SVOTS announces new music, liturgics faculty

July 22, 2016

“Our goal is to prepare newly ordained priests for
the most challenging circumstances imaginable, and those
certainly would include liturgically challenging
situations,” remarked Archpriest Dr. John Behr, Dean
of Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox
Theological Seminary here. “That’s why
we’re restructuring our music and liturgics
courses for our Master of Divinity
students—because we’re finding they
sometimes end up in parishes with no deacon, no
chanter, no choir director, and perhaps even, no choir!

 


“To
meet such new challenges, the seminary has hired
Matushka Robin Freeman as its new Director of Music,
Harrison Russin as its new Lecturer in Liturgical
Music, and Archpriest Dr. Eric G. Tosi as its new
Assistant Professor of Liturgics,” Father John
added. “All three will begin teaching at the
start of the fall semester on August 29, 2016.”

A conductor and singer, Matushka Robin holds a Bachelors
of Music in Voice Performance from Gordon College and a
Masters of Music in Choral Conducting from Indiana
University. She has worked with a wide range of choirs,
including professional chamber choirs, church choirs,
children’s choirs, community choirs, college choirs,
and opera choruses. As a singer, she has travelled across
North America, Europe and Asia performing a wide variety
of repertoire that includes opera, chamber music, and
jazz.

Matushka Robin joined the seminary’s faculty in 2012
as Lecturer in Liturgical Music, teaching courses in
beginning and advanced conducting. She conducted the Saint
Vladimir’s Seminary Chorale in three concert
programs, two of which were presented in New York City.
Under her direction, the Chorale also released two
recordings with Saint Vladimir’s Seminary
Press.

In addition to her work with the choirs of Saint
Vladimir’s Seminary, she was engaged by the
Princeton Festival, a multi-dimensional performing arts
summer festival, for several seasons as Chorus Master,
Assistant Conductor, and Assistant to the Artistic and
General Director. In 2015, she served as the Chorus Master
for the Festival’s production of Mozart’s
Le Nozze di Figaro. She also has also served as
the Director of Music at Holy Trinity Church, Yonkers, NY.

“I consider it a joy and a privilege to be a member
of the music faculty at Saint Vladimir’s, which has
a long and well-known history of musical
excellence,” said Matushka Robin. “I want our
ordained graduates to have the confidence to sing the
liturgical services alone if necessary, and I want them to
be competent enough to organize the music and to direct,
for example, a small, struggling choir at a Vespers
service — feedback from our alumni indicates they
often face such circumstances in both mission and
established parishes.”

 

Harrison RussinHarrison Russin
While
acting as Lecturer in Liturgical Music as a
Dean’s Fellow, Harrison Russin also will be
completing his Ph.D. in Musicology at Duke University.
“Although my doctoral dissertation is typically
academic — it’s titled ‘The
Polyphonic Credo, 1350–1500’ — my new
assignment at the seminary will be hands-on and will
deal with the nitty-gritty basics of liturgical choral
singing,” he said. “I’ll be teaching
one skills course per week and other musicology courses
as my part-time ‘Dean’s Fellowship’
position allows, and I’ll be rehearsing the male
choir weekly, as well as directing them both in our
Chapel and on parish visitations. I’ll also
direct other choral ensembles when necessary.”

Harrison was Saint Vladimir’s Seminary’s Class
of 2013 Valedictorian. He earned his Bachelors of Arts in
Music at Swarthmore College in 2009, and is the recipient
of several scholarly awards, including the J. Fletcher
Graduate Fellowship in Music from Duke University in 2015
and “The Promise of the Vatican Library,” a
travel grant for Junior Scholars, from Notre Dame
University and the Vatican Library in 2016.

“I am honored to return to Saint Vladimir’s to
assist in musical ministry,” continued Mr. Russin.
“The Seminary has, since its founding, been a leader
in training church musicians and in publishing new and old
music for the Church, and I look forward to helping to
maintain the high standard that has already been
achieved.”

 

Fr. Eric TosiFr. Eric Tosi
Also
ensuring those high standards will be Father Eric Tosi,
1996 seminary alumnus and Secretary of the Orthodox
Church in America since 2008. Father Eric will be
training seminarians to celebrate the liturgical
services with dignity and grace and will be imparting
to them an understanding of the essential components of
the services.

Father Eric earned his Doctor of Ministry degree from
Trinity College at the University of Toronto, and his
doctoral thesis was titled “Koinonic Evangelism: A
Case Study of the Theology and Practice of Evangelism in
Three Parishes of the Orthodox Church in America.”
He has had experience as a pastor at Saint Nicholas of
South Canaan Church, Billings, MT and Saint Paul the
Apostle Church, Las Vegas, NV. Since 2013 he also has been
the manager of the OCA’s Parish Mentorship
Program at the seminary, which places senior
seminarians under the mentorship of seasoned priests in
local parishes.

“I am so very pleased to be joining the faculty of
Saint Vladimir’s Seminary on a more permanent
basis,” Father Eric remarked. “To be appointed
to this position and to continue to train future clergy,
following the footsteps of the great teachers who have
taught here…well, this is an honor. I pray we
faculty build upon their foundations and continue to
provide the Church with quality leaders and clergy.”

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