In the vast majority of Orthodox parishes, the sacred musical tradition of Byzantine Chant is in danger of being lost. Nearly every parish struggles to find a chanter to lead their liturgical services – yet oftentimes, even when they do find someone, the candidate may be enthusiastic, but lacking the necessary training and resources to lead the rich, but musically-complex services of the Orthodox Church. Tragically, many of those enthusiastic students are unable to find an experienced teacher, due to the great geographical distances that separate them from the nearest qualified instructor. And so, in the vast majority of Orthodox parishes, no one stands able to carry on a musical tradition that has been used in prayer and corporate worship for over 1,500 years. The recent measures taken to combat the coronavirus – namely, the restriction of liturgical singing to one chanter per side and the short-term ban on larger choirs – has accentuated even more the need for Byzantine Chant training in every parish across the nation.
To combat this problem, Samuel Herron, Amy Hogg, and Gabriel Cremeens founded the Trisagion School of Byzantine Music – an online academy to provide comprehensive training in the oldest form of liturgical music in the Orthodox Church. Their vision: to train full-fledged Church musicians capable of leading their parishes’ music ministries, but without the student ever having to leave their home for instruction.
The courses offered through the Trisagion School will follow the flipped-classroom model. Pre-recorded instructional sessions and musical scores will be made available to students, who will study the materials on their own. Subsequently, group sessions of live class time offered via Zoom will allow students to pose questions and receive feedback in real time from the instructors, while also interacting with and learning from their fellow students. Private lessons will also be offered for students who wish to progress more quickly or who may require additional assistance.
Upon successful completion of the school’s curriculum, a student with no prior musical background will have completed the necessary training to execute all the sung portions of every liturgical service of the ecclesiastical year, and to do so with a deep understanding of the theological significance of musical ministry in the Orthodox Church, a strong appreciation for the 1,500-year history and tradition of Byzantine Chant, and a comprehensive knowledge of the rubrics and structure of the Church’s liturgical services. In short, they will possess all the necessary tools to lead both their choirs and congregations in corporate worship, and to do so with theological awareness and pastoral sensitivity. Furthermore, they will also be fully equipped to teach students of their own, ensuring the future of Church music in this country for generations to come.
Now, more than ever, during this time of uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the liturgical services of the Church are a source of spiritual hope and consolation for the Orthodox faithful around the world. Now, more than ever, chanters are called to be leaders in their parishes – not just musical and liturgical leaders, but spiritual ones. Trisagion School was founded to equip them for all these aspects of ministry – the ministry of helping to lead their fellow Orthodox Christians in worship in these difficult, and yet, paradoxically, spiritually ripe times in which the Church currently finds herself.
The investment of time necessary for a student to learn the art of Byzantine Chant is not insignificant. And yet this investment of time and effort is “seed planted in good soil”, which will “yield fruit a hundredfold,” (Matthew 13:8) as it brings increasingly greater joy and spiritual consolation to the Orthodox faithful, through the oldest sacred musical tradition of the Orthodox Church.
The time is ripe for this effort. Will you join us?
To register for classes, visit our Course Catalog Page.
Samuel Herron, Amy Hogg, and Gabriel Cremeens
Co-Founders, Trisagion School of Byzantine Music
Prior to 2020, Samuel, Amy, and Gabriel had been running their own individual, localized training programs in Byzantine Chant, which had already produced around 90 students who were active in the musical ministries of their respective parishes. Seeing the success of each other’s individual efforts, they founded the Trisagion School in order to combine their strengths and teach the sacred art of Byzantine Chant to even greater numbers of current and future Church musicians.