“Blessed Art Thou among Women” Debuts On the Billboard Charts

This week, “Blessed Art Thou among Women”, the latest CD from PaTRAM Institute™ debuted at #7 on the Billboard charts!

PaTRAM new CD Blessed are Thou Among Women - Coming Soon!

The Billboard charts tabulate the relative weekly popularity of songs and albums in the United States and elsewhere. The results are published in Billboard magazine.

In addition to this, the PaTRAM™ YouTube channel has had favorable reactions to this new CD, too, including:

Viola Bear

There is literally nothing on earth like this extremely rare choir. I am a retired cathedral choirmaster, organist, composer, teacher and violist. I have dreamed all my life to hear such a choir.  I am so proud of this group and proud of their work. Blessings and long life from a humble musician here in California, USA.

Poor Man’s Vlog

Been listening to this for hours. I am now a saint.

PaTRAM Institute is very thankful to our listeners and subscribers for their help in making this CD yet another critically acclaimed success.

PaTRAM™ Institute’s Grammy Nominated Composer Featured in The Northerner

In anticipation of the recent 2020 Grammy Awards Ceremony, composer Kurt Sander was featured in an article published by The Northerner last week. Kurt Sander received a Grammy nomination for The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, PaTRAM Institute’s recent CD which featured his original English language compositions. This recording earned much critical acclaim in 2019 after its release, rising to #1 on Amazon, claiming a #11 spot on the Billboard Charts for Traditional Classical Albums, and ultimately receiving a Grammy nomination for Best Choral Performance.

Click here to read Composer Kurt Sander’s feature in The Northerner.

To read more about the 2020 Grammy Awards Ceremony, check out our last blog post.

 

PaTRAM™ Institute’s Grammy Nominated Conductor Profiled in the Chicago Tribune

Maestro Peter Jermihov, the conductor on PaTRAM Institute’s latest CD, The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, was recently profiled in the Chicago Tribune ahead of Sunday’s Grammy Awards Ceremony. The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is up for a Grammy award in the category of Best Choral Performance. The CD was a critical success upon its release, spending many weeks at the top of the charts on Amazon and eventually rising to #11 on the Billboard Charts for Traditional Classical Album. This is the first Grammy nomination for Maestro Jermihov, composer, Kurt Sander, and the PaTRAM Institute Singers™. It is the second consecutive Grammy nomination for a CD released by PaTRAM Institute.

Click here to read Maestro Jermihov’s profile in the Chicago Tribune.

Be sure to tune in to the Grammy Awards this Sunday, January 26th, to watch the awards presentation! The entire awards show will be streamed online via CBS All Access.

It is Truly Meet to Bless Thee, the Theotokos

Достойно есть блажити Тя, Богородицу (По русски)

Dmitry Anokhin

Translation by Gregory W. Levitsky

INTERNATIONAL MALE CHOIR RECORDS CD OF ORTHODOX HYMNS TO THE MOST IMMACULATE LADY

The visit of the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God “of the Sign” to Saratov, Russia, was accompanied by a unique musical project, which brought together singers from five countries. During the Dormition Fast, a combined male choir under the direction of Vladimir Gorbik, conductor at Holy Trinity Representation Church in Moscow, recorded a CD of hymns, entitled “More Honorable than the Cherubim,” in Saratov’s St. Nicholas Monastery. On August 22, the choir performed a large solo concert, which sold out the L.B. Sobinov Conservatory. A reporter from The Journal of the Moscow Patriarchy found out what comes next, how millionaires and doctors from the U.S. wound up in the combined choir, and what the overseas visitors did while in Saratov. PDF-version (Russian)

Day One – The Drummer’s Fate

It is the after-feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord at St. John the Theologian House Church at the Saratov Seminary. Outside, the warm August weather pours across the Volga region, while indoors, the atmosphere is heating up under the demanding gaze of conductor Vladimir Gorbik. To his right and a little ways back sits his chief assistant in this project: Katherine Lukianov, also a professional conductor, who over the course of her years serving in the U.S. has fostered three church choir groups, who now sing competently and independently. Recently, Katherine has been focused on the work of the Patriarch Tikhon Russian American Music (PaTRAM™) Institute. She worked as the non-profit’s executive director immediately after its creation, and now occupies herself with its development and repertoire. It is namely Katherine who is able to navigate the plentiful palette of choral concerts dedicated to the Theotokos, who arranged for such a large contingent of singers, and who selected the hymns for the future CD. Now, she works at providing simultaneous translations of the conductor’s directions into English. Otherwise, the work would all be for naught: joining thirty-six singers from Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Saratov on the banks of the Volga were a dozen from the U.S., three each from Serbia and Australia, and two Canadians.

Their group is not only highly selective: you could say it was run through the narrowest sieve of exacting requirements and conditions. One non-negotiable condition – not even to be included in the project, but to have one’s application considered – was individually covering one’s part over Skype. Everyone who passed this selection stage not only received all of the score pieces in the mail (this being the program of a large concert in two parts – around an hour and a half of singing), but also audio files with tracks to learn the voice parts. The pride and genuine treasure of such scrupulous preparation were the dozen bass-octavists, stunning with their soft velvet low notes, which captivated both the audience members in every conceivable and inconceivable spot in the hall of the Saratov Conservatory, and the small number of observers of their rehearsals. “Five of them have a working ‘fa,’ three – a contra-octave ‘re,’” acknowledges the author of these lines, Vladimir Gorbik. “What’s more, two of them only discovered this during recording!”

Such a wealth of performance talent, with the broadest spectrum of ranges (the demanding audience could be certain that the first tenors could confidently and effortlessly hit “re” on the second octave, to say nothing of rigorously maintaining their singing posture) afforded the opportunity for freedom in compiling the project’s repertoire. Of course, church composers (both of bygone eras as well as our contemporaries) write less for male choirs than for mixed. Like it or not, such a large-scale project could not be undertaken without a talented arrangement. Gorbik entrusted this work to his student in the choir of Holy Trinity Representation Church, Andrei Chervyakov. Eleven scores underwent his scrutiny. And in each case, this work was done one at a time, in the sense that the arrangements and rearrangements for each section of the choir were compiled for a specific collection of singers. Moreover, the musical texture of the scores for virtually the entire program was presented not in classical fours, but in five-voice part-based arrangements (for the parts of first and second tenors, baritones, first basses and second bass-octavists). This, in turn, gave the musicians the opportunity to seek and find “diamonds” scattered throughout the scores – for instance, the stunning voice leading of the second basses in the chorus of the Song of the Theotokos “My Soul doth Magnify the Lord” from Rachmaninoff’s “All-Night Vigil.”

Sitting in the first row is one of the trio of bassi profondi – Alexis Lukianov. Katherine Lukianov’s husband, an American millionaire, he has worked for over thirty-five years in management in the field of advanced medical technology. Alexis also “moonlights” as the general director and chairman of the board of directors of the Patriarch Tikhon Russian American Music Institute. “Observing the evolution of church singing in the parishes of North America, I came to the unfortunate and distressing conclusion that it is slowly but surely degrading. The sound of parish choirs grows faint and faded, which hardly lends itself either to bestowing a festal character on the divine services, or to the mission of Orthodoxy. Aside from this, we would like to see our singers singing prayerfully and far more spiritually,” explains Lukianov. “My dream was this: if my business were a success, then I would commit one-tenth of the profits to a systematic correction of the situation. Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, gave his blessing for this undertaking. My business flourished, and we started off with courses for choir directors and singers – we conducted about thirty of these across North America. We first considered recording a CD when it became clear that our choir members needed some example, an ideal, toward which they could strive in their daily service. Thus arose first the male choir, and then the mixed, now known as the PaTRAM Institute Singers. Now it has become clear: if we do not explain the importance of our work to the clergy, then we will continue just spinning our wheels. Thus, working for the future, we decided to organize master classes in church singing for the seminarians in Jordanville.”

It is worth adding to this that Alexis’ breadth is not limited to business and church singing. He began as an amateur musician, a drummer. Nine years ago, he produced Broadway shows, one of which – “Memphis” – even won a Tony Award (the theatrical equivalent of the “Oscars” for movies).

Day Two – Nomination for a GRAMMY

Lukianov finances the work of the PaTRAM Institute independently. But in Saratov in 2019, he was able to cover only nine-tenths of the expenses. With uniquely American determination and drive to succeed, in order to make up the difference, he invited aboard two companions – Greg and Brian. Among the American contingent of guests, they were the only two who were not directly involved in the musical aspect of the project.

During the program’s run at the Saratov Conservatory, Greg and Brian tactfully recorded the goings-on on their phones, photographed the rehearsals, and exchanged whispered impressions, which this trip gave them in abundance. Greg, a Catholic by faith, came to Saratov with his wife. The pair was enchanted by the expansive Volga landscape, the Russian hospitality, and the beautiful sound of the ideally selected male choir. Brian is areligious, and came to faraway Russia, where bears walk right down the streets, with his entire family. He recalled how his relatives even teared up as they were leaving. And you could not be sure if he were joking or being entirely serious.

Why did Greg and Brian answer Lukianov’s call? The latter certainly had a trump card: the previous album of PaTRAM’s international male choir, also recorded in Saratov, three years earlier. Featuring a collection of Pavel Chesnokov’s compositions and entitled “Teach Me Thy Statutes,” it caused a furor in the U.S.: the authoritative musical review site MusicWeb International officially recognized the CD as its 2018 Recording of the Year. And this year, it was nominated for a GRAMMY in the field of “Best Choral Performance.”

Yet another American not in the singing contingent is instead fully immersed in the arrangement of notes. This is Blanton Alspaugh — a sound engineer for one of the best American recording studios, Sound Mirror, in Boston. And while the CD recorded three years ago in Saratov was a hair’s breadth from winning the most prestigious American music award, Blanton himself did win, as producer of the “Teach Me Thy Statutes” CD. This is either his 10th or 11th award – he says even he doesn’t remember.

The concert itself, which took place on a stuffy Saratov evening, began with a seriously threatening attempt to take down the doors to the Conservatory’s concert hall. One of the best acoustically outfitted concert halls in provincial Russia (it is no coincidence that, just before the start of the First World War, this educational institution was opened personally by Emperor Nicholas II), it had not seen an audience like this in ages! The audience, who literally fought their way into the hall, was ready to stand in the aisles. Meanwhile, the Most Holy Theotokos reigned up on stage: Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan had brought the wonderworking Kursk Root Icon to Saratov, and triumphantly accompanied it to the hall for the beginning of the concert.

“We have done nine-tenths of the work,” Gorbik announced to reporters before the performance began, referring to the project’s main goal: recording a new album. But it is likely that even the most exacting audience member at the concert – which lasted for two hours with no intermission – would be hard-pressed to name any particular shortcoming that could qualify for that missing 10%. The exact precision of the framing and the impressive nuance stunned the audience, and held their rapt attention for the entire evening. There was not even the slightest foreign accent in their pronunciation! And the auditorium fell in love with the inimitable baritone of soloist Michael Davidov.

Day Three – Breaking Boundaries

Gorbik is terrifying in his wrath. The style of his work can be outwardly described as tender authoritarianism; he himself likes to speak of the carrot and the stick. There is no other way to handle such a large artistic group, gathered from various countries and comprised of musicians representing various vocal techniques.

“The concert does not just sap energy – certainly, it also adds fuel. Any musician knows this,” admits Maestro Gorbik, who has three conservatory degrees (in Composition and Symphonic and Choral Conducting). “Feeling that more could be accomplished with the group collectively, I saw this goal and began to demand of them total dedication. I am very grateful to all of the singers: they heard me and understood me correctly. We have one American singing in the choir, Victor, a neurologist by trade. We had crossed paths earlier in the overseas master classes. After completing the recording, I approached everyone who had been on the receiving end of my ire and asked them not to take offense. And Victor admitted that such a professional approach had, of course, been stressful for him, but extremely helpful.”

But what then of the “report” of only nine-tenths of the work being done?! “I meant what I said,” parries Vladimir Alexandrovich. “But as a result, the choir gave not 100%, but 180% for the recording.”

After the project’s completion, Vladimir Gorbik did not fly home, but to New York City, where he was awaited by the Capital Symphony Orchestra. This young group, founded by Gorbik, is only two years old, and is comprised of two sections – Russian and American. On October 30, it will be holding a concert [in America], under the symbolic header, “Breaking Boundaries.”

Alexis Lukianov also has not tired of breaking boundaries. For next year, he has already planned a new international project – a concert of choral compositions of spiritual music, in which the connecting role of the conductor and the reader will be performed simultaneously by national artist of Russia Evgeny Mironov, who has already agreed to the part. Alexis intends for all of the profits from the project to benefit one of the largest benevolent foundations in Russia, one which helps handicapped children. For the year after that, he wants to carry out the same program on some of the most prestigious stages in Russia, China, Great Britain, and the U.S.

Metropolitan Longin of Saratov & Volsk: “The tradition of receiving yesterday’s schoolchildren into seminary is becoming obsolete.”

The head of the Saratov Metropolitanate speaks about why he took the international Orthodox choral project under his wing, what he feels when he remembers the 1990s, and under what conditions it would be possible to resurrect the old diocesan cathedral on the current site of the “Dynamo” Stadium. PDF-version (Russian)

It took an entire year to prepare for the arrival of the Kursk Root Icon.

— Your Eminence, the performance of the international combined male choir under the direction of Vladimir Gorbik in Saratov was accompanied by the visitation to your diocese of the wonderworking Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God “of the Sign.” The choir greeted this sacred icon in Saratov’s Holy Virgin Protection Church, and then sang at Divine Liturgy. How significant are these festive events for the entire Metropolitanate and for Saratov?

— The visitation of any holy object to our diocese is always very important, and stirs the faithful of Saratov. The thing is that the Lower and Central Volga regions are relatively young as Russian lands. Unlike ancient Russian cities, Saratov cannot boast of a centuries-old history of Orthodoxy, overflowing with examples of saintly God-pleasers. We do not have the same number of saints and holy icons and relics as, for example, another Volga city like Yaroslavl. Therefore, any encounter with a wonderworking icon visiting from afar is especially meaningful for the flock. All the more so, since we are speaking of one of the principal holy icons of the Russian Diaspora, whose history reaches back over seven centuries. As we know, the Kursk Root Icon takes part annually in the revived historic procession in the Kursk Metropolitanate to the Kursk Root Hermitage, and then visits one additional diocese in Russia. We prepared for over a year to greet the icon.

— The project under the direction of Maestro Gorbik has a backstory, and it was here, in Saratov, that three years ago the same group recorded its first double album of Orthodox hymnography. What is behind this mutual fondness between the choir and your diocese?

— Vladimir Alexandrovich is a person dear to me, even very close. He began his work as a choir director when he was still a student at the Moscow State Conservatory, at the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra Representation Church in Moscow, where I was rector at that time. And we formed a truly fruitful team. I was not just his boss – for a while, he also confessed to me. When he finished the conservatory with honors and received various job offers, he came to me for advice in choosing his career path. I told him that I saw him as a choir director. You see, for a professional musician, even one who is a sincere believer, obedience in the choir, with rare exception, remains off to the side, a secondary activity. What then could one expect of a young man who just recently came to the Church! Nevertheless, after giving it some thought, he agreed with me, and was not afraid to reject a secular musical career.

In 2003, I took up the See of Saratov, but we did not stop corresponding. And the choir at the Holy Trinity Metochion was highly appreciated by Orthodox Americans who went to Russia on pilgrimage. They especially liked the combination of utmost professionalism with a firm grounding in the tradition of Lavra singing, which Gorbik inherited from Archimandrite Matthew (Mormyl). At first, they invited Vladimir to the U.S. for the master classes. Later, a combined male choir was formed. With the support of wealthy Orthodox Americans who were not afraid to invest their own money in the project, the Patriarch Tikhon Russian American Music Institute was founded, which has as its goal the elevation of church singing in the U.S. parishes. It was this organization that proposed the idea of recording CDs with choral compositions selected from the treasury of Russian church music, which themselves could become missionary Orthodox projects in the West. Three years ago, the first album with works by Pavel Chesnokov was successfully recorded in Saratov. This time, hymns were chosen in honor of the Mother of God. In addition to the recording and the divine services, there was also a concert in the Saratov State Conservatory, at which the Kursk Root Icon was present.

— Vladyka, you served as rector of Holy Trinity Representation Church in Moscow for almost eleven years. That time was a difficult one for the country and for Russian society. What do you remember from that period most of all?

— Human memory is selective, and generally retains mostly good memories. But these were truly difficult times. At the very moment when I was appointed rector, the so-called Abkhaz-Georgian conflict erupted in my adopted homeland of Sukhumi. My mother was evacuated to Sochi on a military transport under fire from the beach. The Representation Church in Moscow did not exist at that time as we understand it today: its territory was a large landfill. We gradually succeeded in returning the remaining buildings and part of the former grounds to the Church.

The nineties are often characterized as a time of collapse. This is accurate. But at the same time, this decade was a period of unheard-of ascent for the Church. Our generation was lucky to have begun our service and grown in it during these years. A multitude of good, open, sincere people came to the Church – enthusiasts in the highest sense of the word. They returned to the Church as if they were returning home, which was unbelievably inspiring. That was a time of sacrifice of the kind we rarely see today.

A night-time education at the theological schools

— You have led the See of Saratov of sixteen years. How would you characterize the general trends of your service here?

— In day-to-day affairs, I try to develop Church life in all of its spheres: building churches, engaging in Orthodox education and formation. Several monasteries have been restored, several have been built from scratch and opened. If I had to highlight one of the completed undertakings, it would be the seminary I head. Of course, we have more left to do. For instance, Holy Transfiguration Monastery, which before the revolution was one of the most renowned in the Central Volga region, is still awaiting real restoration work. But the most important thing in Church life is the people: the pastors and the flock. Therefore, my first concern is for them.

— Five years ago, the Saratov Seminary obtained both a well-adorned building on Michurin Street, and the beautiful St. John the Theologian House Church. In one of the latest Church-wide rankings, this educational institution soared to the uppermost rungs. What is the secret of these impressive results?

— It is my deep conviction that the main administrative task of the ruling bishop is to select faithful personnel and place them appropriately. Every key position must be occupied by someone who is capable of accomplishing the tasks set before him with maximum success. I do not recommend governing according to any other criteria, and I try not to even pay such criteria any mind. Of course, as ruling bishop, I cannot constantly delve into the everyday affairs of the seminary, and thus especially important are the qualifications of my assistants – provosts, inspectors, and course professors.

— How was your 2019 recruitment campaign? Are you satisfied with the quality of students you admitted? And what did the application “contest” require?

— We have not had a contest as such for a relatively long time. We accept virtually all who are willing, except, of course, outright “D students.” There are relatively many seminaries open now, so for the most part we teach local Saratov students. In itself, this is not bad; after all, before the revolution, the seminaries trained their own local personnel for service in their dioceses. But new students vary strikingly not only from applicants twenty years ago, but even ten years ago. This is connected to the fact that young people have practically stopped reading. If, at the beginning of the 2010s, I would ask an applicant what book he had recently read, now I have to ask what movies he has recently watched, what games he has played, what music he prefers. And we are not talking about boys coming in from the street – these are good, well-mannered, more or less churched young men!

I think that the practice of receiving high school graduates into seminary is becoming obsolete. Today’s seventeen to eighteen-year-olds still possess an unacceptable degree of infantilism. It is not so much that they lack motivation in life, but that they do not even think about it, with absolutely no appreciation for what it even is! Many of them are not prepared internally for the prospect of being ordained. Of course, five years of education in seminary does not leave you without some trace. Those who survive our education regimen are changed by the theological school. But a significant number drops out – in some years, this has been up to half of the students. I have absolutely no interest in quantities or statistical percentages! I consider it better to bid a timely farewell to someone who does not belong at the theological school, than to drag him to his diploma by means of whatever truths or fictions are needed, and then you don’t know if you should ordain him or what. If this current and unpleasant trend continues, we will have to seriously consider altering the principles of our work with student-seminarians.

However, in my view, the time has come to create the conditions for well-composed, family men to receive a quality seminary education. We understand that they cannot drop their families and jobs and come live with us in the dormitory. Of great value here is our correspondence department, which we have seen evolve over the past years. Traditionally, it was mainly clergy who studied this way. But now it is not so: there are not many such cases, but the number of ordinations among the correspondence students happens at no less a rate than among the general student population.

In my day, I happened to receive my university education by taking night classes. Clearly such a format could be useful in theological schools, as well, especially for seminaries located in big regional centers. If such a thing were to happen, students could receive a quality theological education, and the staff and administration would have a chance to see them as they developed, and not once or twice a year, as with the correspondence students. After all, the rector-bishop must know the candidates for ordination not merely by reputation or paperwork, but individually!

— Saratov State University is one of the best in the Volga region. Are there any opportunities for collaboration?

— Of course. From the very beginning, we had very honest, genial relationships with the former rector (now president) of the university, Leonid Kossovich, and with his successor, Alexey Chumachenko. Our professors teach courses in the Philosophy, Theology, and Religious Studies Departments, and the university professors help in our education process. We hold a large number of joint events. For instance, the Pimen Readings, dedicated to the memory of our department head in the Soviet era, Archbishop Pimen (Khmelevsky). The university students are very active on social media and recently started a Facebook group named “Orthodox Saratov.” The university church dedicated to the Holy Equals-of-the-Apostles Cyril & Methodius is a de facto parish, with parishioners worshipping there on Sundays and feast days. The community there is very strong and friendly, a lecture hall is available for the students, and meetings with interesting people are organized on weekdays.

“Program 20” – Preliminary Results

Holy Trinity Diocesan Cathedral, built in 1674, is not far from the banks of the Volga River, and is one of the landmarks of Saratov. It is considered the oldest building in the city, and is the first entry in the regional codex of cultural heritage sites, identified as a monument of federal significance. Does it accommodate all who wish to worship there, or is it, as the saying goes, “bursting at the seams”?

— No, it is not bursting at the seams; there is room inside for all who wish to pray there. On especially significant days, which are attended by guests from various cities and regions, we perform the festal divine services in the more capacious Holy Protection Church. But generally, the situation with the operational churches has righted itself: no longer are there instances where people are crushed or forced to pray on the street. When I came to this diocese, the new Saratov suburbs did not have a single church! Over the past two years, we have gotten nineteen up and running, with construction being completed on a twentieth. Our average capacity is 11,500 for each of our sixty-four parishes. This is an acceptable amount.

— What about the “new” Diocesan Cathedral of the Holy Right-Believing Alexander Nevsky, which our forebears built in memory of the victory over Napoleon? Is rebuilding it really unrealistic?

— Why, it’s entirely realistic! But the matter is complicated now, in that the “Dynamo” Stadium currently occupies that spot. And the situation with sports venues in Saratov is very lamentable, and we cannot eliminate one of the most accessible stadiums for our citizens. That is why a necessary precondition of restoring the historic St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral is the relocation of the “Dynamo” Stadium to another location in the city center. I hope that with time this plan will be realized, and we will see a restored “new” diocesan cathedral. This would be just and proper, as the remains of two of Saratov’s hierarchs – Bishops Abraamius (Letnitsky) and Euthymius (Belikov) – are buried below the racetrack at “Dynamo” Stadium.

— You have announced that one of the diocese’s tasks is to restore dilapidated and neglected prerevolutionary churches. Are you referring to architectural monuments in particular, or not only these?

— Virtually all such buildings have protected status, and for those that do not, we are currently launching the requisite registration process. So far, we are only approaching this task. There are about sixty such buildings in the Saratov Oblast, in our diocese – about forty. Some of them are able to host the divine services. In some places, nothing is left around the church – the villages died out. There are several examples of dying churches being restored either by the parishes themselves or by benefactors. Right now, we are trying to give a more coordinated character to this process. Let us say there is a large dilapidated cathedral in the village of Kutyino. Next door, they have opened a small, simple church, which entirely suffices for the performing of divine services for the small parish community. But the church was very beautiful, and on a diocesan level, of course, we ought to think about how to prevent its total loss.

— Eight years ago, answering a local reporter’s question about relations with the regional government, you answered, not without some subtle humor: “The only unfortunate thing is that issues relating to some problems or other in church life are resolved very slowly. The coefficient of useful action is often close to zero, but despite this, our relations remain good.” What about now?

— Thankfully, these problems stayed in the past. The key issues in our region are tackled with the help of the speaker of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, Vyacheslav Volodin, for which all citizens of Saratov are grateful to him. I think that, in this sense, the Orthodox faithful are no exception.

Project Participants Sound Off

Deacon Nicholas Kotar, choir director at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville (New York, U.S.):

— I do not have a musical education: I taught myself; I’ve been in the choir since childhood. The repertoire here was, of course, magnificent. Our singers, who are primarily used to the sound of non-professional choirs, could not have performed this music without preparation. The rearrangements were also complex: the tenors had very high notes.

Nektary Kotlaroff, student (Australia)

— In Sydney and Melbourne, I direct the Russian Orthodox Choir of Australia. We only have amateurs singing with us, and so this repertoire seemed a little complex for us. We know these composers by name, of course, but far from all of the compositions were familiar to us before we began this project.

© The Journal of the Moscow Patriarchy and Church Herald, 2007-2011

PaTRAM™ Returns From Successful Recording Trip in Saratov, Russia

The PaTRAM Institute Male Choir recently returned from Saratov, Russia, where they recorded the next CD to be released on the Reference Recording label, More Honorable Than the Cherubim. Release date is TBA for 2021.

The new CD is a compendium of hymns to the Theotokos, performed by a fifty-six member male choir. The choir was directed by Grammy nominated Maestro Vladimir Gorbik. The singers hailed from Russia, Serbia, North America, and Australia. Michael Davydov was the featured soloist and the choir featured an unprecedented ten oktavists! Click here to listen to the choir during rehearsal and see more of the gorgeous Nikolsky Monastery.

The first day of rehearsal began with a Moleben at the seminary church in Saratov. The Associate Producers also spent the day watching the choir rehearse. Later that evening, the Kursk Root Icon arrived in Saratov with Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan. The PaTRAM Institute Male Choir sang at the Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral to greet the Icon as it arrived. Click here to watch and hear our choir. There was then a Moleben and Akathist at the Cathedral in honor of the Kursk Root Icon. Click here to watch the service and listen to our choir!

On the second day of recording, the PaTRAM Institute Male Choir continued rehearsal at Nikolsky Monastery. While the choir rehearsed, our Associate Producers enjoyed an all-day tour of churches and other points of interest in Saratov.

Our third day of rehearsal on Thursday, August 22nd culminated with a press conference and concert at the Saratov Conservatory. It was an evening to remember! The concert set a record for attendance and included the governor and minister of culture. Bishop Nicholas, carrying the Kursk Root Icon and accompanied by Metropolitan Longin, led the procession into the standing room only auditorium. The hierarchs, and the 1,000+ people in attendance, then witnessed a riveting performance culminating with an encore and standing ovation.

Click here to check out an article about our trip to Saratov that was posted to the Saratov Minister of Culture website.

The next day, the choir then began the professional recording of the new CD with multi-GRAMMY Award-winning production company, Sound Mirror. PaTRAM partnered with Blanton Alspaugh and John Newton of Sound Mirror on our last two CDs, including the Grammy-nominated Teach Me Thy Statutes. It was wonderful to work with them again toward what we hope will be a world-class Disc which showcases the beauty of Russian choral music.

On Sunday the 25th, the PaTRAM Institute Male Choir sang during the Hierarchical service that was held at the Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral in the presence of the Kursk Root Icon. Metropolitan Longin acknowledged the group and awarded medals of the 1st order to Alexis and Katya Lukianov and Vladimir Gorbik; orders of the 2nd order to John Newton and Blanton Alspaugh of SoundMirror; 3rd order awards to Alex Milas, Tatiana Geringer, Natalia Prokopeca, and Andrei Zemtsov; and Gramotas to Andrei Chervikov, Leann Alspaugh, Oleg Guskov, and Michael Shoshin. Afterwards our group enjoyed a celebratory luncheon with Metropolitan Longin.

Click here to listen to the choir singing during the service.

From there, our group enjoyed a day of relaxation and fun on the Volga River. A boat ride took the group to a relaxing banya, dinner, ad hoc volleyball games, and swim in the beautiful Volga. It was a wonderful day and many new friendships were cemented!

On Monday, it was back to work for the final day of recording for the new CD. You can hear how fantastic the choir sounds by listening to these clips (here and here)! It was overall a very successful experience and we can’t wait to share the CD with you in the near future. PaTRAM was even featured on the local news in Saratov!

Following the final day of recording, many of the singers and support staff began to make their way back home, but some remained to celebrate the Feast of the Dormition. Eleven remaining members of the PaTRAM Institute Male Choir sang with the local choir during the Hierarchical Dormition vigil, which was celebrated by Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan with the Wonderworking Kursk Root icon at the Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral. While it was in Russia, more than 18,000 people came to venerate the Icon! We were blessed to have it traveling with us.

Alongside the tremendous effort of the choir, we also had our Associate Producers traveling with us as they enjoyed the Ultimate Russia Insider Experience! The Associate Producers arrived in Moscow a few days before the choir met in Saratov to rehearse and record the new CD.

On their first night in Moscow the Associate Producers were treated to cocktails and dinner on the roof of the Ritz Carlton, overlooking Red Square. The next day, Saturday, they enjoyed a VIP tour of Red Square, the Kremlin, and the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. They also experienced a traditional Russian banya at the Sanduni Banya. In the evening, the group had dinner at the White Rabbit, one of the best restaurants in the world with breath-taking views of the city!

On the second full day in Moscow, we began with our choir singing the Liturgy at Podvorye in the morning with our Associate Producers in attendance. The Associate Producers then had lunch at Genatsvale, a wonderful Georgian Restaurant. From there they were treated to a Moscow riverboat excursion and then a tour around the city before dinner.

While in Saratov, the Associate Producers continued to enjoy the VIP experience with exclusive behind-the-scenes access to the choir, front-row seats at our concert at the Saratov Conservatory, and tours around the city. If you are interested in the VIP Russia Experience stay tuned for how you can support PaTRAM during the recording of our next CD! All of our recording projects are generously funded by donors like you and we would love to have you involved in the process.

PaTRAM™ Institute to Record Next CD in Saratov, Russia, Accompanied by the Wonderworking Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God

Fresh off their GRAMMY nomination for their CD, Teach Me Thy Statutes, and their newly released CD, The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, the PaTRAM Institute will record their next CD in Saratov, Russia, this summer. The new CD, entitled More Honorable Than the Cherubim, is a compendium of hymns to the Theotokos by various composers, which will be sung by a fifty-six-member male choir. The singers hail from Russia, Serbia, North America, and Australia. GRAMMY-nominated Maestro Vladimir Gorbik will conduct the choir, which will include an unprecedented ten octavists, with baritone Michail Davydov as the featured soloist. On August 22nd, 2019, the choir will perform their repertoire in concert at the Saratov Conservatory.

The PaTRAM Institute Male Choir will be in Saratov for rehearsals and the recording of the new CD from August 20th-26th, 2019. The CD will be recorded at St. Nicholas Monastery by multi-GRAMMY Award-winning production company Sound Mirror. Sound Mirror has received more than one hundred GRAMMY Awards and nominations for their body of work. PaTRAM is thrilled to be working with them again to create a professional quality CD that brings the beauty of Russian choral music to a Western audience. Reference Recordings, a multi-GRAMMY Award-winning record label based in San Francisco, will print and distribute the completed CD.

With the special permission and blessing of Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God, considered by the Orthodox Church to be wonderworking, will also be traveling with the choir, accompanied by Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan. The icon will be in Saratov, Russia, from August 20th-28th, 2019, including during services for the feast of the Dormition.

PaTRAM will hold a press conference regarding this special project on Thursday, August 22nd, at the Saratov Conservatory at 5pm before the concert, and include a question and answer period with Alex Lukianov, co-founder and CEO of PaTRAM, and Maestro Vladimir Gorbik and Katya Lukianov, co-founders of PaTRAM.

Alexis Lukianov, co-founder, chairman, and CEO of PaTRAM Institute said, “This is the next step for our organization. We are trying to replicate our success from our earlier CDs, but with different composers and prayers. Originally, we had planned to focus on just one composer for this next recording. But once we realized the incredible blessing of the icon traveling with us, we decided to change the repertoire to be comprised of hymns to the Theotokos to honor the Mother of God and to appropriately celebrate the feast of the Dormition right after our recording.”

PaTRAM’s GRAMMY-nominated CD Teach Me Thy Statutes was recorded in Russia in 2016 and featured both American and Russian singers. Teach Me Thy Statutes was also named MusicWeb International’s 2018 Recording of the Year. PaTRAM’s newest CD, The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, has consistently been in the Top 15 on Amazon’s list of Hot New Releases in Opera and Vocal since the CD was released at the end of April. Besides continuing to promote and develop the skills of Orthodox choral singers in North America, PaTRAM also views its work as a landmark opportunity to unite East and West as the organization brings together singers from different countries who share the same language, culture, and beliefs to create beautiful and prayerful music. PaTRAM seeks to broaden its partnerships around the world with the aim of introducing more people to the beauty and power of Russian liturgical music, so that their lives might be transformed through a connection to this ancient and soulful form of worship.

 

Мужской хор Российско-американского музыкального института имени патриарха Тихона запишет новый диск в Саратове

С 19 по 26 августа в Саратове по инициативе хора Русско-Американского института им. Патриарха Тихона (США), учредителем которого является Алексей Лукьянов, будет проходить запись нового диска духовных песнопений. В сводный мужский хор, собранный специально для записи,  также войдут Мужской хор Московского Подворья Свято-Троицкой Сергиевой Лавры и Архиерейский хор Саратовской митрополии.

В записи под руководством известного дирижера Владимира Горбика примут участие пятьдесят шесть певчих из пяти стран (США, Канады, Австралии, Сербии и России). В альбом войдут духовные произведения разных композиторов, посвященные Пресвятой Богородице.

Запись CD-диска будет проводиться в Свято-Никольском мужском монастыре компанией Sound Mirror – обладательницей более 100 премий «Грэмми». PaTRAM очень рады новой совместной работе и надеются, что создаваемая запись будет способна передать западной аудитории всю красоту звучания русской хоровой музыки. Предыдущий совместный альбом «Научи мя оправданием Твоим» (‘Teach Me Thy Statutes’) был номинирован на Grammy в 2019 г.

22 августа сводный хор выступит с концертом в Большом зале Саратовской государственной консерватории.

20 августа в Покровском храме сводный хор в течение дня проведет открытые репетиции и исполнит духовные песнопения в честь главной святыни Русского Зарубежья – Курской-Коренной иконы Божией матери. Хор Русско-Американского института им. Патриарха Тихона (США) организует принесение этой чудотворной иконы в Саратовскую епархию.

Верующие смогут поклониться святыне в Покровском храме Саратова (ул. Горького, 85). Встреча иконы состоится в храме 20 августа в 19.00. Икона будет доступна для поклонения ежедневно с 20 по 28 августа.

В 2020 году Хор Русско-Американского института им. Патриарха Тихона (США) исполнит произведения, записанные в Саратове, а также другие духовные песнопения, собирающие полные залы по всему миру, в Москве. Специальным гостем концерта станет народный артист России Евгений Миронов. Все вырученные от концерта средства будут направлены на поддержку подопечных Благотворительного фонда «Жизнь в Движении», учредителями которого являются Евгений Миронов и Наталья Шагинян-Нидэм.

Курская-Коренная икона была явлена в сентябре 1295 года недалеко от сожженного татаро-монгольскими полчищами Курска. Название Коренной она получила потому, что, по преданию, местный охотник увидел ее в лесу лежащей ликом вниз на корне дерева. Когда этот человек поднял икону, на месте ее обретения забил родник.

Согласно житию, в 1767 году после молитвы перед этой иконой исцелился, будучи ребенком, преподобный Серафим Саровский.

Образ покинул Россию в октябре 1920 года. С тех пор икона находилась в Сербии, Германии, Швейцарии, а в 1951 году была перевезена в США.

Этот святой образ не без оснований называют главной святыней Русского Зарубежья: перед ней молились о покинутой Родине, терзаемой безбожниками, несколько поколений русских эмигрантов, перед ней скончался во время молитвы святитель Иоанн Шанхайский. Место постоянного пребывания святыни — Синодальный Знаменский собор на Манхеттене г. Нью-Йорка. В 2009 году, спустя 90 лет нахождения за пределами нашей страны, икона была в первый раз привезена в Россию. 

 

Пресс-активности:

16-17 августа | Москва | интервью и встреча с основателем PaTRAM Алексеем Лукьяновым.

20 августа | Саратов, Покровский храм | Пресс-брифинг, интервью, съемка Курской-Коренной иконы Божией материи, духовные песнопения.

22 августа | Большой зал Саратовской государственной консерватории | концерт.

 

Контакты для СМИ:

+7 917-584-80-66 (Егор), +7 962-623-74-56 (Елена).

 

An Afternoon At the Grammy Awards Was A First For PaTRAM™

On Sunday, February 10th, 2019, we made our first red carpet appearance at the 61st Grammy Awards in Los Angeles! It was truly an honor to be nominated and it was certainly a day to remember. PaTRAM has only been in existence for five short years and many musicians, choirs or otherwise, go decades without nomination. We wish to congratulate Donald Nally and “The Zealot Canticles” for their win in the category of “Best Choral Performance” – it was a privilege to be nominated alongside you.

We especially want to thank Alex and Katya Lukianov, Executive Producers of “Teach Me Thy Statutes”, Maestro Vladimir Gorbik, the Conductor of the PaTRAM Institute Male Choir, Blanton Alspaugh and John Newton, our Producer and Sound Engineer, respectively, from Sound Mirror, Marcia Martin from our label Reference Recordings, and of course each of the wonderful forty-two members of the PaTRAM choir. We look forward to another opportunity on the red carpet next year with our new CD releasing this spring!

Additionally, we wish to congratulate Blanton Alspaugh on winning the 2018 Grammy Award for Producer of the Year! Mr. Alspaugh produced Teach Me Thy Statutes and is a frequent collaborator with PaTRAM. Congratulations!

And we want to congratulate the Clarion Choir for their Grammy nomination for Memory Eternal! Alex and Katya were executive producers of their CD as well.

PaTRAM was very well-represented in Los Angeles. Alex and Katya Lukianov attended the awards along with their children Elizabeth, Cassandra, Alexander and Anastasia, Maestro Gorbik, his wife Svetlana, and other friends and supporters of PaTRAM.

Teach Me Thy Statutes Nominated For A Grammy Award

PaTRAM™ is proud to announce their latest CD, “Teach Me Thy Statutes“, has been nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance!

On the heels of MusicWeb International’s recent designation of “Teach Me Thy Statutes” as their Recording of the Year, the Recording Academy has followed that honor with a Grammy nomination. The pinnacle of all recorded music accolades.

As if all that wasn’t enough, the Producer of “Teach Me Thy Statutes”, Blanton Alspaugh, has been nominated as Producer of the Year by the Academy! Mr. Alspaugh, and his production company Sound Mirror, are frequent collaborators of PaTRAM’s. Congratulations to Mr. Alspaugh!

The 61st Grammy Awards will be held in February 2019.

Teach Me Thy Statutes – MusicWeb International’s 2018 Recording of the Year

Teach Me Thy Statutes“, has been named 2018 Recording of the Year by MusicWeb International – following over a dozen critically acclaimed and highly respected reviewers.

MusicWeb International (WMI) is a world-renowned non-commercial classical and choral music resource on the web. MWI’s reviewers published 2400 reviews in 2018. The recording of the year competition included 130 selections from 70 different labels, an incredibly competitive sample of work. From all of those options, MWI selected “Teach Me Thy Statutes” as the best in 2018!

PaTRAM™ Institute considers this an immense achievement and is very proud and humbled by this distinction.

PaTRAM thanks ALL of its supporters, donors and friends for their faith in our work.

PaTRAM™ CEO Interviewed by Fanfare Magazine

PaTRAM CEO Alexis V. Lukianov

After an incredibly successful release of PaTRAM’s latest CD, “Teach Me Thy Statutes”, PaTRAM’s CEO, Alexis V. Lukianov sat down recently to do an interview with Fanfare Magazine’s James Altena.

Mr. Lukianov talks about the history of PaTRAM, his love for and devotion to the Russian Orthodox Church and its music and, of course, about the recently released CD. The discussion gives the reader an in-depth look into PaTRAM’s involvement in sacred music and Mr. Lukianov’s role in bringing that music, and the practical knowledge of reproducing it, to North America.

Accompanying the interview is a review of the CD by one of Fanfare’s reviewers, JF Weber.

We hope you’ll take the time to read this informative interview.

As Wikipedia describes it, “Fanfare is an American bimonthly magazine devoted to reviewing recorded music in all playback formats. It mainly covers classical music, but since inception, it has also featured a jazz column in every issue.”

Alex and Katya Lukianov Receive Cultural Heritage Award from Clarion Music Society

The Clarion Music Society, whose Grammy-nominated Clarion Choir is a frequent collaborator of PaTRAM’s, selected Alex and Katya Lukianov to receive their Cultural Heritage Award. The Society presents this award to people who have shown selfless dedication to the support and promotion of their cultural heritage to the world as a whole.

On April 18, 2018, at the annual Clarion Music Society Masked Gala in New York City, Alex and Katya were presented the award by Dr. Nicolas Schidlovsky*, an Honorary Chairman for this event, PaTRAM advisor and long-time friend of the Lukianovs.  Dr. Schidlovsky’s speech explained why the Lukianovs were receiving this award and why it is so richly deserved, peppering it with some of his well-known wit and humor.

When accepting the award, the Lukianovs were clearly moved by the moment and Alex gave a short acceptance speech thanking the Society, family, friends and collaborators and commenting on how much they love their Church and its music. As Alex said in his speech, “we’re humbled to have received this award” and it showed.

All photos by Stephen Smith

*Dr. Nicolas Schidlovsky holds a Ph.D., M.F.A., Princeton UniversityDepartment of Music; B.A., Williams College. He is a pianist, 
historical ethnomusicologist, composer, and vocal (liturgical)
collegium director with an extensive record of music teaching and
musicianship including the faculties of Westminster Choir College
and Westminster Conservatory. Dr. Schidlovsky has lectured at The 
Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC) and Smithsonian Institution 
(Washington, DC). He is the recipient of prestigious awards as 
musician and scholar (well-known for leading publications as 
medievalist and global chant specialist) from the National Endowmentfor the Humanities, The Martha B. Rockefeller Fund for Music, 
International Research and Exchanges Board, Fulbright-Hays, 
Dumbarton Oaks, and others and a participant in premier exchange 
as an American music student at the Moscow Conservatory, U.S.S.R.,
1978-80.

 

A New Musical Setting of the Divine Liturgy

Please note that the article that follows was reprinted from the Orthodox Arts Journal.


Editor’s note: On Tuesday, September 12, 2017 at 9:30 am the PaTRAM Institute singers Choir, conducted by Maestro Peter Jermihov, will sing an original all-English Liturgy based on the Russian style, commissioned by the PaTRAM Institute and composed by Dr. Kurt Sander, at St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral in Howell, NJ.

We have asked Dr. Sander to describe for us his experience composing this exciting new work. Here are his thoughts, followed by the official flyer announcing the service at which the piece will be premiered. Our readers are encouraged to attend.

St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral, Howell, NJ

During the eight months it took to complete the work, I can say that the whole process reinforced two important principles in my mind regarding Orthodox sacred music. The first is that language is indeed the primordial substance of worship. Words are the vehicles for prayer and words are powerful things on an intellectual level. Yet, how we speak a particular word in a particular language is also important. It influences how we sing it, and how we sing it, in turn, influences how we understand it. So, not only do we have a semantic understanding of a word or phrase, but we also have a phonological or “musical” understanding as well. One might say that in the writing of this Liturgy, I rediscovered my appreciation for the aesthetic qualities of the English language as a language of prayer, and its ability to convey through sound rich theological ideas with clarity and economy. While it is not an easy language for singers, it is a wonderful language for composers. Working from the English text felt very natural, and as someone who has done his fair share of English adaptation of pre-existing Slavonic works, this process felt both organic and liberating.

St. Alexander Nevsky Dicoesan Cathedral, Howell, NJ

The second principle is this – I have come to better understand the Liturgy not as a sequence of textual events that unfold over time, but more as an artistic whole that expresses the entirety of the Christian experience – the great and literal sacrifice that we come to understand as the essence of the Liturgy. How to maintain such unity was initially a great concern of mine. I contemplated how I could take a collection of texts, some long, some short, and cultivate musically the kind of timeless experience that the Liturgy demands. I initially thought of some of the great sacred works of the past, specifically how composers like Bach, Haydn, Schubert and Verdi have fused the five movements of the Western Mass into a single composition. But in many ways the Liturgy is fundamentally different from the Mass, especially if one is thinking about the tradition of past musical models. In the Mass, the sectionalized nature of the five movements of the Ordinary almost bring a symphonic quality to the composition. After centuries of writing and thousands of settings, the character of each movement has been relatively established, and the overall understanding of the Mass as a musical statement tends to be fairly ingrained in the listener at this point in time.

This is not true of the Liturgy. While there are some historical models given to us by Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, and Gretchaninoff, the Divine Liturgy as a compositional genre does not emulate the status of the Mass in the western world. This is likely the result of a number of factors which are better articulated by a musicologist. However, from a composer’s point of view, I believe some of the reasoning behind this is that the liturgy does not immediately present itself as a neatly-packaged artistic form. Rather, it is a mosaic of large and small portions of text that are woven into single seamless experience. If I were to approach the work from the starting point that there are a certain number of “important” movements which act as cornerstones for the rest of the Liturgy, I do believe that something important would be lost. It requires a very different kind of compositional premise that demands attention to the little things.

St. Alexander Nevsky Dicoesan Cathedral, Howell, NJ

In the process of writing, I slowly began to realize that what many would call the minor parts of the Liturgy (the litanies, the responses, the short, one-sentence choral utterances) are actually the fibers that hold the work together. When larger musical ideas present themselves, it is these brief moments of prayer and introspection that refocus the worshipper to God’s mercy. If you think about the words, “Lord, have mercy,” you have to come to the realization that it is one of our shortest, but most powerful prayers. We are in need of mercy – for us, for our salvation, for others, and for our Church leaders. Our relationship to God is all about His mercy to us, and this is why the Church has us repeat it so often over the course of the Liturgy. So, knowing the importance of these petitions, I found that I could maintain the sense of liturgical unity by thematically integrating each litany into the fabric of the score. There are distinctive thematic elements in some of the larger portions of music that come back in various ways through the petitions of the litanies. Sometimes, they manifest themselves in a spirit of joy; other times, they sound through a more penitential tone. In each case, however, one hears the same musical material return as a musical symbol of God’s eternal presence in our lives.

Dr. Kurt Sander

To view the full announcement, click here.