Church Music Group


Bohdan Djakovic, University of Novi Sad (Novi Sad, Serbia)

Steering Committee:

Marios Christou, Charles University (Prague, Czech Republic)
Nicolae Gheorghita, National Music University of Bucharest (Bucharest, Romania)
John Graham, Princeton University (Ph.D. candidate) (Princeton, New Jersey, USA)
Alexander Khalil, University of California – San Diego (San Diego, California, USA)

Vision Statement

The sacred music of the Orthodox Church is not monolithic, but multifarious. The great corpuses of Byzantine chant, the various repertoires of Russian chant, Serbian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Georgian, and Arab traditions are all examples of collections of music for ritual worship that have developed over centuries and established a firm traditional basis for ecclesiastical chanting. As Orthodoxy has spread throughout the world, these repertoires have undergone change, in response to the linguistic and cultural challenges of new environments.

The Church Music Group of IOTA aims to be a place for open discussion of Orthodox church music of all kinds, avoiding narrowly phyletistic narratives and aiming to attract leading practitioners, composers, and scholars of church music from all over the world so that many aspects, including the historical, geographical, aesthetic, creative, and practical, of this extraordinary living legacy may be considered in an atmosphere of mutual learning and understanding.

To that end, aspects we would invite potential speakers to consider include, but are certainly not limited to the following:

  1. Traditional repertoires of Orthodox chant and their formation over the course of history;
  2. The way in which such repertoires have been adapted and transformed over the course of time;
  3. The way in which such repertoires have responded, or might respond, to adaptation to other languages or transplantation to new cultural environments;
  4. The way in which different styles of church music correspond to the needs of liturgical prayer;
  5. The theology of church music;
  6. Theories of liturgical music (ranging from the patristic to the contemporary);
  7. The aesthetics of church music;
  8. The composition of contemporary church music, in various traditions;
  9. Ways of discussing the transformation of repertoires (such as the purposeful simplification and harmonization of Byzantine chant and its formation of the basis of a new repertoire in the United States), how they might be evaluated historically and aesthetically, and how they may be incorporated into continuing historical narratives of Orthodox church music;
  10. Questions of politics and church music, which may include such subjects as nationalism, the intersection with western styles, and other external factors modifying a traditional corpus of chant.

We encourage submission of individual papers and panel sessions on any of the themes above, as well as free papers.

Another aspect of this group is the possibility of interaction with other institutions, such as the International Society for Orthodox Church Music (Finland) or the Saint John of Damascus Society (USA). Members of these Societies could bring group presentations to IOTA, and then hold separate meetings in parallel, if necessary and desirable: in any event, interaction with like-minded organizations is deemed essential to avoid duplication of effort and to encourage communication.