Sacred Art, Sacred Music," which will be held this coming March 1-3 at St. Jonah Orthodox Church in Spring, Texas. The speakers will be Archimandrite Luke Murianka and the composer Kurt Sander." /> Ancient Faith Radio

Bobby Maddex: Welcome to Ancient Faith Presents. I’m Bobby Maddex, operations manager of Ancient Faith Radio. Today I will be speaking with Deacon David Companik, the spokesman for an upcoming conference titled Sacred Art, Sacred Music, which will be held this coming March 1-3 at St. Jonah Orthodox Church in Spring, Texas. Welcome to the program, Dn. David.

Deacon David Companik: Thank you for giving me an opportunity to be here with you and share more about this event.

Mr. Maddex: So tell me, what is this conference, Sacred Art, Sacred Music?

Dn. David: It’s an emphasis on the collaboration of the icon with the hymns and musical heritage of the Orthodox Church. It underscores how those two together work to raise the Church from an earthly level to a communication to a relationship with God in the Church.

Mr. Maddex: And what inspired the event? Who had the idea, and why was it decided that this should be done?

Dn. David: In years past, St. Jonah Orthodox Church has held several annual icon exhibits, and at the icon exhibits we would present usually between 50-70 icons, 18th-19th century Russia, that are owned by one of our parishioners who collects icons and keeps them in a church, actually, now, that he’s constructed on his property. He would give us the opportunity to share these icons with the public, and we would advertize this event in the Houston area and try to draw people who are interested in art or culture, history. We would also usually have a small choir presentation. Our parish choir would sing some hymns usually from select pieces from the Church, so we would give people the opportunity to experience both the art and the music of the Orthodox Church.

We skipped last year, following the construction of our church. We just had too much going on, too much to recover from. This year we wanted to hold our exhibit, but to do so with a little more broad perspective, and a stronger emphasis on the hymns and musical heritage of the Church. We have now, titled Sacred Art, Sacred Music, [a presentation] introducing the Orthodox Church and a little more particularly the Russian Orthodox, to people in the Houston area, or wherever they may come from. We actually have some people who will be coming from a few states away, traveling to this event.

Mr. Maddex: I’ve seen the brochure for the event, and I should point out, too, that Ancient Faith Radio will be in attendance this year, doing some recording there, so if you’re not able to attend and live just too far away, we will be featuring it on the radio station. But there’s a lot going on—what all will be occurring at the Sacred Art, Sacred Music conference?

Dn. David: Each day, Friday through Sunday, March 1-3, the church will be open for certain hours, which can be obtained from our website which I’ll provide later, so you can come just to see the iconography, and it’ll be all set up in the church. We’ll have brochures that’ll be available to describe the icons that are present so that someone who’s not familiar with them will know what’s being depicted and perhaps what the general significance of the icon is.

Then we’ll also have a schedule of presentations which will be given by our two guest speakers. Those are: the Very Reverend Archimandrite Luke. He is the abbot of the Holy Trinity Monastery at Jordanville, New York. That’s a well-known monastery within the Russian Church Abroad, and it’s sort of the heart of ROCOR in the United States. We’ll be very pleased to have Archim. Luke with us to speak about iconography. He is himself an iconographer, and, of course, he has a rich heritage of monasticism in the spiritual tradition of the Church, so he can share quite a bit with us about those aspects of iconography and their place within the Church.

Also we’ll have with us Kurt Sander. He’s an associate professor of music theory and composition and a department chair at the Northern Kentucky University. He’s also a well-known Orthodox composer. He’s composed a number of pieces that were also recorded and are presented on a CD that, I believe, is called As Far as the East is from the West: New Orthodox Choral Music. So we’re very pleased to have him there, because he will be speaking about the hymns of the Church, the music of the Orthodox Church, and giving us some insight into that. His presentation will be an element of our choral performance, which will be occurring on Sunday the third at 3:30 p.m. As part of that public choral performance, we will have Kurt Sander there to talk about the music of the Church.

Mr. Maddex: Dn. David, for whom is this conference intended? Is it just for the community abroad, is it for people who have a specialized interest in iconography and music? Who are you hoping will attend?

Dn. David: We hope that anyone, everyone will attend. We are opening this to the public. It’s free of charge, so there’s no cost to attend. In terms of our advertizing focus, to be a little bit more selective, we are focusing a bit on the community of art students maybe, or music majors, people whether in colleges, universities, or simply involved in local organizations that emphasize the arts, culture, music, and history.

I have a Facebook ad that I ran for our event, and I targeted many of those different groups and interests and demographics that were just described. We do feel that, especially people who appreciate fine art and music will be interested in attending, but of course the mystical beauty of the Orthodox Church is something that anyone who encounters it will certainly be amazed by that aspect of sacredness and spirituality that’s found within the Orthodox Church. Anyone can come, and anyone, we hope, will come. That’s our general goal: not only to enrich the lives of Orthodox Christians in the Houston area who get to come and attend the event, but also to introduce the Church to those who are outside of it.

Mr. Maddex: You mention that the event is free to the public. What all is included in that? Are meals provided? How does that all work?

Dn. David: Meals are not provided. There will be some ethnic foods and pastries and beverages that will be offered for sale. The sisterhood of St. Jonah Church will be in charge of that side of things, so we will be able to provide refreshments, but at a cost. But other than that, people will be able to come, attend any of the presentations, see the iconography, listen to the choral performance, and all of that will be free. We do have a book- and an icon-store at our parish as well, and so that will be open for business during all three days. People will have an opportunity to purchase books, CDs, icons, and other related items that may be of interest, whether they’re Orthodox or not.

Mr. Maddex: What do you and the other conference organizers hope that attendees will take away from this conference?

Dn. David: I think in the West and in the Western world, we’ve often separated art and music from our spiritual life. We may listen to certain types of music during the week that may not be very wholesome or good or edifying for us, and certainly don’t nourish us in many ways. In our culture that’s considered normal to do that during the weekdays, and then on Sunday, if you are religious you will go to church or whatever religious group you’re affiliated with, and you’ll listen to music that’s supposed to remind you of the divine, of the heavenly, maybe of your calling in life as a person. So the same has occurred with arts, where, whether it’s the movies we watch or the artist that we admire, painting and otherwise, we tend to appreciate the things outside of our religious experience,  and separate art from religion.

Whereas in the Orthodox Church, that’s simply not possible. One can’t separate the Church from the iconography and the hymns of the Church. That spiritual experience of art, of music in the Church is something that we want to bring back into people’s lives and help them to experience and to realize that God has created all things. He has created the mind of man, and from the mind of man spring this art and music. So, in communion with God, we can work together to create truly beautiful and edifying and wondrous works, whether music or art. We want to bring that realization, bring that sense of closeness back to those who attend.

Mr. Maddex: And where can our listeners go to get more information about the conference. Is there a website they can look at?

Dn. David: There is. If they go to www.saintjonah.org, and “saintjonah” is all spelled out: S-A-I-N-T-J-O-N-A-H, saintjonah.org, there on the front page they can click on a banner which is located to the right which advertizes the event. It’ll be titled “Sacred Art, Sacred Music.” There’s an icon of Mary with Christ, and if they click on that banner, it’ll take them to the page on our website which is all about the event. From there they can download the full brochure, which includes all of the scheduled presentations, information about the guest speakers. They can also click to go to the Facebook page, and on the Facebook page one can RSVP and see other people who are attending. Of course, you can also invite friends and share the page, so we do really encourage people to visit the Facebook page as well.

Again, from saintjonah.org, you can get to a page all about this, and you can also get to the Facebook. And if you’re on Facebook, you can search for “Sacred Art, Sacred Music.” The event is public, so it should appear in the search results, and you can go from there and RSVP or share the event. We do ask that everyone who can would please share the event and invite friends, because even if you can’t attend, just by spreading the word it creates a credibility and an awareness for the event, but people that you invite may be able to attend even if you can’t, so that would be very helpful to us. And it doesn’t cost us anything, or the person who does it anything.

Mr. Maddex: Very good. Is there anything else you’d like to add before we sign off here today?

Dn. David: Not anything in particular. I believe that for those who maybe have come to the event before or have heard of our icon exhibit before, I just want to stress that what we are doing this year is very special and unique and is more than what we’ve done before, so even if one has been to the icon exhibit in the past, I would really encourage them to come. The guest speakers that we have are coming from out of town from far away. They are both very knowledgeable and renowned in the fields from which they provide their knowledge, so I would recommend that everyone come if they’re able to, and spread the word about the event.

Mr. Maddex: Thanks so much for joining me today, Dn. David. I look forward to meeting you in person in just about a month from now.

Dn. David: Yes, I’m looking forward to having Ancient Faith there. You provide a great service to the Orthodox community, and we are very grateful for this opportunity to welcome your listeners to our church.

Mr. Maddex: Again, I’ve been speaking with Dn. David Companik, the spokesman for the upcoming conference titled Sacred Art, Sacred Music, which will be held this coming March 1-3 at St. Jonah Orthodox Church in Spring, Texas. I’m Bobby Maddex, and this has been a listener-supported presentation of Ancient Faith Radio, on the web at ancientfaith.com.