Third UGCC “SingCon” Gathers Over 80 Participants
More than 80 participants gathered from all across Canada and the United States of America for the third Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Singing Conference, popularly known as “SingCon,” at Saint Michael the Archangel Ukrainian Catholic Church in Welland, Ontario, from 28 September to 1 October 2023. The pastor of St Michael’s, Father Jaroslaw Lazoryk, and the parishioners welcomed the attendees and provided tasty meals in the parish hall. Over the course of four days, the participants attended workshops and rehearsals in preparation for the liturgical services during the gathering, particularly weekday Vespers in the evenings and Parastas in the mornings, as well as Great Vespers with Litia on Saturday evening for the Feast of the Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God, Sunday Matins, and the Hierarchal Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning. The men’s and women’s kliroi were directed by Reader Ilya Galadza and Dobrodiyka Melita Mudri-Zubacz, respectively.
Bishop Bohdan (Danylo) of the Eparchy of Saint Josaphat in Parma, Ohio, presided at the Saturday evening and Sunday morning services. Since its inception in 2018, Bishop Bohdan has been the patron of SingCon, when the gathering took place in Parma, Ohio. The second SingCon took place at St Basil’s Seminary in Stamford, Connecticut, in 2019. The 2020 gathering scheduled to take place in the Philadelphia Archeparchy was postponed due to the pandemic and replaced by various online teaching initiatives (https://ugccmusic.com/ntt) and resources (https://ugccmusic.com/resources-2). This third gathering is the first regular, in-person SingCon event organized after the pandemic.
This year’s SingCon was dedicated to the memory of the newly-reposed Archpriest Roman Galadza (1943–2023), pastor of Saint Elias Church in Brampton, who was active in the previous SingCon gatherings, guiding cantors throughout the world towards a better understanding and celebration of our rich liturgical heritage. The keynote address was given by Dr. Brian Butcher, a subdeacon of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and the ecumenical relations secretary for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, (https://www.cccb.ca/church-in-dialogue/). His stimulating talk addressed our own worship and the intersection between the psychology and sociology of singing with the experience and understanding of beauty. On Saturday evening after Great Vespers with Litia, the traditional Town Hall Discussion was moderated by Julian Hayda. Panelists included Bishop Bohdan, Hieromonk Herman, Dobrodiyka Kim Bombak, and Namisha Hlus, who discussed various questions, including inculturation and the use of English in worship, the resolutions of the recent Synod of Bishops of the UGGG held in Rome in September regarding ministry to Ukrainian refugees and the Ukrainian language, the participation of children in liturgical worship, and the meaning of “active participation” (participatio actuosa) in congregational singing.
The goal of SingCon is to advance the state and quality of church music in the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in the English-speaking world, gathering cantors, choir directors, singers, clergy, and others interested in church singing to meet one another, network, share resources, discuss various issues, and—most importantly—to pray together, glorifying God. SingCon sees the traditional Byzantine liturgy and chant of the UGCC as essential sources of liturgical and spiritual renewal for Christians in the twenty-first century. Following the principles outlined by Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky in his pastoral letter on church singing from 1941 (https://ugccmusic.com/sheptytskydecree), SingCon seeks to successfully integrate congregational and choral singing, raising both to the highest standard.
Participants left the gathering invigorated by the beautiful worship, more knowledgeable of UGCC singing tradition through workshops and rehearsals, better informed by the discussions, and energized by the fellowship and new friendships formed over the four days together.
More information on this and future gatherings can be found on the SingCon website (https://ugccmusic.com/singcon-2023) or on SingCon’s Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ugccmusic) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/ugccmusic/) pages, or by writing to [email protected].