The ISM Study Tour to Greece and Turkey
Introduction by Marilyn Kendrix
Benjamin Straley: Reaching Heavenward
Olivia Hillmer: New Wines into Old Bottles
Caleb Bennetch: It's Really about Hospitality
Marilyn Kendrix: A Search for God over the Millennia
One of the privileges of being an ISM student is that every two years, there is an international study tour. This tradition, begun by director John Cook in the 80s and continued by Margot Fassler, has taken the Institute to England, France, Scandinavia, Mexico, the Balkans, Germany, and more.
This year, we travelled to Greece and Turkey for two weeks. Beginning with a concert in Athens by Yale Schola Cantorum, we explored this great city, headed to Hosias Loukas and Delphi, followed by two days in Meteora/Kalambaka, and then on to Thessaloniki. The trip ended with four days in Istanbul.
Our preparations are every bit as important as the actual travel in this integrated learning experience; therefore, the Institute sponsors a host of activities toward this end, such as new courses, guest lectures, concerts, excursions to related venues in nearby Boston or New York, and a significant portion of our annual Colloquium. Without fail, students and faculty have named these trips life changing experiences, and we wish to share some of this energy and enthusiasm with you.
You can imagine that it takes a village to put together such a complicated experience, but it’s also easy to single out a few people to thank especially: our own staff, particularly Kristen Forman and Andrea Hart; and faculty, especially Prof. Vasileios Marinis. And most especially we are grateful to our chief guide and tour architect: Fr. Stefanos Alexopoulos from Athens, the guest faculty member who introduced us to so many amazing people and places. Profound thanks are due especially to him.
Below are some personal reflections from representative music and divinity students in the ISM. They bear witness to the intellectual, aesthetic, emotional, and spiritual impact this study trip has on our community. Also, you can leaf through the Facebook tour album. Coming soon, to both Facebook and the ISM website, is a short video, and more photo albums and commentary will be linked from the ISM homepage to show in greater detail the actual educational content at the core of this extraordinary experience.
From Past to Present, From West to East
Student Impressions from the Study Tour to Greece and Turkey
Compiled and edited by Marilyn kendrix, MDiv '13
Amid icons and organs, chanting and mosaics, divine liturgy and evangelical exhortations, the Institute of Sacred Music lived up to its interdisciplinary mission during this spring’s study trip to Greece and Turkey. During the last two years of study, I have sometimes found that it is a challenge to explain to people outside of the ISM community exactly what it is that the ISM does, and yet this study tour provided the experience of living into the intersection of sacred music, sacred art, and liturgy that is at the heart of the ISM mission.
Traveling from the Acropolis in Athens, where the ancients built their temple to the goddess Athena, to the mountaintop monasteries clinging to the rocks at Meteora, where Christians sought God among the clouds, to the floating dome of the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul, this year’s tour provided a richness of visual experience that was only equaled by the amazing sounds of the tour. Yale’s Schola Cantorum’s concert at St. George’s Parish in Athens provided the community at Halandri with an experience of western sacred music that was the perfect counterpoint to the gift that we received listening to the chanting of Byzantine choirs singing in small spaces with high domed ceilings. I close my eyes and I can still see the richly decorated churches, hear the deep tones of the chanting with its constant drone, smell the spices in the market. I know each student came away with a unique set of impressions that will live in our memories for years to come. Here are just a few.
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