2017 Memorial Day Conductors’ & Singers’ Workshop at St. Tikhon’s Monastery

The Memorial Day Conductors’ & Singers’ Workshop started on Friday of Memorial Day weekend, May 26th 2017, at St. Tikhon’s Monastery in Waymart, PA and continued through the outdoor Hierarchical Service on Monday, May 29th. Unlike last year’s event, this year saw a change in concept: this year BOTH disciplines were represented, as the title of the event states. In addition, all ages were represented. The participants were given the honor of singing at two Divine Liturgies during the weekend.

Under the guidance of Artistic Director, Dr. Peter Jermihov, and support of expert faculty- Talia-Maria Sheehan, Anastasia Serdsev and Benedict Sheehan–the weekend was a resounding success. Led by Dr. Jermihov, participants who chose to conduct received over 12 hours of personalized instruction and podium time and subsequently had the unique opportunity to direct the Workshop Choir at two Divine Liturgies. Mr. Sheehan delivered an engaging lecture–Perspectives of a Choral Musician: Establishing Priorities for Work with a Church Choir and led a thought-provoking group discussion. Ms. Serdseva presented an inspiring lecture entitled Choral Tone and Prayer: What’s the Connection? and also contributed her talent as a conductor at the Liturgies. Ms. Sheehan taught a beautifully delivered and very well-received 3-hour workshop on vocal technique. All the practical training culminated with the Workshop Choir joining the St. Tikhon Monastery Choir in the prayerful singing of TWO Hierarchical Liturgies officiated by Metropolitan Tikhon of the US and Canada and many other clergy from around the US and Canada.

At the end of the second day of the event, the conductors/singers were scheduled to attend a dancing event in the local town of Honesdale but chose NOT to go. The group felt so invested in their efforts to make their performances, on both sides of the podium, their BEST. But to do so, Dr. Jermihov suggested they’ll need more practice. He told them they could go have fun and do their best at the Hierarchical service the next morning OR they could forgo the dance and assure themselves of their BEST performance. They chose the latter. That’s how dedicated this group was to doing their VERY BEST. By the time the day was over, everyone was totally spent but they were MORE than ready for the next morning’s services and really performed their hearts out at both services!

Although the participants were unable to attend Saturday’s dance, they did attend the St. Tikhon Chamber Choir’s performance at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Wilkes-Barre. The silence was deafening as the Choir sang the Orthodox Memorial Service for Czar Alexander III, by Smolensky, followed by a selection of Nine Sacred Pieces, by Tchaikovsky. The huge gothic cathedral served as an amazing acoustical environment that made the music even more powerful and touching. After the event all were invited to a reception in the hall of the Church with refreshments and snacks. Everyone in the group was immensely satisfied having attended this event.

After each of the Hierarchical services, PaTRAM’s host, Fr. Archimandrite Sergius, the Monastery’s Abbot, acknowledged PaTRAM and it’s faculty, staff and participants. Fr. Sergius stated how happy he and the Monastery are to host such events and their importance in perpetuating music traditions in our Churches. Metropolitan Tikhon acknowledged PaTRAM’s efforts and the importance of choral singing in the life of the Church and thanked the newly-tonsured Reader and Choir Master Benedict Sheehan and Dr. Peter Jermihov for their leadership.

Following is a short pictorial history of the event. Please enjoy it and thanks to everyone for their support.

Day 1: May 26th, 2017

Father Archimandrite Sergius, Abbot of St. Tikhon’s Monastery, welcomes the participants


Dr. Jermihov explains the structure of the workshop to the participants.


Day 2: May 27th, 2017

A student conductor practices his newly-acquired skills in practice with the Workshop Choir


Ms. Sheehan explains various singing techniques, including breathing and posture, to the group


Ms. Serdsev shares her expertise and knowledge with the Workshop


Day 3: May, 28th, 2017

Early morning before Hierarchical service – Dr. Jermihov and a student conductor do a final rehearsal


His Eminence Metropolitan Tikhon officiates the Sunday Divine Liturgy as the two Choirs sing


After Sunday services and lunch, the group goes back into rehearsals for Monday’s Divine Liturgy outdoors


Day 4: May 29th, 2017

One final run-through with the Workshop Choir before rehearsal with Mr. Sheehan’s Monastery Choir


The combined Choirs go through final rehearsals of their parts and the timing required to sing them. The Monastery Choir is on the left while the Workshop Choir is on the right


Dr. Jermihov, Ms. Serdsev, the PaTRAM staff and the Workshop find time for a group shot in the Seminary Chapel


Look for more photos on FaceBook.