THE SAINT TIKHON CHOIR
Founded with a mission to foster and build up the American Orthodox choral tradition at the highest artistic level, The Saint Tikhon Choir has been steadily breaking new ground since its inception in 2015. It is the first professional vocal ensemble connected with an Orthodox monastery in America. Its début recording, Till Morn Eternal Breaks: Sacred Choral Music of Benedict Sheehan (2015), was heralded as “delicate and subtle… at other times powerful and opulent… [a] cause for joy and hope” (Orthodox Arts Journal). In 2018, the Saint Tikhon Choir took part in a monumental world premiere of Alexander Kastalsky’s Requiem for Fallen Brothers (1917) at the Washington National Cathedral, performing in collaboration with the Clarion Choir, the Kansas City Chorale, the Cathedral Choral Society, and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s under the baton of Leonard Slatkin. The project was heralded as one of the “Top Ten Performances of 2018” (Washington Classical Review) and “an unforgettable performance” (Washington Post). A recording of this historic project was released in 2020 on the Naxos label and is being hailed as “essential listening” (AllMusic) and “tremendously dignified” (MusicWeb International). Benedict Sheehan’s Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, coming out in October of 2020 on the Cappella Romana label, will be the Saint Tikhon Choir’s third recording.
Described as “an up-and-coming conductor” (The Oregonian), “a rising star in the choral world” (Catholic Sentinel), and as having “set the bar for Orthodox liturgical music in the English-speaking world” (Orthodox Arts Journal), composer and conductor Benedict Sheehan is Director of Music at St. Tikhon’s Seminary and Monastery in Pennsylvania, Artistic Director of professional vocal ensemble The Saint Tikhon Choir, and CEO and co-founder of the Artefact Institute, a collective of “culture creators.” Working closely with his wife Talia Maria Sheehan, a professional vocalist and visionary music educator, the Sheehans have become two of the most sought-after clinicians in Orthodox sacred music in America. Benedict has appeared frequently as a guest conductor with the professional vocal ensemble Cappella Romana, where his performances of Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil had one reviewer so “emotionally overwhelmed” that she was “attempting to hold back tears” (Oregon ArtsWatch). In 2018 he was instrumental in producing the monumental world premiere of Alexander Kastalsky’s Requiem for Fallen Brothers (1917) at the Washington National Cathedral. The project culminated in a 2020 Naxos recording on which Sheehan served as a Chorus Master and an Executive Producer. Benedict is in high demand as a composer. His works have been performed by the Grammy-nominated Skylark Vocal Ensemble, the Grammy-nominated PaTRAM Institute Singers, Cappella Romana, the William Jewell Choral Scholars, Te Deum, the Pacific Youth Choir, and many others. His new work Gabriel’s Message was recorded and released in 2020 by John Rutter, Bob Chilcott, and The Oxford Choir. Skylark’s recent recording Once Upon A Time (2020) features a “story score” by Benedict which has been called “evocative” (Gramophone), “quite extraordinary” (Limelight), “brilliant” (MetroWest Daily News), and “otherworldly” (Boston Musical Intelligencer). His music is published by Oxford University Press, Artefact Publications, Musica Russica, MusicSpoke, and St. Tikhon’s Monastery Press. Benedict lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and seven daughters.
Saint Tikhon’s Monastery
Saint Tikhon’s is the oldest Orthodox Christian monastery in North America. Founded in 1905 by St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow, and dedicated to St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, the monastery has been home to five canonized saints of the Orthodox Church over the course of the last century. In 1938, monks from St. Tikhon’s founded St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, now a full-time graduate school just across the street from the monastery. Under the leadership of Archimandrite Sergius, who is well into his second decade as Abbot, the brotherhood of St. Tikhon’s remains a thriving monastic community today. The brothers maintain the daily cycle of services, which includes celebrating the Divine Liturgy every day. They also roast artisanal coffee, teach classes at the seminary, make beeswax candles, grow vegetables, care for a growing parish community (with nearly a hundred children), and pray for the entire world and everyone in it.