St. Vladimir's Seminary Men's Choir on the road
Alla Generalow, Director of Liturgical Music at St. Vladimir's Seminary (SVS), conducted the seminary's touring men's choir at two parishes in Maryland on February 21 and 22, 2009. The choir sang at St. Mark Church in Bethesda, MD, a parish within the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), for Vespers, and Ss. Peter and Paul Church in Potomac, MD, a parish within the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America (AOCANA), for Divine Liturgy. The V. Rev. Gregory Safchuk (SVS '82), rector of St. Mark, and the V. Rev. George Rados (SVS '61), rector of SS. Peter and Paul, both are alumni of St. Vladimir's.
"All in all," said Fr. Safchuk of the seminarians' visit, "this was a very positive experience. They sounded great, were very friendly, and engaged in conversation with folks afterwards in the church hall. We had a very good turn out."
The mutual exchange between the seminary choir and the parishioners in the churches they visit creates an important bond that will provide benefits well into the future, notes Professor Generalow.
"Singing is one of the most beautiful and universally understood expressions of service to the Church," said Professor Generalow. "While 'on the road' on choir trips, the students share what they are studying musically, as they in turn experience the rich diversity of the parish communities to be visited. My hope is that these visits will create greater contact between the seminarians and the Orthodox faithful that ultimately, they will be called to serve someday, either as lay leaders or as clergy."
Traveling choral groups have been part of seminary's tradition since 1962, when the first men's "octet" began touring the country during the seminary's summer hiatus from classes. Members of that original octet included several seminarians subsequently ordained as priests-Frs. Stephen Kopestonsky, Thomas Hopko, Paul Kucynda, Paul Lazor, Oleg Olas, Peter Tutko, and Alexander Domouras-as well as David Drillock, who served for over 40 years as Professor of Liturgical Music at St. Vladimir's. Additionally, Fr. Hopko served as the Dean of St. Vladimir's and Professor of Dogmatic Theology from 1992-2002, having lectured and taught dogmatic theology at SVS since 1968; Fr. Lazor served as the Dean of Students and as the "John and Paraskeva Skvir Lecturer in Practical Theology," before he retired after 30 years of service in June 2007. That first of more than twenty subsequent octets visited 90 parishes in as many days during the summer of '62, and were met everywhere-in Orthodox parishes of widely varying ethnic backgrounds-with interest, gratitude, and readiness to support the mission and vision of the seminary.
"The revival of this much appreciated SVS tradition is really about serving our friends and supporters through the beauty of liturgical music," noted Archpriest Chad Hatfield, chancellor of SVS.