Tracey Edson, Choir Director
Tracey Edson has been leading the St. Nicholas choir since 1996. “When singing and directing liturgical music, it’s as if I’m accompanying the rhythmic pulse of creation and helping others do what we were created to do: give thanks and praise to God.” When he’s not in church, he teaches and plays piano at the University of Portland. You may also find him leading musical performances for the Community Music Center, where he directs a mixed non-auditioned chorus.
At St. Nicholas Church, the choir is a key element of our life. Because in Orthodox worship everything is sung, singing is a cornerstone of our liturgical experience. Our heritage lies in the Russian style of liturgy whose music adopted a choral format in the 18th century. This music grew out of the music of the Czar’s court chapel in St. Petersburg, and still forms a basic framework of what we sing here at St. Nicholas.
Our parish is over a century old, and there has always been some kind of choir. The choir is mixed, meaning that it includes men and women singing in Western four-part harmony. There is no audition, but a person wishing to join must be able to sing and be willing to receive instruction and attend regular rehearsals.
Over the years, we have expanded our repertoire to include plainchant, which is a single melodic line from a traditional body of Church chant. This includes Byzantine, medieval Russian znammeny, Carpathian, Galician, Serbian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Arab and Georgian melodies. We also include newly composed music written here in America, some even written especially for our parish.
It’s important to note that the choir’s chief task is to lead the gathered assembly in voicing its prayer and praise. In reality, the entire congregation is the choir when we are together.
— Tracey Edson