Oh, man, you’re killin’ me

Yesterday, a well-meaning person asked me what the Orthodox tradition was with respect to paid — as in full-time and salaried — choir directors.

And, when I was done wiping the tears away from the peals of hysterical laughter, I explained that, in a nutshell, in historically Orthodox countries, it happens; in this country, lotsa luck. There are a very small number (single digit, I’d expect) of parishes in this country that can afford even a half-time salary for a choir director, let alone a full-time salary. If I had to guess, I’d say that probably being the chapel choir director at someplace like St. Vlad’s or Holy Cross Seminary is probably as good as it gets. I get a stipend, but it’s less than minimum wage once one figures out the actual hourly rate (particularly during Holy Week). “Professional Orthodox Church Musician” — we’re just not there yet, alas.

Someday somebody’s going to have start educating donors about the idea of endowing certain kinds of positions and ministries. It’s not unheard of, at least outside of Orthodox circles, for choir directors and music ministries in general to have their own endowments. Unfortunately, right now it’s not unheard of within Orthodox circles for priests to not be paid. All in good time.


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