Renowned Conductor, Steven Fox, Reviews PaTRAM Institute™ CD,”Blessed Art Thou among Women”

“Throughout the recording, the choir of thirty singers performs not only with an excellent blend, but also with a varied palette of vocal colors that reflect the mood and style of each individual piece….the singing is passionate, not just outwardly, but coming from a deep place of spirituality. This is an aspect of PaTRAM’s mission that shines through.” Coming from such an accomplished choral conductor, Maestro Steven Fox’s review of PaTRAM Institute’s latest CD is, indeed, high praise.

Steven Fox* is himself an accomplished recording artist having successfully led the Clarion Choir to multiple Grammy nominations, conducted the Clarion Orchestra in performing live operas and other classical works and was appointed, as Music Director, to The Cathedral Choral Society in Washington, DC. PaTRAM Institute is honored to have Mr. Fox review our recording, below:

This is the fourth recording from the PaTRAM Institute in their impressive series of Russian Orthodox sacred works. The album brings together Marian works from the Baroque period through the 20th century (with one 21st-century work) in honor of Protopresbyter Valery Lukianov, the father of PaTRAM founder Alexis Lukianov, who passed away in 2018.  Fr. Valery, as explained in a letter in the booklet, was especially devoted to the Mother of God. Therefore PaTRAM’s program for this recording is a very fitting tribute to his memory. 

The program of works was compiled by conductor Peter Jermihov, one of the foremost authorities in the research and performance of Russian Orthodox sacred music.  He was assisted in the programming by Kathy Lukianov, co-founder of PaTRAM and an accomplished choral conductor in her own right. 

Throughout the recording, the choir of thirty singers performs not only with an excellent blend, but also with a varied palette of vocal colors that reflect the mood and style of each individual piece.  Mr. Jermihov brings technical prowess and interpretive conviction.  Thankfully, the curated program plays out not in chronological order, but in a way in which different settings of the same text can be heard side by side. This allows listeners to appreciate the subtle differences in the ways each composer approached these texts. 

The recording is made in the Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky in Howell, New Jersey, and the program begins with a flourish of the Cathedral bells: a traditional call to worship with a unique melody composed by Peter Lukianov. We are then thrust into two settings of the text ‘Deva Dnes,’ a Christmas text announcing the Birth of Christ. PaTRAM’s performance of Dmitri Bortniansky’s setting brings out the quintessential rhythmic elements of his high Classical style. Jermihov also stretches the tempo in certain places to draw attention to moments in the text that deserve special appreciation, such as ‘rodisya’ (‘is born’). Alexander Kastalsky’s setting of the same prayer follows Bortniansky’s and is also performed with great rhythmic vitality. The Kastalsky has a slightly richer harmonic palette, and some unexpected harmonic turns, as one often finds in his works.  For example, there is a quick resolution to unison at the end of the phrase: ‘The Angels, with the shepherds, glorify Him.’  Kastalsky has a knack for achieving high drama in short forms – even many of his larger works are divided into shorter movements, pithy in meaning and musical material.  Later in the disc we hear another Kastalsky work, ‘Rejoice, O Queen,’ also beautifully rendered by the choir, and drawing attention to the composer’s signature skill of weaving a chant melody effortlessly through the different parts of the choir. 

Vasily Polikarpovich Titov’s ‘O Virgin Unwedded’ is a prime example of Russian Baroque choral music (yes, there is such a thing!).  Titov’s music is in the Russian polychoral tradition of Diletsky, but it also has significant similarities to Venitian antiphonal music of the early Baroque.  The juxtaposition of music that recalls a Gabrieli polychoral work with the dark colors of the Church Slavonic language is strikingly beautiful. 

Mr. Jermihov brings his particular expertise in the music of Soviet composer Sviridov to light in the performance of the ‘Hymn of Praise’. Jermihov is a champion of Sviridov’s works, and the performance makes a compelling argument for his being one of the most important composers of sacred music from Soviet Russia.  The slow moving, rich harmonic progressions place the listener in the world of the magnificent Cathedral and its ethereal acoustics.  

Pavel Chesnokov was one of the first composers of Russian sacred music to have his works embraced in the West, where editions of his music were printed both in Church Slavonic and in English. Chesnokov’s music speaks powerfully, emotionally, and directly.  This could be why it has always been appreciated outside of Russia and across the globe.  ‘Most Holy Theotokos, Save Us’ is fascinating in its antiphonal writing between the choir and the Deacon. The Deacon’s part is sung by Protodeacon Leonid Roschko, whose voice has a ravishing dark color and a disarming humanity.

The text ‘Do Not Lament Me, O Mother’ is captured in a modern setting by Sergey Zheludkov, whose style is reminiscent of the late 19th-century Russian composers of sacred music. The performance features a gorgeous solo by renowned basso profundo Glenn Miller. Later on the disc, we hear Alexander Chesnokov’s setting of the same text, starting more starkly but growing in intensity through to the final line of text:   ‘I shall exalt all who magnify Thee in faith and love.’     

In the first part of the recording, the singing is admirably controlled. But for Rachmaninoff’s The Theotokos, Ever-Vigilant in Prayer, the singing opens up in a different and welcome way, particularly in the phrase: ‘grob i umershchvleniye ne uderzhasta’ / ‘neither the tomb nor death could hold captive’. This kind of thrilling, free singing could have perhaps been welcome on a few more moments on the disc! 

There is something arrestingly beautiful and stoic about the performance of Kallinikov’s concise Ave Maria, compared with the slightly more harmonically rich and dramatic setting of the same text by Tcherepnin (the very next track on the recording). Both versions, with their contrasting styles, are executed with great elegance by the PaTRAM choir.   Also beautifully rendered are the two contrasting settings of ‘It is Truly Meet’: the first a bell-like, joyous setting by Gretchaninov; the second, a more introspective setting by Tcherepnin. The melodic motives in Tcherepnin’s setting are hauntingly doubled sometimes in octaves, other times in 11ths.  The PaTRAM choir executes these parallel lines well in tune (not easy to do!). Both of these settings are extraordinary, and, according to the notes in the disc, are recorded here for the very first time. 

Nikolai Mikhailovich Danilin was the legendary director of the Moscow Synodal Choir when they premiered Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil.  His setting of St. John of Damascus hymn ‘All of Creation Rejoices in Thee’ has a wondrous sense of awe and reverence throughout – a wonderful discovery for me on this recording. 

Ledkovsky’s freely-composed ‘The Angel Cried Out’ is also a stand-out composition on the disc, performed with great presence and warmth – one has the sense that the choir members have known this piece for a long time. It also includes a soaring solo by the wonderful soprano Fotina Naumenko.  

Works on the recording by Ilyashenko, Matvyeyev, Lvovsky, and Tolstiakov show the remarkable ability of these composers to write liturgically-appropriate pieces that also have a very high level of musical sophistication. Matveyev’s Magnification for the Icon ‘Joy of All the Sorrowful’ reflects the ‘opulence from a bygone era,’ as Mr. Jermihov writes in the booklet notes. And the singing he elicits from the choir is full and opulent indeed, and the excellent solo quartet adds additional dynamism to the choral texture. 

The recording ends on a very personal note, with a male quartet singing ‘In the Flesh Thou Didst Fall Asleep,’ a hymn which Fr. Valery Lukianov used to sing himself during Easter services, and then with ‘Memory Eternal’ by Pavel Chesnokov, intoned, in a moving gesture, by Fr. Valery’s son, Alexis Lukianov. 

Throughout the recording, the singing is passionate, not just outwardly, but coming from a deep place of spirituality. This is an aspect of PaTRAM’s mission that shines through.  Maestro Jermihov’s own wisdom and experience in the Russian Orthodox liturgy imbue the performances with an earnest passion and communication of the meaning of the text.  Jermihov also brings to the performances a sense of how these works function liturgically. This is something that these composers, many of whom were active in the church themselves, thought about. Therefore, these considerations are often part of the essential fabric of the music.  The recording is produced superbly by Blanton Alspaugh, John Newton, and their Soundmirror team: the sound in the space is captured in such a way that you can hear the details and characterful qualities in the voices, but also appreciate the experience one would have sitting in the middle of the Cathedral, where the voices crystallize.  It is moving to note that the Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky was engineered and built by Fr. Valery Lukianov. It was the ideal setting for this recording and one of the reasons it turned out so well. 

*The reviewer, Steven Fox, has collaborated with the PaTRAM Institute and Mr. Jermihov on several occasions.

Music from PaTRAM Institute™ Is Truly Global In Its Reach

We are proud to learn that our newest CD, “Blessed Art Thou among Women”- Peter Jermihov, Conductor, has been streamed in 65 countries around the world on Spotify – and growing!

In addition to the success of PaTRAM Institute’s newest CD, the music from our other CDs is being heard around the globe. There are about 190+ countries in the world, that means that over 30% of the countries around the globe have listened to our music. Amazing!

And….the accolades have not stopped.

On ArkivMusic, one of the retail outlets where our music is available, a listener wrote yet another positive review of the “Blessed Art Thou among Women” CD. Hershel Anderson states, “The combination of so many perfectly trained voices performing in an atmosphere with the slight echo of their voices that a church with beautiful acoustics provides is a listener’s joy“. Read his full review.

Thank you to each and every one of you who have listened, shared, or purchased our newest musical treasure. We appreciate your continued support!

Dr. Kurt Sander Posts His Review of PaTRAM’s “Blessed Art Thou among Women” CD

Dr. Kurt Sander, an accomplished music professor, vocalist and composer, has posted his own review of the “Blessed Art Thou among Women” CD.

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

 

Dr. Sander has been a long-time collaborator with the PaTRAM Institute™. It was his “Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom“, commissioned by PaTRAM, that went on to receive a Grammy nomination for Best Choral Performance this year. Many of the same singers contributed their talents to our new “Blessed Art Thou among Women” CD, under the baton of Maestro Peter Jermihov .

With his extensive musical knowledge, Dr. Sander provides his impressions of the recording stating: “The choral singing is some of the best you will find in this genre, either inside or outside of Russia.” He also shares interesting historical tidbits about the recorded pieces. For example, speaking of composer Georgy Sviridov, “This post-Revolution composer is primarily known in the West for his inspired secular choruses.”

We urge our readers to read Dr. Sander’s entire review and get his deep perspective of the music and the composers whose music is presented.

It is important to note that Dr. Sander played no part in the creation, performance or recording of the “Blessed…” CD. His review is completely independent of any collaboration with PaTRAM.

More Great Reviews Continue To Roll In For PaTRAM’s “Blessed Art Thou among Women”

Little by little PaTRAM Institute™ continues to garner extremely positive reviews from both critics and consumers alike, for its latest CD release, “Blessed Art Thou among Women.”

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

The prestigious global online classical music magazine, MusicWeb International, posted a review of the CD, by Marc Rochester, in its latest edition. Mr. Rochester was extremely pleased by the sound and performance opining:

“Frankly, this recording would be worth buying for this magical example of true profundo singing on its own, but, in their own way, every single track (including the opening burst of carillon bells from the St Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral’s bell-ringer, Peter Lukianov) is worth hearing.”

The “profundo” Mr. Rochester was referring to was PaTRAM’s very own Chairman, Alexis Lukianov, who can now count himself in the same league of rare vocalists called “Oktavists”. PaTRAM is very proud of our Chairman. Likewise, Mr. Lukianov’s nephew, Peter, was also mentioned for his uncommon, bell-ringing talents.

This past week the CD reached the NUMBER 1 spot, yet again, on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in the Opera & Vocal category.

Speaking of Amazon, a consumer of the CD, named Arvo, left a wonderful, and detailed, review of his overwhelming delight with the CD and its inside jacket. Seems Arvo was very taken by the beauty of the music and the back-story of its history and making.

So, the accolades continue for “Blessed Art Thou among Women” and we thank all those who have helped to make this happen.

More to come….

“Blessed Art Thou among Women” CD Maintains Top 10 On Amazon Music

Less than a month since its release and for the past two consecutive weeks, PaTRAM Institute’s newest CD, “Blessed Art Thou among Women”, continues to maintain its place on Amazon’s Hot New Releases (Opera & Vocal). Despite the fact that there are, almost hourly, changes to the CDs in this group, “Blessed Art Thou among Women” retains its place in the top 10 in this category.

For those friends of PaTRAM who purchased the CD on Amazon, we want to say THANK YOU and request you post your impressions of the CD on Amazon where you purchased it.

Our Facebook page has been lit up with interest after the posting of a second, full track from this CD. With over a thousand views and dozens of shares, it can be said this CD is well-received. With that in mind PaTRAM has posted this new video for general viewing, as well. We invite you to see the video of the track, “In the Flesh Thou Didst Fall Asleep” and hope you enjoy it.

“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.

“Blessed Art Thou among Women” CD Starting To Generate Buzz

After a successful launch on April 17, 2020, PaTRAM Institute’s newest CD, “Blessed Art Thou among Women”, now rates as #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases (Opera & Vocal). A lofty achievement in its first week of release.

Slowly, but surely, there is a buzz building for the record.

Another online publication, Oktavism.com, a publication “dedicated to Oktavist voice” (the lowest human vocal range) has posted a video, on their YouTube channel, highlighting some of the music and solo performances on the CD. So far, all the responses to it have been thumbs-up.

The CD is available at various online outlets all of which are listed on PaTRAM’s CD page along with a sample track from the CD.

PaTRAM Institute’s™ Newest CD “Blessed Art Thou among Women” Is Now Available For Purchase

The PaTRAM Institute™ has released its latest CD, “Blessed Art Thou among Women”, conducted by Maestro Peter Jermihov, and is available for for purchase or download.

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

The recording is a compilation of hymns to the Theotokos (Mother of God) that were among the favorites of the late Protopresbyter Valery Lukianov. This very special album is dedicated to Fr. Valery by PaTRAM Institute Chairman and Co-Founder, Alexis V. Lukianov, and his wife Katherine, Academy Director and also Co-Founder, who were the Executive Producers of the new album.

The CD was recorded at the St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral in Howell, NJ in August of 2018. The Cathedral was designed and built by Fr. Valery and is a well-known architectural masterpiece with excellent acoustics. Fr. Valery rests in peace behind this beloved church where his family, parishioners and the Orthodox faithful often come to pray and remember Fr. Valery’s kindness, wisdom and the spiritual nourishment he provided to so many for more than 50 years in service as a priest.

“Our singers performed beautifully to bring this great music to a broad audience and to showcase the gorgeous St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. Memory Eternal, Dad!” Mr. Lukianov said.

Be our guest and preview a very special video of music from the CD. Watch now.

The CD is now available for for purchase or download. Be the first hear our new album and enjoy the beautiful and deeply spiritual sound. This CD will make a wonderful gift for Pascha (April 19th).

PaTRAM Institute™ Announces Release of Newest CD

The PaTRAM Institute™ announced it will be releasing its latest CD, “Blessed Art Thou among Women”, conducted by Maestro Peter Jermihov, on April 17th, 2020.

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

The recording is a compilation of hymns to the Theotokos (Mother of God) that were among the favorites of the late Protopresbyter Valery Lukianov. This very special album is dedicated to Fr. Valery by PaTRAM Institute Chairman and Co-Founder, Alexis V. Lukianov, and his wife Katherine, Academy Director and also Co-Founder, who were the Executive Producers of the new album.

The CD was recorded at the St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral in Howell, NJ in August of 2018. The Cathedral was designed and built by Fr. Valery and is a well-known architectural masterpiece with excellent acoustics. Fr. Valery rests in peace behind this beloved church where his family, parishioners and the Orthodox faithful often come to pray and remember Fr. Valery’s kindness, wisdom and the spiritual nourishment he provided to so many for more than 50 years in service as a priest.

“Our singers performed beautifully to bring this great music to a broad audience and to showcase the gorgeous St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. Memory Eternal, Dad!” Mr. Lukianov said.

Be our guest and preview a track from the CD now. Listen now.

The CD is now available for pre-order. Be the first hear our new album and enjoy the beautiful and deeply spiritual sound. This CD will make a wonderful gift for Pascha (April 19th).

PaTRAM Institute™ Attends the 62nd Grammy Awards

On January 26th, we attended the 62nd Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. It was an honor to attend the event, walk the red carpet, and mingle with the talented nominees, who are so completely dedicated to their craft. Congratulations to the winner of this year’s award for Best Choral Performance, “Durufle: Complete Choral Works!”

Presentation of the Grammy for Best Choral Performance

Warm and heartfelt congratulations to Blanton Alspaugh, winner of this year’s Grammy award for Producer of the Year, Classical – these are back-to-back wins for Mr. Alspaugh! We are privileged to know and work with Blanton and his extraordinary team at Soundmirror, Inc.

Producer Blanton Alspaugh accepting his Grammy Award

We wish to thank our Executive Producers, Alex and Katya Lukianov; composer Kurt Sander; Maestro Peter Jermihov; our label, Reference Recordings; Blanton Alspaugh and his team at Soundmirror, Inc; and each of the brilliant choristers of the PaTRAM Institute Singers™ for their efforts in helping to create an exceptional, landmark CD! Bravo!

Executive Producer Katya Lukianov with her two daughters and one of the Founding Board Members of PaTRAM Institute

Several members of PaTRAM Institute attended this year’s awards ceremony in Los Angeles. Executive Producers Alex and Katya Lukianov and their two daughters; Maestro Peter Jermihov; Composer Kurt Sander; and soloist Vadim Gan, among other friends and family. What a night!

The Grammy Awards Premiere Ceremony

Executive Producers Alex and Katya Lukianov with soloist Vadim Gan

Combined (Australian and New York) ROCOR Mens Choir Perform in New York City Area

The Russian Orthodox Male Choir of Australia and the Tsar Nicholas II Choir merged together to perform as the ROCOR Mens Choir in three different church halls around the New York City area from December 19th thru December 22nd 2019. As a major sponsor of these events, PaTRAM Institute™ was proud to help these dedicated and driven individuals in their first public performances as a combined choir.

The project was not an easy effort. The two choirs had to overcome major financial and logistical issues to become a combined, in-sync collective of choristers. Nektary Kotlaroff, who leads the Russian Orthodox Male Choir of Australia, and Adrian Fekula, who directs the Tsar Nicholas II Choir in New York, planned for months to bring this effort to fruition. With help from PaTRAM™ as well as several other sources, the two conductors were able to connect with each other from half a world away. As a result of their tremendous efforts, the two choirs sounded as though they had sung together for months when in fact they only had a handful of live rehearsals together.

The concert repertoire consisted of both sacred and secular music, which they performed with great enthusiasm and skill. From the beautiful sound of Chesnokov’s and Tchaikovsky’s liturgical masterpieces to the legendary folk song, Volga Boatmen, approximately half the program was devoted to each of the two music genres.

On Thursday, December 19th, coinciding with the Feast Day of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, the ROCOR Mens Choir performed their program at the Church of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin & St. Sergius in Glen Cover, Long Island.

Friday, December 20th, saw the Choir move their performance to the Holy Virgin Protection Church in Nyack, NY. Those who attended were treated to a wonderful performance, which was received with great enthusiasm.

On Saturday, December 21st, the Choir sang the All-Night Vigil services at Synod Cathedral of the Sign Church in Manhattan, officiated by His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion (First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia) and His Grace Bishop Nicholas (of Manhattan and Vicar Bishop of the Diocese of Eastern America and New York). Following the service, the choir was invited by PaTRAM Chairman, Alex Lukianov, to his private club, the Grand Havana, on 5th Avenue midtown. The group celebrated the tour, and the Choir sang “Many Years” to Alex and his wife Katya for all their help and support.

Sunday, December 22nd, saw the culmination of the short tour by the ROCOR Mens Choir beginning with their singing the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, officiated by His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion and His Grace Bishop Nicholas. The service was followed by a wonderful Lenten meal provided by the Parish’s Sisterhood. After lunch, all were welcomed back into the main Cathedral to listen to the Choir perform their sacred music pieces for the attending Hierarchs and a large numbers of listeners. The day concluded with all in attendance welcomed back to the Church hall for wine, soft drinks and snacks along with big helping of folk songs, sung with great exuberance by the ROCOR Combined Mens Choir as the standing-room only crowd inspired them with traditional hand-clapping and whistling to the boisterous folk songs.

The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom Nominated for a Grammy Award

We are pleased to announce that The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom has been nominated for a Grammy award for Best Choral Performance! Our heartfelt congratulations to composer Kurt Sander; Maestro Peter Jermihov, Conductor; Executive Producers and singers Alex Lukianov and Katya Lukianov, and all of the members of the PaTRAM™ Institute Singers. We are honored and humbled to be nominated for the second year in a row and be counted among the foremost choral ensembles in the world!

We also wish to extend our warm congratulations to Producer, Blanton Alspaugh, on his nomination for Producer of the Year! Blanton produced The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom and our first Grammy-nominated CD, Teach Me Thy Statutes.

The 62nd Grammy Awards will be held in January 2020.

Click below to purchase The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom from various outlets:

Amazon

iTunes

Reference Recordings

Musica Russica

ArkivMusic