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Posts Tagged 'alexander khalil'

The St. John of Damascus Society

I have been making random references to something called “The St. John of Damascus Society” for a few months now, and I can finally say something a bit more concrete.

The really short version is that in the planning for the Orthodox Music Symposium at Indiana University, it became apparent that it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for there to be a group that had administrative and financial independence from the church for purposes of putting together such things. We were piggybacking onto the parish for our tax-exempt status, and that nearly cost us a couple of our major supporters; plus, it would just be cleaner if we were able to have our own checkbook. The initial idea was something like a “Friends of Music at All Saints” or “All Saints Music Boosters”, and I went to Hal Sabbagh, a longtime chanter at and founding member of All Saints, to see what he thought. He was supportive of the idea, and was willing to help out however he could.

We incorporated as a non-profit in the state of Indiana last July; the next step was tax-exempt status, which meant assembling a board. Our Advisory Board consists of all of the presenters for the Symposium — John Michael Boyer, Alexander Khalil, Kurt Sander, Richard Toensing — as well as Matthew Arndt, an old friend of mine, one of the cantors at St. Raphael of Brooklyn Church in Iowa City and music theory professor at University of Iowa (as well as a former student of Richard Toensing’s). Our Executive Board consists of: Hal Sabbagh, president; Vicki Pappas, national chair of the National Forum of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians, vice-president; Laura Willms and Brian Rogers, two more very supportive cantors at All Saints, are secretary and treasurer, respectively; rounding out the Executive Board are Franklin Hess, coordinator of the Modern Greek program at Indiana University, and Patrick Michelson, the newly-hired (as of the 2011-12 academic year) Russian Orthodoxy specialist in IU’s Religious Studies department.

All of these people gave generously of their time, effort, and advice. By November we had everything we needed to assemble our application for federal tax-exempt status, and that went in the mail on 14 November.

As Hal found out over the phone with the IRS two days ago, our application for federal tax-exempt status was granted on Monday of this week, and we will be receiving a letter within the next couple of weeks with our number. So, time to get serious.

The St. John of Damascus Society, with everybody who is involved, has developed its scope significantly beyond being All Saints’ music boosters. The basic idea is to promote the idea of excellence in traditional forms of Orthodox music as good outreach — that singing well and singing prayerfully not only do not constitute a dichotomy, but it can serve as a powerful witness to those around us. We have a number of ideas about things we want to do locally, regionally, and nationally, and while we’ve waited for tax-exempt status to be sewn up before we went public with anything, I can tell you you’ll be hearing more very soon, including ways you can be involved.

We hope to have a website up shortly; in the meantime, if you’re interested in the St. John of Damascus Society based on this little teaser, would you mind filling out this form? That’ll make it really easy for us to get announcements to you as we make them. You can also follow us on Twitter.

Thanks very much, and I will have more to say very soon!

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So it has come to this.

As I suspected might happen, the talks I gave as a Lenten retreat at St. Paul’s Orthodox Church in Emmaus, PA this last weekend have been posted to Ancient Faith Radio.

A few things: I’ll have a full write-up of the Emmaus trip a little later, but I had a lovely time. Fr. Andrew Damick is a wonderful priest with a wonderful parish, and I very much enjoyed getting to know all of them.

Nobody needs to tell me that there are some baubles in both talks, certainly in the musical examples, and then there are a couple of points that I certainly simplified for purposes of time. I also got a couple of things wrong (Philotheos Kokkinos is in fact a saint, as Fr. Andrew pointed out to me afterward, and Timothy McGee appears to be Canadian, not American, but at least he’s North American, I suppose). Fr. Andrew also mentions in my introduction that I’m “fluent” in Greek, which I most certainly am not, but he was being kind. On the musical baubles, I was also there as a guest cantor, by the time the first talk happened I had already sung three services, and while I was just mentally waking up by the time I went on, I was starting to lose a bit of musical steam. I know, excuses, excuses. Nonetheless, on the whole, I’m pleased with how they turned out.

This does represent at least a “soft opening” for the Saint John of Damascus Society, and while we’re still waiting for our tax-exempt status to come back before we really unveil everything, I can say that http://www.johnofdamascus.org is registered and will be live once tax-exempt status is in hand and we can really be open for business, as it were. In the meantime, if you’re intrigued by anything you hear in these talks, by all means ask me.

Audio from Orthodox Music Symposium now on Ancient Faith Radio

The talks from “We Knew Not If We Were In Heaven Or On Earth: Music, Liturgy, and Beauty in Orthodox Christianity” are now posted on Ancient Faith Radio’s website. Many thanks to John Maddex for making them available through this medium! Also, photos from the event can be viewed here — thanks to Anna Pougas for being the day’s official (more or less) photographer!

Orthodox Music Symposium at Indiana University — “We knew not if we were in heaven or on earth…”: Music, Liturgy, and Beauty in Orthodox Christianity

Given that there are two performing members of Cappella Romana on the panel, as well as two composers whom CR has performed, CR was nice enough to include a notice about the Symposium in their current e-newsletter (thank you, Mark!). For those readers clicking through to my blog for information (and anybody else who is finding this site looking for Symposium details), here’s the scoop:

All Saints Orthodox Church and The Early Music Institute of the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music present:

The Musical Heritage of the Orthodox Church

“We knew not if we were in heaven or on earth…”: Music, liturgy, and beauty in Orthodox Christianity

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Sweeney Hall (Simon Music Center 015)

Lecture recitals and panel discussion featuring:

Schedule:

  • 8:00am: Hall opens
  • 8:30am: Brief introductory remarks
  • 9:00: Boyer
  • 10:00: Khalil
  • 11:00-11:30: Break
  • 11:30: Sander
  • 12:30: Toensing
  • 1:30: Panel discussion, moderated by Dr. Vicki Pappas, National Forum of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians National Chairman

Download a poster here. Download a press release here.

This program has been made possible by a matching grant from the Indiana Humanities Council, in cooperation with the National Endowment for the Humanities. Additional co-sponsors include:

For any additional information, please e-mail me at rrbarret (AT) indiana.edu or call me at (812) 219-0286.

Looking forward to seeing you all there!

Orthodox Music Symposium at Indiana University a recipient of grant from the National Form of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians

I just found out this evening that we are the recipient of a grant from the National Forum of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians. As with all the other organizations that have been generous in supporting us, I’m incredibly grateful, but it is wonderful to see our little event, intended to represent a cross-section of musical heritages of the Orthodox world, be supported across jurisdictional lines. Dr. Vicki Pappas, National Chairman of the National Forum, cited this as a factor in the award letter:

The members felt that while it was unusual for us to support an individual parish and one not within the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese’s jurisdiction, we also felt that your plans were cross-jurisdictional and served to highlight and benefit Orthodox church musicians in general to a very high degree.

In a way, the National Forum grant application is what got this going in the first place. Originally I had just planned on having John Boyer and Kurt Sander, and then I helped another organization write a National Forum grant proposal. While I was writing it, I realized — “Hey! I could apply for one of these too! And actually, if I expanded the slate of speakers, I’d have a better proposal!” So I checked with Alexander Khalil and Dr. Toensing to see if they were up for it — they were, and I submitted the application. After that, I got to thinking — “You know, I have a finished grant proposal sitting on my hard drive that I might be able to tailor for other organizations.” So, I started looking around to see what else might be out there, and — well, things happened from there.

All of this is to say, I’m really thrilled that the grant proposal that started the ball rolling to begin with bore fruit in the end. Thank you very much, Dr. Pappas and the National Forum!

Orthodox Music Symposium at Indiana University recipient of Humanities Initiative Grant from the Indiana Humanities Council

Between school, the symposium, and Flesh of My Flesh being on her yearlong adventure in Germany, my life has been pretty much consumed on all fronts as of late, but I found out some fantastic news tonight that I wanted to make sure was disseminated as quickly and thoroughly as possible.

The symposium has been awarded a $2,000 Humanities Initiative Grant from the Indiana Humanities Council. I found out about this particular funding opportunity back in July, and as the deadline was 2 August I had to assemble the application very quickly (not to mention while I was in the middle of Kurt Sander’s recording project), but Prof. Rosemarie McGerr, the director of IU’s Medieval Studies Institute, and Mark Trotter, the Assistant Director and Outreach Coordinator for IU’s Russian and East European Institute, were very helpful and generous with their time, and provided wonderful letters of support for the proposal. After I hit “send” in the Starbucks in NKU’s student union building, there was nothing but to keep working on other sponsorship possibilities, and hold my breath.

In many ways I am less excited about the financial support than I am thrilled that the merit of what we’re putting together is being visibly acknowledged. I look at this as a huge step forward in terms of forging a relationship between All Saints and the university where together we can put together events that cultivate interest in Orthodox Christianity and raise awareness that All Saints exists in the first place. This is an academic event, yes, and it seems to me that there is much that an Orthodox parish in a college town should be able to offer in terms of intellectual and cultural interest, but it is also as a form of outreach to the campus. This is a way of being able to say, “Come and see.” Or, in this case, “Come and hear.”

It’s also a demonstration that support is out there for projects like this, and that All Saints doesn’t have to be the little church in the middle of nowhere that everybody ignores. I’m supposed to write letters to Indiana’s congressional delegation so that they know this is happening, since this is ultimately federal money. Yes, there is an Orthodox church in Bloomington, and even our congressmen know it!

By the way, if you aren’t able to attend the symposium but still want to support us in some way, please get in touch with me. Even with the IHC grant, there are still plenty of opportunities to be involved from afar. Drop me a line at rrbarret (AT) indiana.edu.

I guess this is technically publicity for the symposium, so that means I have to include this text: This program has been made possible through a matching grant from the Indiana Humanities Council in cooperation with the National Endowment for the Humanities.

An update on the IU Orthodox Music Symposium

Some additional details on the Orthodox Music Symposium being held on the Indiana University campus:

  • The event will be titled, “The Musical Heritage of the Orthodox Church: Music, Liturgy, and Beauty in Orthodox Christianity”.
  • It will be in Sweeney Hall (Simon Center 015) at the IU Jacobs School of Music.
  • A tentative schedule is as follows:
    • 8am: Hall opens
    • 8:00-8:30: Continental breakfast (incentive to come early!)
    • 8:30-8:50: Introductory remarks
    • 9:00-9:50: Lecture recital #1 (we haven’t yet determined the speaker order)
    • 10:00-10:50: Lecture recital #2
    • 11:00-11:30: Break
    • 11:30-12:20: Lecture recital #3
    • 12:30-1:20: Lecture recital #4
    • 1:30-2:30: Panel discussion and Q&A

I also pleased to announce some additional sponsorships:

There are some additional irons in the fire where support is concerned that I hope to be able to announce in the near future. In the meantime, I can also say that one organization in particular, while feeling it was too late to get involved this time around, said that they would be very interested in supporting future projects like this, and asked what I might be thinking about. I told them something I had in mind, and they nodded vigorously and said, “Yes, that’s exactly the kind of thing we want to get behind.” So, we’ll see what happens. I am hopeful that the outcome of this development will also be positive with respect to these kinds of events.

In the meantime, if you want more information or are interested in supporting the Symposium, please contact me at rrbarret (AT) indiana.edu or call me at (812) 219-0286.


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