PaTRAM Institute™ – Day 12 of Epic Rachmaninoff CD Recording and Pilgrimage – The Final Day

Day 12 has arrived and with it the relief of having completed the difficult but fulfilling task of recording another Grammy hopeful. That remains to be seen but our mission is always focused on fostering and preserving the original splendor of Russian Orthodox choral music, with its astounding spiritual depth, and spreading the liturgical music of our church throughout the world. But today that’s all in the background. Today is Sunday and the first stop of the day is a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy in the Church of Mary Magdalene. The church is located in the Convent of Saint Mary Magdalene in the Garden of Gethsemane, also on the Mount of Olives, not too far from the choir’s host, the Eleon Monastery.

The beautiful gold onion domes of the church are unmistakable, their beauty shining forth as they glow in the Jerusalem sunshine. Once inside the church, it quickly becomes apparent that the interior is equal to the beauty of the exterior.

The Hierarchical service was very moving and heartfelt with the Male Choir, led by another singer from our group, Elias Dubelsten, reflecting those feelings with their beautiful and soulful singing.

After the service was completed all the singers and staff gathered in front of the stunning church to take a group photo.

The entire PaTRAM group, singers, staff and pilgrims, were all invited by Egumenia Elizaveta, the Abbess of the Convent, to attend a special Trapeza lunch. The Abbess (standing center) addressed the attendees and handed out commemorative gifts marking PaTRAM’s visit to the Convent. A very special moment.

After the lunch, as has become habit, the group boarded the bus again and began their trip to the open desert where they were about to be treated to something most common in the Middle East, a camel ride! The bus took the group past the wall, separating Israel from Palestine, and into the desert where the vistas were spectacular.

After driving about 45 mins or so, the group arrived at a bedouin camp run by locals. Their primary business is taking their clients for camel rides. After a short introduction to riding a camel, the guides helped seat people wanting to take the ride and took them for a short, 10-minute ride to Abraham’s tent.

The person playing “Abraham” gave a colorful history of the area and its Biblical past. One of our Australian choristers quickly recognized Abraham’s accent as Australian and when asked admitted that, indeed, he was Australian and has been working as “Abraham” for the past 24 years. Very interesting.

After the interesting meeting with “Abraham”, the group boarded the bus again for the final leg of today’s adventure, the closing banquet in a Bethlehem kebab restaurant. With its traditional bedouin tent look and low bench-seat tables, the restaurant presented the group with its menu of sauces, hummus, breads and, of course, chicken and meat kebab skewers.

There were speeches and presentations of gifts especially by PaTRAM Chairman Alex Lukianov who acknowledged the work of the producer, Blanton Alspaugh (left frame), conductor, Ekaterina Antonenko (2nd from left frame), on-the-ground logistics manager and guide, Father Roman Gultaev (2nd from right frame) and the PaTRAM staff (L-R, CEO, Tatiana Geringer, Personal Assistant for the Lukianovs, Natalia Prokopeca and Executive Director, Alex Milas), and thanked them for their efforts.

However, the most important people of note, without whom none of this would have happened and whose selfless support for the mission makes PaTRAM Institute what it is, Alex and Katya Lukianov. Their love for their Church, for the organization and for each other always shines through. Gorko!!!

And so, the group’s 12-day adventure comes to an end. Both happiness and melancholy frame the day. Happiness, in what the working group achieved, under some difficult circumstances, the new people met and the memories of a lifetime. Melancholy, in knowing that it’s over and the time has come for all of them to return to their regular lives.

With God’s help another adventure awaits!

Please be sure to follow us on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn) and this website where we will share updates and the progress of this CD, concert videos and all things PaTRAM.

PaTRAM Institute™ – Days 8-11 of Epic Rachmaninoff CD Recording and Pilgrimage – The Recording Days

Refreshed and rested, Day 8 began with the arranging of the choir in the Ascension church to bring out the best sound. The Soundmirror engineering team determined that the building had too much echo and, as such, had to reduce it to be less noticeable while still contributing to the overall sound. To avoid any impact to the church’s interior, wires were strung between windows and blankets hung over the wires, effectively creating a sound room but with the natural acoustics produced by the church’s architecture.

The day outside was typical of Jerusalem and that area of the world, HOT! The sun shown down on the Mount of Olives with it usual force.

As such the rehearsals had more frequent breaks so that the choir could hydrate and reduce the vocal strain while Soundmirror could adjust the sound to optimum recording standards. The recording’s producer, multi-Grammy winner, Blanton Alspaugh discussed the nuances with conductor, Ekaterina Antonenko, during those breaks.

The “dress rehearsal” day was complete and the Soundmirror team, along with Ms. Antonenko and singers, listened to the sample recordings in the makeshift control room that would, starting tomorrow, become the eventual CD itself.

The ensemble is now ready to lay down the final tracks for the CD.

Day 9 was another eventful day as the choir and the recording team recorded the first 5 pieces of the 15-piece repertoire. The work was difficult but fulfilling as the first tracks of the CD were completed.

Day 10 began with a panihida service, at the Trapeznaya Church on the grounds of the Eleon Monastery, to remember the 40th day of the repose of His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. The solemn but heartwarming service was sung by the PaTRAM Men’s Choir and conducted by one of our own singers, Vadim Gan.

After the service, it was back to work for the choir and Soundmirror to record the next 5 tracks for the CD.

Day 11, the final day of recording for the team. Coupled with a little anxiety, the group was very optimistic that this final day would “seal the deal”, as they say, and bring to fruition all the hard work that went into this recording. Once the end was reached, the entire team (choir, staff and Soundmirror) all posed for a group photo next to the Ascension Church.

As wonderful as the choir was, as a whole, the soul of the group was their amazing Oktavist section. They’re the ones who provide the depth on this recording showcased under Ms. Antonenko’s direction.

L-R, Vasilii Korostelev, Ilia Laptev, Elias Dubelsten, Alex Lukianov, Ekaterina Antonenko, Glenn Miller, Viacheslav Prutskikh, Chris Mallory and Jason Thoms

All of this being said, it’s still not over! One more day is still to come. One more adventure to be had.

PaTRAM Institute™ – Day 5 of Epic Rachmaninoff CD Recording and Pilgrimage

Day 5, a Sunday, started out with the choir checking out of their hotel in Jerusalem and boarding the bus for the trip to the Ascension Church, on the Mount of Olives, to sing and attend the Hierarchical services and pray that all will be well in the group’s second half of the day. The trip to Nazareth.

On the road to Nazareth there are other sites to see, too. The group stopped at the scenic overlook from where one can see the valley where Armageddon is and where the Final Judgement will be passed.

The town of Nazareth, the city where Jesus spent the first 12 years of his life, is built into a mountain which climbs high above the Jezreel valley below. Nazareth is known as the “Arab capital of Israel” and most of them are Christian, although the Muslim and Jewish faiths, too, are well-represented and everyone lives peacefully together.

Once in Nazareth, the group saw some of the ancient sites there including the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation and it’s beautiful interior and iconostasis. It is situated near the Catholic Church of the Annunciation where Archangel Gabriel was said to have descended to announce to the Virgin Mary that She will bear the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ.

Towards the evening the choir arrived at the Church of Christ the Adolescent. A Salesian Catholic church built on top of one of Nazareth’s hills overlooking the city. It is the only church in the world named as such, although the pastor did mention another is in planning to be built.

It is here the choir will perform the “All-Night Vigil” for the second and last time on this Holy Land adventure. The church is an incredible juxtaposition of sights. Walking in you see a cavernous, white stone interior with high vaulted ceilings. Turn around to the entrance and you’ll see a magical view of Nazareth and the valley below.

The choir began the performance just after 7pm, local time, and there was an good showing of visitors and locals. Of course, His Grace Bishop Theodosy and His Grace Bishop Nicholas were with the choir, too.  The performance was wonderful and the cathedral’s acoustics gave their sound a deep and rich color. Maestro Antonenko showed the same grace and control in leading the group tonight as she did in Jerusalem.

The performance was extremely well-received and most all of the audience was enthralled. It culminated in an short encore that further excited the crowd who gave the ensemble, Ms. Antonenko and soloists Evgeny Kachurovsky and Igor Morozov a tremendous ovation.

After the performance it was back on the road again to the Sea of Galilee. The performances being complete, it was time for the group to become pilgrims and travel to the Holy Sites there.

PaTRAM Institute™ – Day 4 of Epic Rachmaninoff CD Recording and Pilgrimage

Day 4 was first of two BIG days for the choir because today was a performance day! Yes. Today there were no pilgrimages only the business of singing.

After 3 days of rehearsing, both at the Eleon Monastery and, yesterday, at the Notre Dame Hall the group was almost ready for performance.

Day 4 started with a nice breakfast at the hotel followed by a walk across the street to the sister property with the same name as our hotel, the Notre Dame Concert Hall.

There was lots of running around by the staff, preparing for the concert, while the ensemble was doing their sound check in preparation for the performance at 11am. An afternoon concert was not possible because the attending clergy would have had a difficult time getting back to their parishes and monasteries in time for their evening vigils as most start around 4pm, “monastery” time. Monasteries, in Jerusalem, do not recognize Daylight Savings Time and, therefore, run 1-hour EARLIER.

Although doors-open time was 10:45, people were gathering around the entrance of the theater an hour before performance time to get in. There was a real interest in see what the PaTRAM Male Choir™  was all about.

Finally, the audience was let in and seated.

The audience included many clergy including the Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Holiness Theofilos III (front row center), who kindly gave His blessing to PaTRAM to perform in Jerusalem.

After the Hierarchy were acknowledged, the choir filed out on to the stage followed by their conductor, Maestro Ekaterina Antonenko.

Once the choir was on stage the emcee for the performance, PaTRAM CEO Tatiana Geringer, read her introduction of the group and noted the fact that this was an original arrangement of Rachmaninoff’s “All-Night Vigil” for Male Choir.

After the introduction, the choir began singing the Rachmaninoff masterpiece. As the choir began to sing “Bless the Lord, O My Soul”, baritone soloist Evgeny Kachurovsky took center stage to sing the very moving solo .

Shortly after Mr. Kachurovsky’s solo, the Male Choir’s other soloist, tenor Igor Morozov, took to center stage to sing the solo in “Gladsome Light”. Mr. Morozov would go on to sing solos in “Lord, Now Lettest Thou” and “Blessed Art Thou, O Lord”, later in the program.

The entire performance was brought together by the focused and determined efforts of Maestro Ekaterina Antonenko. Her emotional conducting of this masterpiece was clearly visible.

As the “All-Night Vigil” performance ended with a standing ovation and encore, Ms. Antonenko was presented with flowers by Fr. Roman Gultaev, PaTRAM’s local guide and logistics support person.

Once all the accolades were completed and the crowd began to leave, the choir assembled onstage to take photos with the clerical Hierarchs: His Holiness, Patriarch Theofilos III (center), His Grace, Bishop Theodosy of Seattle (left) and His Grace, Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan (center).

Later that day, evening vigil was served at the Ascension Church (where the choir will be recording their CD next week). The administration of PaTRAM and several of the singers were invited to an excellent dinner with the Abbess of the Convent, Egumenia Varvara to celebrate the All-Saints Feast day and the Choir’s work at the Monastery.

Another exhausting but spiritually satisfying day!! But….it’s not over!

PaTRAM Institute™ – Day 2 of Epic Rachmaninoff CD Recording and Pilgrimage

What a fantastic start to Day 2 of PaTRAM Institute’s CD recording and pilgrimage. Today started with a visit to Bethlehem. Bethlehem is in Palestine, an independent nation, so there was a border to cross which, thank God, went by without incident. The choir gathered in the courtyard of the Church of the Nativity. The birthplace of Jesus Christ!

Father Roman Gultaev led the group into the church, through a four-foot high stone opening and into the great church itself with it’s unbelievably intricate and beautiful iconastasis (shown later in this story) and down a set of stone steps, to another four-foot high stone opening, into the cramped but beautiful cave where Jesus Christ was born. As the group gathered, the morning Divine Liturgy began with the choir (led by one of PaTRAM’s choristers, Elias Dubelsten) singing and the liturgy being read in Greek, Arabic and Slavonic. Amazing!

With the blessing of the Metropolitan of Bethlehem, His Eminence Benedict (center), and the bishops accompanying PaTRAM™, Bishop Theodosy of Seattle and Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, all celebrated the very special and unique service, mere feet from where Jesus was born! Imagine that! The man who changed the world forever was born right here. To the hierarchs’ left, out of the picture-as there are too many people venerating it to get a good photo-is the manger where the Most Holy Theotokos, the Virgin Mary nestled Her Son the baby Jesus. One’s eye’s burst with amazement at the thought of what happened here!

The pinnacle of the visit to the Nativity cave, after the Liturgy, was the veneration of the Star that signified the exact spot where Jesus was born to the Most Holy Theotokos. All believers were given the unbelievable honor to genuflect to their knees, reach their heads into the fireplace-sized opening and kiss the Star where Jesus Christ, Our Savior, was born. The impact that has on one’s soul is inexplicable and the only way to experience that feeling is to have gone there in-person! A tremendous honor.

After the Liturgy, the group, and the three hierarchs, were invited back into the main church to pose for a group photo under the majestic, gold, 3+story iconostasis and its intricate carvings and iconography. Stunningly beautiful!

His Eminence, Metropolitan Benedict of Bethlehem invited all the pilgrims to have coffee, tea and sweets in the unique, arched stone meeting room adjacent to the Church of the Nativity. It was a wonderful gesture by the Metropolitan to invite everyone to his personal meeting room and show his support and give His blessing to the PaTRAM Institute Male Choir™ and accompanying pilgrims.

Then, the bus ride back to the Eleon Monastery for rehearsal in the Trapeznaya Church. The same church that is 150 meters from where the Ascension took place! And also, 50 feet from where the head of St. John the Baptist was discovered and a church erected on the site. Lunch-fueled and inspired by all the Holy places they visited and were near to, the choir continued to improve and grow under the steady hand of Maestro Ekaterina Antonenko.

More to share later…..

PaTRAM Institute™ Male Choir Embarks On Epic Rachmaninoff CD Recording and Pilgrimage

After many delays from COVID and other logistical issues over the past 2 years PaTRAM Institute has finally been able to begin their epic recording of Rachmaninoff’s “All Night Vigil” in Jerusalem, Israel. The new arrangement, for male choir, is the first ever recorded.

We will chronicle, in photos and text, on PaTRAM’s website and their social media outlets, the journey that began on June 15th, 2022 in Jerusalem.

After a harrowing day of travel from different cities around the world, all the singers came together in Jerusalem at the Notre Dame Hotel. A beautiful 19-century creation, it stands overlooking Jerusalem with great views of the old city right across the street. The singers and staff all gathered on the rooftop of the hotel with their guide, Fr. Roman Gultaev, who explained all the sites the group was seeing.

After taking photos and getting the lay of the land, the choir boarded a bus and were driven, across the city they just saw from a bird’s-eye view, up to the Mount of Olives where Jesus Himself walked. The group walked the sacred grounds of the Eleon monastery to the Ascension Church deep inside the fenced-in grounds.

The choir and staff were greeted by Archimandrite Roman Krassovsky, who heads the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem (ROCOR). Fr. Roman served a moleben to help the choristers in their quest.

The services were attended by Bishop Theodosy of Seattle and Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan both of whom traveled with the choir to pray for them and to support the mission of PaTRAM.

After the moleben the group was escorted by Father Roman Gultaev to the trapeznaya church just past the Ascension church where they sang the moleben.

The choir was seated in the arranged vocal groupings created by Maestro Ekaterina Antonenko, in her first conducting effort for PaTRAM.

At lunch, the group was visited by the Abbess Varvara in support of their efforts. So, despite the stress and strain of travel the prior day the choir was able to rehearse the full day and at the end of today, tired and hungry, they took the first steps toward a successful recording.

The day ended around 6:30 local time. Sore and tired, the choir diligently cleaned up after themselves, leaving the trapeznaya clean and tidy. They picked up their scores and backpacks and walked back to the waiting bus for the trip back to the Notre Dame to have dinner and relax.

They walked past the Ascension Church, where they will record the CD the following week, once again. The Church shined in its beauty from the top of the Mount of Olives looking over Jerusalem.

More to come tomorrow…

Don’t Miss the PaTRAM Institute™ Christmas CD Special!

Still looking for that special gift for your friends and family? Something that moves your soul?

This Christmas, give them the gift of music from the PaTRAM™ CD catalog, ALL of which are included in this EXCLUSIVE Christmas CD Special!

By giving the gift of PaTRAM music you are bringing the joy of Orthodox music into the homes of your family and friends. You are also helping our non-profit organization achieve its mission to preserve and foster the music of the Orthodox Church! It’s 2 gifts in one!

PaTRAM is offering the entire catalog of PaTRAM CDs at 25% off PLUS FREE Shipping! This offer is not available anywhere else. Please click to order.

Meanwhile, all of us at the PaTRAM Institute would like to wish all our subscribers, friends and followers a most wonderful and joyous Christmas!

PaTRAM Institute™ Celebrates the Feast Day of the Kursk Root Icon With A Special Gift To Our Subscribers

“SECRET TRACK” revealed! 

Greetings on the Feast Day of the Wonderworking Kursk Root Mother of God “of the Sign.” Today, PaTRAM Institute has an early Christmas gift for all our subscribers! PaTRAM™ would like to sincerely thank our loyal friends and supporters and hope you will enjoy a very special, never-before-released gift: the “secret track” of the Troparion to the Kursk Root Mother of God of the Sign.

The Troparion was recorded by the PaTRAM Institute Male Choir™ in Saratov, Russia in 2019. During our time in Saratov, the 725-year old Wonderworking Kursk Root icon, accompanied by His Grace Bishop Nicholas, visited the remote city and brought with her the divine inspiration to record the “More Honourable than the Cherubim” album, released in July of this year. However, the Troparion does not appear on the album.

Today, for the FIRST TIME and on this wonderful feast day, it is our great pleasure to bring you this beautiful hymn.

We thank you for your continued support and wish you a joyous holiday season!

PaTRAM Institute™ Announces Limited Time Christmas CD Special Sale

Searching for the PERFECT GIFT?

PaTRAM™ would like to make your gift giving easy with special pricing and free shipping on all CDs just in time for the holidays!

This offer is not available anywhere else.

Order DIRECTLY from PaTRAM and receive:

  • 25% off all our world-class CDs!
  • FREE SHIPPING within the US only
  • Offer expires January 7, 2022

The GIFT OF MUSIC is something your loved ones will cherish during the holiday season and for many years to come. Get it for yourself or send it directly to someone as a gift!

Click CD ORDER FORM and place your order today!

*Would you like to purchase CDs for your store? PaTRAM offers deep discounts. Please contact us at info@patraminstitute.org for wholesale purchases.

Not located in the US? You can still enjoy our heavenly music on Spotify, Amazon, Apple Music, iTunes and wherever music is sold.

Wishing you health and happiness, and may beautiful music fill your home.

PaTRAM™ Hits Number One on the Amazon New Releases Chart For Opera & Vocal

We’re number ONE!

PaTRAM Institute is proud to announce that their latest CD, “More Honourable than the Cherubim”, has risen to NUMBER ONE on Amazon’s Hot New Releases rankings for Opera & Vocal!

Thank you, again, VERY much for your support!

The Making of “More Honourable than the Cherubim”: A Video Review

Like all other CDs recorded by artists, each has a history that influenced the sound and other pertinent elements that eventually became the final product. PaTRAM Institute™ would like to share with our supporters and listeners the story behind their latest recording, “More Honourable than the Cherubim”.

Recorded in Saratov, Russia in August 2019 at the St Nicholas Monastery Church, this CD recording pushed the PaTRAM Male Choir to its limits. Through summer heat and humidity, with closed windows and no air conditioning, this group of singers not only persevered but triumphed under challenging circumstances.

With the guidance and spiritual inspiration that the Wonderworking Kursk Root Icon provided to the group, Conductor Maestro Vladimir Gorbik molded the notes on paper into the beautiful, prayerful and deep sound that is heard throughout the CD.

Globally, critics laud it. Listeners are taken aback by its amazingly rich and soulful sound, posting reviews of its impact on them. PaTRAM Institute was inspired to share the hymn “It Is Truly Meet” (<<Достойно есть>>) as the backdrop to a summarized story of the making of this CD. Just click on the image below.

We hope you enjoy the video and urge you to look to the CD’s booklet where you’ll find background information about this hymn and other interesting information about all the masterpieces on the album.

Please consider purchasing “More Honourable than the Cherubim” via any of the mainstream classical music outlets. Additionally, we ask that when you do, please post a review about the CD which many of the outlets provide, particularly Amazon. This will help PaTRAM Institute’s chances for a Grammy nomination, which will bring attention to the music of our Church to the world!

Thank you to ALL our supporters, listeners and subscribers! This doesn’t happen without your help!

ANNOUNCING: PaTRAM’S NEW ALBUM, “More Honourable than the Cherubim”, to be released JULY 30! MARK YOUR CALENDARS!

PaTRAM CD More Honourable than the Cherubim - Coming July 30th

The highly anticipated, international PaTRAM Male Choir™ album entitled, “More Honourable than the Cherubim”, will be released on JULY 30! PaTRAM’s newest musical offering, honoring the Most Holy Virgin Mary, the Lady Theotokos, is a unique program selected from a vast array of hymns, which have inspired composers and comforted the hearts of the faithful in times of both celebration and tribulation.

In 2019 the Grammy award nominated PaTRAM Institute Male Choir, comprised of 56 vocalists, hailing from five countries, traveled to distant Saratov, Russia and coalesced in an inspired collaboration of orthodox faith and sacred music for worship. The choir achieved a sound so deeply beautiful and moving, that local residents huddled outside the recording venue and on balconies of adjacent buildings in hopes of hearing the heavenly and exquisite music coming from inside the church.

To showcase the full range of the Choir’s potential, the album features an unprecedented 9-member section of the lowest naturally occurring voices – the bassi profundi, complemented by the heavenly voices of first tenors. The deep, unparalleled sound of the oktavists resembles the roll of thunder across the vast Russian steppe.

The choir drew divine inspiration from the 725-year-old Wonderworking Kursk Root Mother of God of the Sign Icon, which was granted special permission to travel with the PaTRAM Institute Male Choir to Saratov, Russia. During our time in this remote city, more than 18,000 pilgrims venerated the holy and ancient icon. It was a glorious sight to behold as long-time believers and those new to the faith stood patiently to pray in the presence of the magnificent relic.

This release was recorded and mastered by the talented team at Soundmirror, whose outstanding orchestral, solo, opera and chamber recordings have received more than 100 Grammy® nominations and awards. For over 40 years, Soundmirror has recorded for every major classical record label, including our new Grammy award winning label, Chandos Records. PaTRAM Institute co-founders Alexis and Katherine Lukianov served as Executive Producers.

We cannot wait to share this new recording with you and trust you will enjoy absorbing the music as much as we enjoyed preparing it!

“More Honourable than the Cherubim” is the Record of the MONTH! We invite you to read the feature story about our history-making album in this month’s Chandos Records Newsletter and enjoy photographs and even A SAMPLE of the music!

GREAT NEWS! This unique recording is available to PRE-ORDER from Chandos Records NOW!