Sheehan has been called “a choral conductor and composer to watch in the 21st century” (ConcertoNet) and “one of the most important voices in American Orthodox choral music” (Choral Journal). He is artistic director and founder of Artefact Ensemble and the GRAMMY®-nominated Saint Tikhon Choir, and Artist in Residence at St. Tikhon’s Monastery in Pennsylvania. His works have been variously described as “brilliant” (Choir & Organ), “otherworldly” (Boston Musical Intelligencer), “evocative” (Gramophone), “extraordinary” (Limelight), and “simply beyond praise for excellence” (Fanfare). His music is published by Oxford University Press and Artefact Publications, and has been performed by many of the world’s leading vocal ensembles, including Skylark, Conspirare, the Houston Chamber Choir, Cappella Romana, the Kansas City Chorale, the BBC Singers, and many others. His new oratorio Akathist will be premiered in New York in November of 2023 by the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, Downtown Voices, Trinity Youth Chorus, and NOVUS NY in collaboration with Artefact Ensemble. Alongside his numerous other commissions, Benedict is currently working on a Ukrainian War Requiem for Axios Men’s Ensemble and Pro Coro Canada, slated to be premiered in Edmonton in April of 2024. He lives and works in Pennsylvania with his wife, vocalist and music educator Talia Maria Sheehan, and together they have seven daughters who range in age from six to twenty-one.


Talia Maria Sheehan


Talia Sheehan is a fourth-generation female music leader. She teaches students of all ages and abilities in many genres, styles, venues, and worship traditions. She has created and implemented music training programs for many different sacred institutions. She is the founding director of the St. Tikhon’s Music Program, an intensive training program for Orthodox Christian sacred musicians. She is a sought-after guest clinician and consultant. She is also the co-founder and Executive Director of Artefact Institute, a collective of “culture creators” who work to build living contexts for the arts and to strengthen community. As a professional ensemble singer, she has performed and recorded with Cappella Romana, the Grammy-nominated Saint Tikhon Choir, the Grammy-nominated PaTRAM Institute Singers, and Artefact Ensemble.


Harrison Russin


Harrison Russin is the Prokofiev Assistant Professor of Liturgical Music at St Vladimir’s Seminary, as well as the Director of Music at the Seminary. Dr Russin has a PhD in historical musicology from Duke University, and has published and lectured internationally on medieval and renaissance music. He is also an active church musician, directing three choirs at St Vladimir’s Seminary, teaching courses in singing, reading, music theory, composition, and conducting, and serving as a consultant to the Orthodox Church in America’s Department of Liturgical Music and Translation. Harrison and his wife met as seminarians at St Vladimir’s Seminary, and they are both honored to be back working and living at their alma mater.


Music Institute Schedule 2023* 


Monday Exclusive Coaching: Pre-Institute Intensive Day 1

Tues Exclusive Coaching: Pre-Institute Intensive Day 2


SMI Day 1


SMI Day 2


SMI Day 3


SMI Day 4

7:30 am






9:15 am


Individual Lessons

Musicianship Class

Musicianship Class

Hierarchical Liturgy


10:30 am

Track Class 

Individual Lessons





12:00 pm





Free time


1:00 pm

Individual Lessons

Group Coaching

Musicianship Class

Musicianship Class

Free time


3:00 pm

Individual Lessons

Group Coaching 



4th Composer Presentation


5:00 pm

Opening Moleben

Vespers/ Welcome Dinner

Vespers/Dinner (2 Choirs)

Vespers/Dinner (2 Choirs)

Vespers/Dinner (2 Choirs)


7:00 pm

Group Coaching 

B. Sheehan Keynote/ Rehearsal 1

2nd Composer Presentation

3rd Composer Presentation

Composer Reading Session/ Panel 

*Draft Schedule (Subject to Change)
**All Times EDT

Hotel and Lodging Information

We have several blocks of rooms reserved at the local Hampton Inn & Suites and at the SpringHill Marriott, with a discounted rate of $149 per night for Institute participants. The Hampton Inn and SpringHill Suites will also provide shuttle service to and from the Seminary for those needing transportation.

Airport Information

The two most convenient airports to St Vladimir's Seminary are LaGuardia (LGA) and Westchester County (HPN). An app-based car service (like Uber or Lyft) from LaGuardia to the Seminary usually costs $40-$70 for a one-way trip.
St Vladimir's Seminary is located at 575 Scarsdale Road, Yonkers, NY 10707. Some map and GPS programs may prefer "Tuckahoe" as the city name.

Meals and Food

Meals will be provided on-campus, including continental breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Please note that the Institute occurs during the Apostles' Fast this year, and all meals will be fasting.

Meals for the pre-Institute intensive will cost $60. Meals for the Institute will cost $105.

All meals are included in the registration price.

We have a limited amount of financial assistance we can offer to in-person applicants for the Music Institute (June 20–24). Please email musicinstitute@svots.edu for information.

We are willing to accommodate cancellations, but as the Institute approaches, we have to enforce a cancellation policy. This is because we have had to turn down registrants who otherwise would be able to participate if there were space. Please email musicinstitute@svots.edu with any cancellation requests. Here is the schedule for refund eligibility: 

  • Until June 5, you can receive a 50% refund.

  • From June 6 to June 11, you can receive a 30% refund.

  • From June 12 onward, no refunds are available.