St. Vladimir's Expands Byzantine Liturgical Music Program
"More than a third of our alumni are in jurisdictions that use Byzantine music," noted The Very Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield, chancellor/CEO at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary. "In order to serve the Church and our students preparing for service in these ecclesial settings, we are fortifying our Byzantine music course offerings and chapel music repertoire for the 2013–2014 Academic Year.
"We are particularly blessed that Mr. Rassem El Massih has joined our faculty as Lecturer in Liturgical Music," continued Fr. Chad. Instructor El Massih is a renowned church musician who will be teaching "Introduction to Byzantine Chant."
"He is one of the best cantors in the country," said El Massih's teacher, Grammenos Karanos, assistant professor of Byzantine Liturgical Music at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, Brookline, MA. "He is also one of few people who can perform chant in three languages—Greek, Arabic and English—and may very well be the best at this in the United States."
The Seminary is also offering a 10–week Byzantine music course to the general public on Wednesday evenings in collaboration with The Axion Estin Foundation of New Rochelle, NY. Eleftherios Eleftheriadis, the highly regarded Protopsaltis of St. Nicholas Shrine Church in Flushing, NY, who previously served on the faculty of the Music School of Thessaloniki, Greece, will introduce students to original texts in Byzantine music notation. (To register, call 914–961–8313 x317, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Bringing two world–renowned Byzantine music instructors to St. Vladimir's supports the Seminary's "Bishop Basil Program in Byzantine Liturgical Music," begun in 2010, when the seminary Board of Trustees presented The Right Rev. Basil (Essey) (alumnus '73) with an honorary doctorate and announced the creation of a program in his name "to ensure the heritage of teaching Byzantine music not only continues at St. Vladimir's but also evolves." Appropriately, His Grace Basil, bishop of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, will be a featured speaker at the Seminary's 75th Anniversary Gala Benefit Banquet, Thursday, November 7, 2013.
The Seminary's Alumni Association Board Chair Gregory Abdalah (alumnus '08) noted, "Bishop Basil has had a great influence on the development of Byzantine Music in English. Sayidna was a pioneer in translating the hymns into Western form, thus ensuring that the music would be accessible to America and in turn, teaching generations of seminarians who then taught their parishioners."
Recently, longtime seminary friend Tom Jacob hosted a reception in Wichita, KS to introduce people to the Seminary's Byzantine music initiatives. At the reception, with His Grace in attendance, Fr. Chad highlighted the Bishop Basil Program, which has a targeted funding goal of $250,000; he also described new music initiatives, including the Institute of Sacred Arts, a major aspect of the "SVOTS Strategic Plan 2020." Additionally, Fr. Chad and seminary Trustee Eric Namee presented Trustee Emeritus Dr. Glenn Kubina with a hand–painted icon of St. Vladimir holding Three Hierarchs Chapel, in gratitude for his more than twenty years of service to the Board.
- Register for the Axion Estin Byzantine Music Class by email or phone: 914–961–8313 x317
- About Rassem El Massih
- View a photo gallery of the Wichita reception
- Donate to the Bishop Basil Program
- Reserve your seat for the 75th Anniversary Banquet