Robin Freeman, left, SVOTS Director of Music, coaching students in chapel [Photo: Adrienne Soper].
Saint Vladimir’s Seminary [SVOTS] recently launched a program that offers training for readers, choir conductors, and choir members in local parish settings. Called “Revitalizing Parish Music,” the program creates tailor-made solutions to typical problems experienced by church choirs and choir directors.
“Saint Vladimir’s has always striven to express the beauty of our faith through music, and to bring this into parishes,” said Robin Freeman, the new Director of Music at the seminary. “Thousands of faithful recall the Octet that traversed the country; the music books and CDs published by SVS Press that enriched music programs and introduced new repertoire; and the Institute of Liturgical Music and Pastoral Practice, which provided training for church musicians who desired to hone their skills. Our new program combines aspects of all these initiatives and brings them right into the parish.”
Mrs. Freeman, an accomplished singer and choral conductor, has developed half-day, full-day, and weekend workshops for parish choirs, addressing everything from “music reading skills” to “achieving a unified choral sound” for choir members; and everything from “building a vocabulary of gestures” to “placing singers in the correct voice parts” for directors. Parish choirs may choose from among a variety of sessions and workshops to suit the individual needs of their particular ensemble.
Parishes may even choose to invite the “SVOTS Chamber Choir” for the weekend. Chamber Choir section leaders can help train members of the parish choir by singing alongside them in rehearsals and liturgical services. The workshop can culminate in a concert performed by the parish choir or the Chamber Choir, or a combination thereof. A description of the program with sample sessions and workshops, pricing options and related information is available on-line.
The first parish choir to benefit from the program was at Holy Trinity Church, Danbury, CT, where Archpriest Luke Mihaly is the Pastor. Mrs. Freeman and her family attended Divine Liturgy at the parish; afterwards, she held an afternoon workshop tailored for the choir. Holy Trinity’s Choir Director, Stephen Fong, remarked that “Robin’s workshop was an overwhelming success. Her highly tailored approach, both before and during the event, and her expertise, professionalism, and enthusiasm made the most out of the time we had and brought our small choir to another level. We’re already looking forward to another visit!”
“Robin was able to make a real difference in our parish choir and thus the prayer life of our parish,” said Father Luke.
“I’m excited about this new venture,” concluded Mrs. Freeman, “as I further share whatever talent God has entrusted to me with our brothers and sisters in Christ and re-connect the Seminary with parish life.”