Has it really been almost a year since I’ve written here? I guess it has. It’s just been that kind of a year.
Let me sum up the last 11 months by saying that it has never been boring, and it has at times been bittersweet. This last spring, drafts of sections of the Psalm 103 Project started trickling in; we also got the news that our beloved friend and collaborator Richard Toensing was terminally ill. He passed away in July, having left us with a gift of two absolutely glorious sections of music for the Psalm 103 Project. He swung for the fences with what he wrote, and while I am heartbroken that he will not be with us in body when it is finally performed, it is my hope that he will nonetheless have the best seat in the house. Memory eternal, dear friend.
I presented on the current state of Psalm 103 Project at Kurt Sander’s 2014 Pan-Orthodox Liturgical Music Symposium at Northern Kentucky University in June. Kurt was there, of course, as were fellow composers John Boyer and Matthew Arndt, and all three of them spoke briefly about their contributions. You can see the presentation for yourself here:
The response at the Symposium was excellent, I have to say, and there’s a real possibility that some really cool things will come out of it. Time will tell. As things sit right now, we’re very close to having a finished score; there are some revisions that a couple of composers have realized they need to make, and those will be done forthwith. Once we have a completed composition, I’ll have more to say about what happens next. I will hopefully be giving another status report on the project at the International Society for Orthodox Church Music (LINK) 2014 Conference in Joensuu, Finland; watch this space for details.
Meanwhile, we’ve not sit idle otherwise. Our first issue of Paraklitiki, our journal, will be coming soon, with articles by a couple of very recognizable names in the world of Orthodox music, as well as book reviews and new compositions. We’re going to unveil membership opportunities soon. We’ve continued to give talks and workshops at events like the Mideastern Federation of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians 2014 Choir Convention in Columbus, Ohio back in July. We’re involved in supporting the effort to start up an Orthodox institute at a university. I’m working on a project having to do with children’s music curriculum. The list goes on.
Over the next month, we’re going to be putting up short videos detailing some of the various projects we’re working on. This is leading up to #GivingTuesday (2 December) and our own patronal feast day, 4 December, which we’re calling #StJohnThursday. I invite you to consider prayerfully how you might support us over the next month and participate in our mission of revealing Orthodox Christianity through its sacred music. Also, as with the Kickstarter campaign last year, I’m using pictures — and video — of my son Theodore as an incentive. Here is a short video unveiling the #StJohnThursday campaign; please share it far and wide!