The Lenten Choir Retreat at St Xenia the Blessed Parish Ends with a Hierarchal Liturgy

From Thursday, March 13, through Sunday, March 16, St Xenia the Blessed Church in Methuen, MA, hosted a Lenten Choir Retreat for its choir and guests. The focus of the retreat was spiritual singing, uniting professionalism with prayer.

Twenty-five singers, attending from as far away as eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey, prepared four services over the course of the retreat, rehearsing several hours each day. Rehearsals were enhanced by three edifying presentations. On Friday, Laryssa Doohovskoy, choir director at St Xenia’s, spoke about vocal health. She provided tools for church musicians to get through the rigorous demands of singing throughout Great Lent, Holy Week and Pascha. Vladimir Morosan, founder and president of Musica Russica, gave an enlightening video presentation entitled "The Musical Ethos of Orthodox Lenten Services." Following the presentation, Dr Morosan met with participants, via Skype, for a Q&A session. On Saturday, Reader Robert Stauffer of St Xenia’s Church instructed participants on "The Canon as a Musical Construct." He outlined the history of the Canon, and how it has evolved over the centuries to form what is found in today’s matins service.

Conductors Laryssa Doohovskoy, Alexander Cooley, Patricia Klar, and Nicholas Ilyin worked with Benedict Sheehan, co-founder and vice-rector of the PaTRAM Institute, and choir director at St Tikhon’s Monastery and Seminary in South Canaan, PA, to hone their skills.

Highlighting the retreat were Skype sessions with Maestro Vladimir Gorbik, choir director at the Moscow Representation Church of Holy Trinity-St Sergius Lavra. During these sessions, Maestro Gorbik worked with both the choir and the conductors to enhance their professional approach to liturgical music.

The retreat concluded on Saturday and Sunday ‒ the Sunday of St Gregory Palamas ‒ with hierarchal divine services led by His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York. At Divine Liturgy and all-night vigil that preceded it, His Eminence was co-served by parish clergy: Rector Archpriest Michael Crowley, Priest Constantine Desrosiers and Deacon Alexander Doohovskoy, as well as Hieromonk Tikhon (Gayfudinov; cleric of the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City).

At the minor entrance, Fr Constantine was awarded the right to wear the purple skufia. Upon completion of the Liturgy, the Metropolitan addressed worshippers with an edifying sermon on the meaning of Great Lent, as well as the life and labors of St Gregory Palamas.

After the service, a pannikhida was served on the occasion of the 6th anniversary of the repose of the ever-memorable Metropolitan Laurus (Skurla; +2008), fifth First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad.


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