Letter from Choir Director Elizabeth

Byzantine Music Score11 September 2016 (N.S.)

Elizabeth (“the New Martyr”) Pappas, Choir Director
Orthodox Church of All the Saints of North America
Takhoma Park, Maryland

To the faithful of the choir:

Welcome back! After our light summer of only one choir practice of only 2 hours per week, we’re back to our usual winter schedule of practice after church on Sunday for 3 hours, and mid-week practice at 7:00 Wednesday, for 2. The unfortunate words that were spoken when a third practice was suggested have long been forgotten, and I suggest you do the same.

Father Peter has some new music he would like us to learn, especially things he picked up during his gap year after seminary, which as most of you know he spent in Siberia recording and transcribing liturgical music. Oh, and he hates it when you call him the “Alan Lomax of Orthodoxy” so don’t. But he has discovered some beautiful liturgical music, and some of it is possible to be sung by people who aren’t from Tuva. We will be learning all three of these pieces over the course of the next couple of months.

Finally just some pointers for our new and long-term members:

  • Please refrain from shouting out during the Divine Liturgy. I know when I ask you to turn to a certain page you might become very excited, but shouting “Hot diggity, Rimsky-Korsakov!” is not necessary.
  • Gents, when the women are practicing their ladies-only hymn, you may not use the time to loudly argue about your fantasy football teams. And please beware that there may be quiet points in the singing during which I can distinctly hear the sound of dice hitting the side of the kleros. Cut it out.
  • Ladies, we don’t have “chairs” like your high school band. There is no “lead” soprano. I arrange you in a way to balance the sound from the various voices. The soprano on the left is not the boss. In keeping with this point, the soprano on the left needs to stop telling all the other sopranos they’re flat. That’s my job.
  • All of you: the embarrassing incident this Sunday might have been avoided if you were watching me. When the sopranos started the Kievan Trisagion, and the altos started the Znameny, and the tenors started the Greek Melody, and the basses started — well, I’m not entirely sure what the basses were singing — it sounded very bad. Actually I’m not sure the basses knew what the basses were singing. Although I’m not sure it would be out of place in Tuva.
  • Lastly: if you get antidoron after the eucharist, do not come back to the choir and sing with your mouth full. Enunciation is key!

In Christ,


About Your Intrepid Blogger

I live in the Tacoma area. When not writing things some people think are funny, I teach technology to 7th and 8th graders at a local middle school.

3 comments on “Letter from Choir Director Elizabeth

  1. Another good one, Alex.

  2. Choir Director Elizabeth sounds kind of close to one of my choir directors. There must be a school for them.

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