Sunday, November 16, 2014

A few useful resources for Russian-style Orthodox music in English

Particularly for those in the OCA. Choirs in small parishes often have to cobble things together from scratch in a rush. To that end, here are a few useful free resources, particularly for those in the OCA. However, I do strongly suggest purchasing resources (and if any of the resources below are not free for liturgical use, please acquire the rights to use them before using them). These resources here are also interesting in that they give some insight into what other people are doing with their choirs, which sometimes we don't get a good sense of. I mean, there are few places in your life that you're going to spend enough time at to get a good sense for how many different settings of the Cherubic Hymn they use, or perhaps you might not realize until you see that there are a LOT of different settings of the anaphora and perhaps some places use quite a few of them. Or perhaps you knew of the existence of some of these acrobatic settings, but never expected a choir to actually use them.

  • The OCA site itself has a lot of material. The Divine Liturgy section has a good chunk of the SVS liturgy book (which, by the way, you can sometimes find used for very cheap - I paid $3.98 for mine). However, not to be missed is the 16th AAC page, which has a link to all the music they used in the AAC.
  • The Canadian Archdiocese has a lot of material. There is almost enough to put on everything, though not necessarily all of your favorite settings of things. Between these two sites, you can perform vespers and liturgy with a fair amount of variation in everything. This site also has a goodly portion of the material needed for Lent, Holy Week, Pascha, and beyond. Several other OCA dioceses have some additional material on their sites.
  • A lot of everything. Quite fantastic. The first place you should look for variety.
  • The Saint Romanos the Melodist Society, not to be confused with the Society of Saint Romanos the Melodist. We need a few more saintly musicians... They have some wonderful and relatively complete stuff in more ROCOR translations for both vigil and liturgy.
  • Speaking of ROCOR music, the Chicago Diocese has a site.
  • Some parishes have put their choir binders online (or a good portion). For instance Dayton, St Seraphim, Salem (includes some mp3), the Riggs' site (quite a lot, not OCA translations), Merseyside, St John the Baptist in DC.
  • Some other parish sites have significant resources online, such as St Nicholas in Juneau, Rogers AR puts the weekly variable sheet music online,
  • The Antiochians put their music online as well, and a good portion of it is from the Russian tradition. I'm not as much of a fan of relying on them, since they have idiosyncratic translations and the good stuff can be found elsewhere, but to each his own.
  • There are a couple composers out there, like Kurt Sander and David Lucs, who provide good music. Richard Toensing, RIP, still has his site up. This is by no means everybody, but I'm not aware of any other composers with a substantial body of work on the internet on their own site (and welcome correction on this).
I know for a fact I'm leaving some resources off, I have a large folder full of bookmarks. I also have a large folder on my computer with a folder for every site containing all the PDFs I have pulled off of them. There are browser plugins that let you do this with the touch of a button, by the way. Of course, these are just the English resources. If you can typeset music on your own (by the way, Lilypond is very easy to learn, especially if you use Frescobaldi as the editor) and read a little Russian, even more scores become available for your use. EDIT: and sometimes you can find recordings of high-quality choirs, like this from November 2nd or November 16th which may give you ideas of what can be done.