Press Release: Commission of Divine Liturgy from Kurt Sander

PaTRAM Institute is pleased to announce the commission of a new Divine Liturgy from American Orthodox composer Kurt Sander. The work is set for completion in 2017 and will be premiered in the context of a Divine Liturgy celebrated at in Howell, NJ.

Kurt Sander is a major Orthodox composer who has been actively contributing new music for Orthodox divine worship for the past 25 years. He holds a Doctoral Degree in Music from Northwestern University and serves as Chairman of the Music Department at Northern Kentucky University. In addition, he is Choir Director at St. George Russian Orthodox Church in Loveland, Ohio. Sander is an award-winning composer who is widely published and performed in the United States and abroad. For more information, please visit his website. 

The premiere will be conducted by Dr. Peter Jermihov: “It has been one of the great pleasures of my musical life to collaborate with Kurt Sander on distinctive events of merit in the past, and I am thrilled and honored to serve as conductor of this supremely important event!” Jermihov, a tonsured Reader of the Russian Orthodox Church and student of master-teacher of conducting Ilya Musin, is a strong advocate of new music and Founder and Artistic Director of the Society of St. Romanos based in Chicago. He will lead the premiere with members of the St. Patriarch Tikhon Choir and outstanding Orthodox singers from across America. For more information about this American-born, Russian conductor, please visit his website.

Download the Press Release

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Kurt Sander


Article: “To Russia With Song” by Thomas R. Vozella

As 2015 came to an end, Thomas Vozella, one of PaTRAM’s participants in the First Annual Moscow Master Class, shared his experience on the ACDA (American Choral Directors Association) website. Within the article, Vozella spoke about the similarity between American Churches with liturgical worship traditions and Orthodox traditions, “beautiful houses of worship, exquisite liturgy and pageantry, outstanding psalms, hymns and spiritual songs by various composers. Instruments are not used in Orthodox Liturgy. Services are unaccompanied. It is music crated to the glory and worship of God.” We are thankful that Vozella allowed us to share his article and personal experience as being “transformational, both musically and spiritually.”

Read the full article here.


Vladimir Gorbik conducting 35 Americans and the Moscow Representation Church (Metochion) of the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Monastery Choir during Divine Liturgy

Podcast: In-depth look at the music featured on the first Patriarch Tikhon Choir CD, “Praise the Lord, All Ye Nations.”

Vladimir Morosan, President and Founder of Musica Russica,  developed the podcast “Sing to the Lord” on Ancient Faith Ministries. “Sing to the Lord” is a program devoted to exploring the various aspects of Orthodox liturgical singing and all manner of related topics. The program will explore the theology of singing and Orthodox worship over the centuries, different types of hymns and genres, the origins and structures of various chant systems, and the various hymnographers and composers. We will hear the music itself and discuss ways of listening to the hymns, understanding them, and ways of learning to internalize them so that they speak to us more clearly, and help us to pray.

Listen as he takes an in-depth look at the music featured on the recently released CD, “Praise the Lord, All Ye Nations” by the Patriarch Tikhon Choir, and gives an insider’s look at some of the reasons this CD represents an important landmark on the musical landscape of Orthodoxy in North America.

Listen to Part 1:  Length: 39:11
Listen to Part 2: Length: 37:39

Russian News: Vladimir Gorbik Conducts Divine Liturgy Following Irkutsk Master Class

More media coverage by the Second Russian State TV channel “Vesti,” as Vladimir Gorbik leads Festal Vigil in honor of Our Lady of Kazan held in Tel’ma, near Irkutsk.

November 4, 2015 — The Kazan icon of the Mother of God was commemorated and Minin and Pozharsky were remembered, as a hierarchal Divine Liturgy was held at the church in the village of Thelma, Usolsk district, near Irkutsk.

The Hierarchical service started early in the morning, but at dawn the church was already filled by many hundreds of believers. They came not only from Tel’ma and Usol’ye-Sibirskoye, but also from Angarsk and Irkutsk, in order to celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Kazan, and also to remember Minin and Pozharsky [the Russian heroes from the war against the Poles during Time of Troubles of 1611-12, whose monument stands on Red Square in front of St. Basil’s Cathedral].

This particular church was consecrated in 1816 in honor of the victory over the French. According to legend, the church was built by Italian architects. An exiled master-clockmaker by the name of Klimov installed a unique clock mechanism in the bell tower: every hour, as the musical clock played different tunes, alabaster angels danced along the parapet. The church was closed in 1936, but the head of the local administration, who was a believer, preserved the building despite the orders to destroy it: he filled the church to the ceiling with grain. And thus it stood through the entire Second World War. Restoration work on the church began a decade ago, and in 2011 iconographers from Ivanov finished painting the frescoes.

On the eve of the feast day, the hymns were sung by the Male Choir of the Irkutsk Diocese. Said one worshiper: “Today was very good. There were many priests, and the atmosphere was somehow grace-filled. The singing was beautiful.” This is Vladimir Gorbik. For the past eleven [seventeen] years, he has been choirmaster at the Moscow Representation (podvor’ye) of the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Monastery.
He came to Irkutsk especially to show local Siberians how to sing sacred liturgical hymns. For two days they prepared for the service. The choirmaster was pleased with the results. “The choir, in my opinion, sang on a very high level. The singing was fresh, musical, and spiritual. This is very important on a festive occasion,” said Choirmaster Gorbik.

Russian News: Vladimir Gorbik Leads Irkutsk Master Class

The Second State Russian TV channel “Russia” tells about Vladimir Gorbik Master Class and recital in Irkutsk (Russia), November 2 – 5, 2015.

The program included the Russian Sacred music and the work on Requiem of Verdi with the students of Irkutsk Music College of F.Chopin and also the work with students-conductors of this College on their choral and symphony technique of conducting.

Choirmaster from Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Monastery Leads Master Class in Irkutsk

The singing class lasted for 12 hours! Irkutsk was the scene of a unique workshop for church singers given by Vladimir Gorbik, the choirmaster of the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Monastery Representation in Moscow. Singers in this regional center prepared very thoroughly for the arrival of the master teacher.

Here we are in Vladimir Gorbik’s Master Class. The choirmaster from the Trinity-St. Sergius Monastery began his lesson at nine in the morning and will finish at nine o’clock at night. There are about a hundred people in the hall. Among those singing in the choir are teachers of local music schools and academies. They have gathered from Irkutsk, Angarsk, Bratsk and Shelekhov. But the most important thing in this type of singing is not the singing voice, but faith, the choirmaster says.

“I always try to get as many people as possible involved in this process. Because when a person sings, he or she is blessed. And when people devote their efforts to working for God—and church singing is indeed work for God—their souls take wing and they are inspired. I would not say that we depend solely on professionals to get the job done,” says Vladimir Gorbik.

His work with choirs is beyond politics, Gorbik asserts. He has already taught the same type of master classes in New York, Pennsylvania, and California. He has taught hundreds of American singers about Russian spiritual culture. So in Irkutsk they prepared for Vladimir Gorbik’s arrival thoroughly and for a long time.

“We rehearsed for two weeks, people were learning their scores and making audio recordings, which they sent to him over the Internet, so that he could listen ahead of time. This is the kind of preparatory work that took place here,” – said Anthony Smolin, director of the male choir of the Irkutsk Diocese.

“The sound must be strong, yet soft. Strong from the standpoint of breath support, quiet in terms of volume,” says Choirmaster Gorbik.

For eleven years he has been the chief choir director of the Male Choir of the Moscow Representation (podvor’ye) of the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Monastery. He has recorded numerous CDs, not only of worship services, but also of concerts. Today they are preparing for the Hierarchal Divine Liturgy that will take place in Telma (Siberia), on November 4, the day commemorating the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God. That same evening, in the Irkutsk Youth Theatre, a gala concert will take place featuring the Verdi Requiem.

Russian News: Moscow Workshop Participant Speaks with


On September 27 we posted an interview with Benedict Sheehan, choirmaster at St. Tikhon’s Monastery and Seminary in Pennsylvania, in which he shared his thoughts on the state of Church music in America and about the various projects with which he is involved. One of those projects is the Patriarch Tikhon Russian-American Music Institute (PaTRAM) which is dedicated to promoting high-quality Church singing, through private instructions and also through Master Classes throughout America. September 2—6 the institute offered its first Master Class in Russia, at the Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra Podvoriye in Moscow, where Institute co-founder Maestro Vladimir Gorbik, of whom Benedict spoke, is choirmaster. Singers from America, Canada, and Russia came together for an intensive workshop in Slavonic choral music, as well as several pilgrimage-outings, under the direction of Maestro Gorbik.

We spoke with Isaac Crabtree of St. John Chrysostom Orthodox Church in House Springs, MO, one of the thirty-five participants in the Master Class, about the experience. His thoughts and reflections are a testament to the work of PaTRAM and give us insight into the depth of the Orthodox choral tradition, and what can be accomplished both technically and spiritually when we give our best effort and our first fruits to the Lord.

* * *

Give us a run-down of the daily schedule of the conference.

This was a four-day Master Class, Wednesday—Saturday, that also included several planned excursions to holy places. Our final practice was on Saturday afternoon and we sang the Vigil at the Podvoriye Saturday evening, and the Divine Liturgy on Sunday. Each day was scheduled differently, but all were a combination of rehearsals or divine services and either planned or informal excursions.

For those who know Maestro Gorbik, he can have a reputation of being pretty strict and tough. What was it like working with him? Was it very different from working in a Church choir in America?
I am very pleased to answer this question, because I too had heard of his reputation. Maestro Gorbik told us at the outset that our class was like a journey up a steep mountain. His goal was to lead us up the mountainside, to that beautiful view. Only he among us gathered had seen how beautiful the view is at the top of this mountain, and only he knew the best way to get there. It was necessary, then, to follow him and accept his help when we fell down or got lost. This help, at times, took the form of mild corrections. Should we expect that someone who has dedicated his life to the millennium-long sacred tradition of Russian chant to have a casual attitude toward how we sing?

I think all of us understood that his corrections and admonitions were given to motivate us and perhaps also to humble us. After all, without humility and a willingness to struggle, real progress is impossible, in singing or in anything else. A few times, after some particularly difficult work or after some correction, he would tell us that he loved us. I think he said this every day of rehearsal. He didn’t say it in some silly or meaningless way, but in a truly spiritual way that also made us love and respect him. He demonstrated by his example that being truly kind, truly humble, truly loving, is not at all the same as being superficially “nice.” His strictness was a loving, fatherly strictness. His corrections were never humiliating, but motivated us to greater levels of musicianship. There was so much spiritual wisdom to his approach.

This conference was open to people of any level of musical ability. Was it a great struggle to bring such a diverse group together cohesively? How was this accomplished?

You’ve chosen the right person to answer this question. I found myself, a complete amateur, to be in the company of some truly excellent Orthodox American musicians, including the young and amazing tenor Adrian Fekula, already an accomplished ecclesiastical choir director himself in New York, from a family of distinguished musicians; Alexi Lukianov and Kelley Cossey, bassos profundo who took our sound into another dimension; Alexandra Pavuk, an incredible singer, composer and a music major; and my own choir director Constantine Stade, a music B.A., a quite experienced singer, and an authority in North America for the installation and ringing of bells in the Russian Orthodox tradition. Thankfully, though, I was not the only amateur. This was a class for everyone.

We arrived as individual musicians and were transformed through these classes into a choir. What can do this? I think the music itself gave me the answer. As the male choir was rehearsing Archimandrite Matfei’s Сподоби Господи (“Vouchsafe, O Lord”) the power of the music left this indelible impression on my soul: Тебе подобает хвала, Тебе подобает пение, Тебе слава подобает … climbing up to this amazing crescendo and heavenly chord. Truly, to Thee is due praise, to Thee is due a song, to Thee glory is due! Maestro Gorbik’s class showed me that there is a heavenly glory you can taste in sacred music when one executes it properly, and it becomes transformative. I think as we all began to experience this for ourselves the easier it became to sing and pray as one, or perhaps our unity led to the experience, or both.

He is also known for emphasizing the connection, which he argues is necessary, between musical excellence and a real, lived spiritual life. Was this something that you felt coming across from him?

Unequivocally I did. Maestro Gorbik taught us this both by his words and his example. I felt like so much of what I learned was not merely about how to sing, but how to pray.His classes were captivating. The rehearsal time seemed to fly by every day. Several times he stopped us, not in order to discuss our singing but to teach us something about the inner spiritual realities of the sacred music.

For instance, once he mentioned to us a legend that says that vocal music was taught to the world by Abel, while instrumental music was given to the world by Cain. Whether literally true or not, I was struck by it because it is clearly saying something about music as an offering to God. We know that Abel’s offering was accepted, while Cain’s was not found to be worthy of God. I really got the impression that Maestro Gorbik saw the sacred music as an offering, a sacrifice—far more than a mere performance.

How has your understanding of Church music and singing in Church changed or developed through this experience?

I used to believe that, while Church singing should be done clearly and prayerfully, too much attention to the aesthetic aspect of the performance made it somehow less spiritual. I no longer believe this. The class showed me that with music, as with everything we do, what matters is the heart’s intention. Church music is another kind of iconography. Just as an iconographer strives to represent the exceeding radiance and superlative spiritual beauty of the Lord and His Most Pure Mother in the images he paints, we should always be striving to offer the very best to Christ in our singing. The widow in the Temple gave only two mites, but it was everything she had. Like her, we singers ought to give everything we have. This intention transfigures our labors to improve the execution and beauty of the music into something very spiritual. I really think that both Maestro Gorbik and the efforts of the other singers shook me out of my complacency and challenged me to become much more serious and intentional about how I sing.

Do you feel the group accomplished the goals initially set for the conference?

The goals, as I understood them, were to train a group of American musicians in the several pieces chosen, so that we actually sounded not only like a professional choir, but like a professional Russian Orthodox choir. I am in no position myself to judge this, but Maestro Gorbik told us afterwards that the monastery was very pleased with us. Others of the faithful in attendance also expressed their great appreciation. Maestro Gorbik himself also congratulated us on a job well done. This was enough for me.

As you said, the group was also taken on several excursions to churches and monasteries. Tell us about that. What impression did these holy places leave on you?

It was an experience of Holy Russia. On one day we visited the Kremlin, with its sacred temples where the Tsars were coronated and buried. It was such a gift to pray for my children before the relics of the child-martyr St. Dmitri. One cannot see the very place in Uspensky Sobor where the Vladimir Icon of the most holy Mother of God used to be, where the Orthodox Tsars were anointed with holy chrism, and remain unmoved.

On Friday evening several of us went to Vigil at Sretensky Monastery. This was the fulfillment of another dream of mine. I have read Everyday Saints three times, and have bought several copies for my friends. To be in the place associated with Archimandrite Tikhon was such a blessing. It was heaven on earth to hear such a beautiful and prayerful choir and to pray at this service with my American friends.

On Saturday we were given a private tour of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior by none other than the Archpriest Leonid (Kalinin) who was in charge of its reconstruction. We were able to first attend Divine Liturgy in the lower church of the Transfiguration, and then to go into the main temple to venerate sacred relics such as the head of St. John Chrysostom, the heavenly patron of my own parish in Missouri. Archpriest Leonid told us about the meaning of Christ the Savior Cathedral, about how it represented the victory of the Church (and consequently, of Russia) over atheism. This was why the Bolsheviks destroyed it, and why it was so important that it be rebuilt during the spiritual resurrection of Russia. He told us about that bitterly cold feast of the Nativity when the Patriarch said the blessing on the hallowed ground for the temple’s reconstruction, and how a heavenly fire descended and rested upon that place.

PaTRAM saved the best of the excursions for last. On Sunday after Divine Liturgy at the Podvoriye church we took a bus to Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra. We were there on the very day of the Mother of God’s appearance to St. Sergius and his disciple. We were in the very place that this happened. The monks had removed the glass covering from the relics of St. Sergius and I venerated the shroud covering the holy face of the father of Russian monasticism, and the Russian Church’s foremost ascetic, intercessor, and wonderworker.

I remember that in preparation for this trip I read the account of the appearance of the most holy Mother of God with the Apostles Peter and John to St. Sergius and his disciple. As he felt Her approaching, he told his disciple, “Come child, and we shall have a wondrous visit.” It felt like the saint was saying that to each of us—that his prayers brought us to Moscow to experience the spiritual power of Orthodoxy in that place. Returning through the Lavra’s gates, something prompted me to go to one of the icons of the holy parents of St. Sergius, and beg them to let me return to this place one day with my family.

Do you feel that your own spiritual life has developed by this experience?

I almost answered such a personal question with a laconic “Yes,” and moved on to the next one! That didn’t feel right to do in an interview for my favorite Orthodox website.

I’ll just tell you that I feel like one of the emissaries that St. Vladimir sent to the Greeks in the tenth century, and can say with them, “We knew not whether we were in Heaven or on earth. For on earth there is no such splendor or such beauty, and we are at a loss how to describe it. We know only that God dwells there among men … for we cannot forget that beauty.” Nothing can ever be the same for me.

What is the most memorable part of the trip for you?

I’ve already recounted some of them, so I’ll add just one last one: an epiphany during the Divine Liturgy. As I listened to us all singing Divine Liturgy with Vladimir Gorbik, on the feast of All Saints of Moscow, at the Podvoriye of Trinity-Sergius Lavra, surrounded by the holy fathers and the faithful, standing at the kliros before the icon of the holy Royal Passion-bearers, I remembered Maestro Gorbik’s mountain analogy from the beginning of our class. It occurred to me then that only as we reached the summit of this mountain was it revealed to be none other than Mount Tabor: Lord, it is good for us to be here.

Jesse Dominick spoke with Isaac Crabtree

04 / 10 / 2015

Orthodox liturgical music podcast on Ancient Faith Radio

A new podcast about Orthodox liturgical music was launched in September 2015 on Ancient Faith Radio.
“Sing to the Lord; Exploring the Many Facets of Orthodox Liturgical Singing” is a program devoted to exploring the various aspects of Orthodox liturgical singing and all manner of related topics. The program will explore the theology of singing and Orthodox worship over the centuries, different types of hymns and genres, the origins and structures of various chant systems, and the various hymnographers and composers. We will hear the music itself and discuss ways of listening to the hymns, understanding them, and ways of learning to internalize them so that they speak to us more clearly, and help us to pray.

The author of the podcast is Dr. Vladimir Morosan who has worked in the field of Orthodox church music for over forty years. He is the founder and Artistic Director of Archangel Voices, a professional-level choral ensemble which has recorded six CD’s of Orthodox liturgical music in English. Other Orthodox church musicians may co-host this podcast in the future.

Dr. Morosan has taught and lectured widely at church music workshops and conferences, conducted choirs in various jurisdictions of Orthodox churches in the United States, served as a guest conductor, coach, and lecturer for a number of professional choirs, and is the composer and editor of numerous Orthodox choral arrangements.

He is a working consultant for the Dept. of Liturgical Music of the Orthodox Church in America, has served as a consultant for the Dept. of Sacred Music of the Antiochian Archdiocese, and is a member of the board of directors of the Patriarch Tikhon Russian-American Institute (PaTRAM). He is the President and Founder of Musica Russica, a publishing house specializing in Orthodox and Russian music and has authored, edited, and translated several books. A tonsured reader in the Orthodox Church, Vladimir is presently the Music Director at St. Katherine Orthodox Church in Carlsbad, California.

The podcast is available at the following link. New podcasts will be posted approximately every two weeks.

Orthodox Arts Journal – Moscow 2015 Workshop Review

Andrew Gould, architectural designer at New World Byzantine, and founder of New World Byzantine Studios and the Orthodox Arts Journal, participated in PaTRAM’s recent choral workshop in Moscow. He shared his reflections on the program in an article for Orthodox Arts Journal. Read the full article HERE.


Participants of our Moscow 2015 workshop during rehearsal at the Podvorye.


Russian News: Report on PaTRAM Moscow Master Class

Why did Americans travel to Moscow to learn more about Slavonic singing in the Russian Orthodox church?



Voice of America – Report of PaTRAM 2015 Moscow Master Class

This Voice of America report highlights our recent workshop’s expression of unity between Americans and Russians through sharing the Orthodox Christian faith. (Report in English.)

Russian News: Report on PaTRAM Moscow Master Class

Take a look at this clip of a recent TV news report on our Moscow Master Class!!!

A choir outside of politics: 35 people came to Moscow to learn how to improve their singing in church Slavonic via a Master Class offered by Maestro Vladimir Gorbik.

PaTRAM Director Receives Honors at 2014 Grammy Awards

VMDr. Vladimir Morosan, founder of the publishing house, Musica Russica, has earned his reputation as the foremost authority on the subject of Russian choral music. He has dedicated over 30 years of effort to promoting this tradition in the English-speaking musical world. His extraordinary knowledge was given particular recognition at the this year’s Grammy Awards, held on February 8, by Craig Johnson, artistic director and conductor of Conspirare, a choral ensemble based in Austin, Texas.sacred-spirit-of-russia1-e1405645811772

Conspirare was awarded the Grammy for Best Choral Performance of the year.  Their album, “The Sacred Spirit of Russia,” was composed entirely of Russian Orthodox sacred music published by Musica Russica, and personally selected and coached by Dr. Morosan.