Artistic and Cultural Events in the Orthodox Church

Artistic and Cultural Events in the Orthodox Church


Welcome to “This Week in Orthodoxy,” the world’s only online video newscast focused on events in the life of the Orthodox Church.

Segment 1: News from around the Globe

Film Screening at Halki Seminary
This week, we’ll look at some artistic and cultural events happening around the world. First up is Halki Seminary on Istanbul’s island of Heybeliada, which held its very first film screening on April 27.

Members of various religious communities, film producers, and the press gathered to watch and discuss Palestinian director Robert Savo’s new film “The Savior,” based on the Gospel of Luke and shot in Jordan and Bulgaria with mostly Jordanian Muslim actors.

Metropolitan Elpidophoros Lambriniadis, who oversees the monastic community still active at Halki, as well as the cultural activities that occasionally take place there, told the press that the school is in continuous dialog with the Islamic world.

Savo’s film advances this dialogue, as it is about the life of Jesus and yet reflects the cultural realities and peoples of the Middle East, past and present.

At a press statement before the film screening, Metropolitan Elpidophoros said Halki Seminary has slowly begun to open since being forcibly closed. He said the seminary does not yet have authority to open as a school, but it has been able to host educational and cultural events.

“Halki Seminary is already active as a monastery,” he said. “Its library is open; it is open to congresses, music or other cultural events. This film is a very good one. The people acting in the film are all Palestinian Muslims. They made the life of Jesus Christ a film, and they wanted to present it to us here. Of course we opened our doors, and it has made us very pleased.”

Arvo Pärt Project to Hold Series of Concerts and Events
The Arvo Pärt Project at St. Vladimir’s Seminary is preparing to host a series of high-profile concerts and cultural events in May and June.

Arvo Pärt, who is the most performed classical and choral composer in the world today, and the winner of numerous awards, including a recent Grammy, is a convert to Orthodox Christianity from Estonia whose faith plays a large role in his compositions.

When a young Ph.D. student writing a dissertation on Pärt’s music asked him to explain his musical inspiration and unique style, Pärt handed the student a copy of Saint Silouan the Athonite, a modern classic on Orthodox Christian spirituality, and said: “If you want to understand my music, read this.”

The Arvo Pärt Project has organized a series of events in the United States, starting on May 27. Traveling from Estonia for these events are the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra with their conductor Tõnu Kaljuste.

During the tour of the United States, the ensembles will perform repertoire specifically selected by Mr. Pärt himself in collaboration with faculty at St. Vladimir’s Seminary. And the composer will be in attendance.

The series begins with a concert sponsored by the Estonian Embassy at the John F. Kennedy Centre on May 27.

The next day, May 28, there will be a panel discussion at George Washington University, featuring Orthodox theologian Peter Bouteneff and music faculty from the university.

On May 29, there will be a special performance of Pärt’s music at The Phillips Collection, a museum of modern art in Washington, D.C.

On May 31, there will be a major concert at Carnegie Hall at New York City, presented by St. Vladimir’s Seminary.

And on June 2, there will be a final concert in New York sponsored by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

For more information, including tickets where still available, visit

If you’re interesting in finding out more about Mr. Pärt, including his modernist musical influences and his spiritual development, there are many resources online. A particularly striking one is a one-hour documentary, originally produced in 1990, called “And Then Came the Evening and the Morning.” It’s a striking, somewhat avant-garde portrait of the composer and his Estonian context right after the fall of communism. The documentary is available on YouTube with English subtitles.

That’s it for “This Week in Orthodoxy.” Let us know if you enjoyed watching. See you next week!

Posted by the Orthodox Christian Network.  You can find the Orthodox Christian Network on Google+.

About author

Seraphim Danckaert

Seraphim Danckaert is Director of Mission Advancement at St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary. He holds an M.Div. from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology and is a Ph.D. candidate in theology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.