PaTRAM™ Goes To Serbia With 2021 In Sight – Part II

As their scouting mission to Serbia continued, the team advanced in their efforts exploring venues and meeting key people to help PaTRAM plan and arrange the ambitious undertaking of a CD recording and multi-city concerts.

DAY 4:

The PaTRAM team was grateful and truly humbled to have an audience with the Patriarch of Serbia, His Holiness Irinej, who blessed our concert tour and recording project in 2021. His Holiness welcomed the team to His office to discuss plans. Though the team had other meetings and discussions, this was the highlight of the day!

DAY 5:

The team attended the Holy Virgin Protection Divine Liturgy at the St. John the Baptist Church, which is still under construction. After the services were over, the team was invited to visit with Bishop Irinej Bachsky who welcomed them to the beautiful city of Novi Sad, and blessed a concert in this city.

From Novi Sad it was on to the 13th century Archangels Michael and Gabriel Cathedral and Monastery in Kovilj, a suburb of Novi Sad. The monastery is a 1500 acre property. There is the beautifully painted Cathedral with its high vaulted ceiling as well as an apiary, bakery, rakiya distillery and farm. The bakery is easily seen with its unique chimney.

They ended the day with a visit to Sremski Karlovci, where the St. Nicholas Cathedral stands with its beautiful and tall iconostasis. Afterwards, it was on to Grgeteg Monastery with a Wonderworking icon of the Theotokos and the team being greeted by the Egumena and resident nuns.

DAY 6:

ASTOUNDING St George’s Church, also known as Oplenac (Опленац), is the mausoleum of the Serbian and Yugoslav royal house of Karađorđević located on top of the Oplenac Hill in the town of Topola, Serbia. The church of Oplenac was founded by King Peter I of Yugoslavia. Many members of the royal house are buried in the church, in the crypt beneath the church, or in the church yard.

40 MILLION, various colored pieces of glass which have 15 thousand different varieties of color create a vivid artistic and deeply spiritual impression.

The next post on these pages will present the conclusion of this sojourn in beautiful Serbia. We hope you’ll visit again and continue enjoying the trip with our team.

PaTRAM™ Goes To Serbia With 2021 In Sight

After careful consideration and weighing the options of how best to achieve the recording of PaTRAM’s next landmark CD, Rachmaninoff’s “All-Night Vigil”, to be sung by a 60 member all-male choir under the leadership of Maestro Vladimir Gorbik, we have decided to produce the album in magnificent SERBIA. Additionally, a live concert tour and the singing of Divine Liturgies in several Serbian cities are on the slate along with the recording.

With the blessings of the key hierarchs of the Russian and Serbian Orthodox Churches and through the tireless work of our partners in Serbia, most notably Milan Acimovic (conductor of the Belgrade Choir), the PaTRAM executives embarked on a 10-day scouting mission in Serbia.

Co-Founder and Chairman, Alexis Lukianov; CEO, Tatiana Geringer, and Co-Founder and Artistic Director, Katya Lukianov, visited Serbia and neighboring Bosnia, scouting out locations and laying the groundwork with government authorities, church hierarchs and clergy, music industry representatives and other partners for PaTRAM’s plans to record their CD and perform in front of live audiences at several different venues around the country. With invaluable assistance from Mr. Acimovic and Deacon Vladimir Rumenic, who were both singers on PaTRAM’s upcoming CD, “More Honorable Than the Cherubim”, and new friends and partners, the group had an extremely busy schedule but was also able to make pilgrimages to a variety of different Orthodox sites.

We will share highlights of their journey, which began on October 9th, in the coming weeks in this space. We also invite you to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn to see more stunning photos, learn about our trip and our exciting plans for 2021.

DAY 1:

The PaTRAM team arrived in Belgrade on October 10th and began their pilgrimage to holy sites in the Serbian capital. Still under construction and, as such, not allowing photography inside the building, the magnificent St. Sava Cathedral is clearly an architectural beauty. The interior features incredible mosaics and should be completed soon. The team was allowed into the completed lower level of St. Sava’s where services are already being held.

Also on the agenda was a visit to St. Mark’s Cathedral. Another architectural beauty that is actually the new version of the original, wooden church (built in 1835). The “new” church was built during WWII (1931-40) and divine services begun in 1941.

The day was not complete without a visit to ancient Kalemegdan Fortress and Park with panoramic views of the new city and the convergence of the Danube and Sava Rivers.

DAY 2:

The day began with the team attending Divine Liturgy services at the beautiful St. Alexander Nevsky church in Belgrade. Alex and Katya Lukianov sang the Divine Liturgy with the all-male and mixed choirs. The original church was built in 1877 and enlarged in the early 1920s, delayed by WWI in the late 1910s. It was completed in the late 1920s.

Also, on the agenda was a trip to Miljkovo Monastery where St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco was tonsured. This is important because, as many of our readers know, it was St. John, who ordained Father Valery Lukianov, Alex’s Lukianov’s father and to whom PaTRAM’s current CD “Blessed Art Thou among Women”, is dedicated. It was a real blessing for the PaTRAM team to visit the 15-century monastery and venerate St. John’s relics.

A surprise on the agenda was a late evening visit to Tumane Monastery, which houses the relics of both St. Zosim and St. Iakov as well as a Wonderworking Kursk Mother of God icon. We learned that 10,000 pilgrims had visited the monastery that day and immediately decided that we too would return in June with our choir to sing Liturgy in this very holy place. It was too dark to photograph this beautiful 14th-century monastery, but here are some photos from their website.

DAY 3:

PaTRAM CEO describes, “Serbia-Croatia-Bosnia! An incredible journey to neighboring Bosnia via Croatia. The team arrives to beautiful Banjaluka. The photos are of the newly built Christ the Savior Cathedral housing the most incredibly beautiful mosaics we have seen. This was a labor of love and deep prayer. The Cathedral was rebuilt after the original Cathedral was destroyed in WW2. Meeting with the Deputy Mayor and his colleagues not featured in this post. We are awaiting the official photos. Banjaluka is a place of where one feels welcome from the first moment. We cannot wait to return and share our music!

Follow us on these pages in the coming weeks as we travel with the PaTRAM team through other parts of Serbia and Bosnia.


PaTRAM Institute™ Hosts Producers Circle Dinner 2020

PaTRAM Institute™ held its Producers Circle Dinner 2020 on Thursday, September 24, 2020 in Florida at the beachfront home of its co-founders, Alex and Katya Lukianov. This event is held once a year to raise donations for PaTRAM’s professional and educational programs. This year “A Taste of Russia” was the predominant theme of our event with table settings of matrioshki dolls, amazingly delicious hors d’oeuvres of black caviar and dozens of other Russian appetizers, a dinner menu of chicken Kiev and salmon pastry and, of course, vodka.

On the deck overlooking the beautiful Atlantic Ocean, with its warm breezes, our wonderful supporters enjoyed all the amenities of this event. Music was provided by a Russian duet playing and singing traditional Russian songs. There were vodka tastings of 4 different kinds of vodka, two of which were hand-infused by our very own Katya Lukianov and CEO, Tatiana Geringer, cherry and honey-horseradish, respectively.

Photos courtesy of Javier Cordova, Sanya Lukianov and Tatiana Geringer

Cocktail hour started the festivities with guests helping themselves to delicious appetizers and vodka and the air filled with traditional Russian music. The beach felt more like a luxury resort in Russia than Florida. On a day when rain threatened the outdoor event throughout the day, the skies became gloriously clear for the duration of event with the rain returning just as our guests were leaving. Impeccable timing.

After dinner, all the guests were invited inside the Lukianov residence and PaTRAM CEO, Tatiana Geringer, narrated an interesting PowerPoint slide show highlighting PaTRAM’s accomplishments, next year’s “Russian Cross” concert in Moscow and the CD recording and concert tour in Serbia, featuring various exciting sponsor opportunities available to our donors.

Photos courtesy of Javier Cordova, Sanya Lukianov and Tatiana Geringer

As part of the presentation, Mr. Greg Soufleris, a twice Associate Executive Producer of PaTRAM’s previous two CDs, spoke to the group about his experience during last year’s Russia tour, how it affected him personally and the wonderful experience that it was. PaTRAM is grateful for his support. Mr. Soufleris, appropriately, was presented with the Platinum Patron of the Year Award for his generous support of PaTRAM Institute and the advancement of the cultural arts.

PaTRAM also recognized Hightower Advisors, LLC represented by Mr. David Molnar and Mr. Drew Nordlicht, who accepted the Silver Patron of the Year Award for their company’s generous support of PaTRAM Institute and the advancement of the cultural arts.

Not to be forgotten, the evening’s other two awards were presented to Maestro Vladimir Gorbik and Natasha Shaginian-Needham. Maestro Gorbik (who was unable to attend due to Russia’s COVID travel restrictions) received the PaTRAM Institute Musical Excellence Award for unwavering dedication to the mission of PaTRAM Institute and the advancement of the Russian cultural arts. Ms. Shaginian-Needman received the PaTRAM Institute Great Humanitarian Award for championing children with special needs and establishing programs that realize their dreams of walking. Ms. Shaginian-Needham heads the Life In Motion children’s charity that works with Russian children with physical disabilities to help them get the prosthetics and physical therapy they need to improve their lives.

Photos courtesy of Javier Cordova, Sanya Lukianov and Tatiana Geringer

Photo courtesy of Javier Cordova

In closing the presentation, Mr. Lukianov thanked his guests and donors for their support and startled the entire assembly with a surprise development. An anonymous donor had offered PaTRAM a dollar-for-dollar match of $50,000 BUT with a “catch”. The catch was that PaTRAM needed to raise $40,000 ABOVE OR BEYOND the approximately $60,000 that was raised at this event. Simply speaking, $100,000 had to be raised before the anonymous donor will match with their $50,000. It’s an all-or-nothing offer!


Photo courtesy of Javier Cordova

The evening ended with cigars, from Mr. Lukianov’s personal collection, and good deal of chatting and interfacing between guests and the PaTRAM leadership. Everyone greatly enjoyed the evening even as the rain, that had threatened the event all day, came back as our guests were leaving. But no one seemed to mind.

If you’d like to be a part of the next event, in 2021, please let us know. We would be honored to have you as our guest.

If you’d like to donate to PaTRAM, and help us meet our anonymous donor’s matching offer of $50,000, we urge you to go to our DONATE page. Every dollar gets us closer to that match! Time is of the essence to reach our goal and receive the $50,000 match. Please give what you can TODAY! Donors and sponsors MAKE THE MUSIC HAPPEN.

Part 4: The Future of Sacred Music – One Man’s Story – Looking Forward

With the support of the PaTRAM Institute™ and other sponsors, Nektary assembled the Combined ROCOR Male Choir consisting of just over fifty singers from Australia, America, Canada, and the United Kingdom. In December 2019, the choir performed three concerts in the New York City area and sang two hierarchical services in the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign with His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion and His Grace Bishop Nicholas officiating. PaTRAM™ Chairman and Co-Founder, Alexis V. Lukianov, sang in Nektary’s choir as one of the oktavists.

While in New York, Nektary had the opportunity to sit down with Alex and Katya Lukianov to talk about the future, and not just about the future of Nektary’s choir, but his own personal future as a singer, composer, and conductor. To further the spread and development of the sacred choral arts, PaTRAM is always seeking people like Nektary who are not only talented but deeply passionate and devoted to sacred music and their faith. With PaTRAM’s help, Nektary will have continuing support in his musical education to further develop his own innate talents.

Nektary is currently receiving conducting lessons from Maestro Benedict Sheehan and continuing his work with the Russian Orthodox Male Choir of Australia. Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, the choir was still able to virtually enter the Moscow Multicultural Music Festival which is an annual festival that consists of hundreds of choirs from Russia and beyond competing for the top prizes.

Video PaTRAM Those Were the Days my Friends

Nektary’s own original arrangement of the folk composition, “Those Were the Days My Friend” (click on above image) was awarded the prize of “Winner of the 1st Degree” and the choir’s other entry, a performance of “Kyrie Eleison” which was a composition by Patriarch Ilya II of Georgia, received the Grand Prize award as the best piece in the competition. The Russian Orthodox Male Choir of Australia was also invited to perform at the 100-year celebration of ROCOR and the commemoration of the Holy Royal Martyrs which was held at the prestigious Queen Victoria Building in Sydney, an event that was televised in Russia. The choir is planning on recording a Folk Song CD at the end of this year for release in 2021.

If you enjoyed reading this story and seeing how the future of sacred choral music is being sustained and invigorated by PaTRAM Institute and young, talented musicians like Nektary, please consider supporting our Aspiring Church Musician Online Training Scholarship program. There are many dedicated church conductors and singers currently awaiting the opportunity to study with our Master Teachers and improve their skills and knowledge.

The goal is $2000, which will help further Nektary’s education and allow a new student to begin lessons with a PATRAM Master Teacher.  Your generous donation will provide online lessons and the encouragement necessary for students to achieve their personal best.

We believe Nektary and others like him are the future of Orthodox music. Please help support the educational programs which nurture church musicians and allow them to create beautiful and prayerful singing to the Glory of God.

Your donation is tax-deductible and thanks to generous support from the Lukianov Family Foundation, which covers all our administrative costs and overhead, 100% of your donation will go directly to funding talented church musicians and creating educational opportunities to sustain the development of choirs around the world for years to come. We thank you for your support!

Part 3: The Future of Sacred Music – One Man’s Story – PaTRAM™ Supports Nektary’s Journey


Last summer, PaTRAM Institute™ assembled a fifty-six member male choir, including an unprecedented ten oktavists, in Saratov, Russia to record our next CD title, “More Honorable than the Cherubim.” Young Nektary Kotlaroff was among this talented group of singers.

This was Nektary’s first opportunity to be part of a professional CD recording and to work with the team that created and produced PaTRAM Institute’s other Grammy-nominated CDs. While in Saratov, Nektary also participated in the choir’s standing-room only public concert performance which was attended by the governor and the minister of culture.

The trip also gave him another opportunity to sing with the Patriarchal Choir of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow, the first time being his previous trip to Russia in 2018 where he met Maestro Vladimir Gorbik. Nektary also sang with the Danilov Monastery Male Choir in the Dormition Cathedral on the feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God with Patriarch Kirill serving.

As if those opportunities weren’t enough, Nektary’s trip to Saratov also allowed him to find additional support and funding from PaTRAM for a project he’d been working on since the end of 2018. With the support of Bishop George of Canberra, in early 2019 Nektary officially created the Russian Orthodox Male Choir of Australia, a choir of just over twenty male choristers.

The creation of the choir gave Nektary the opportunity to begin composing and arranging Russian, Ukrainian and Serbian folk songs for the choir to perform at concerts, with the goal that the choir’s folk repertoire eventually be all original arrangements and compositions so that they develop their own unique sound, image, and style. Nektary also had the idea to take the male choir on tour to New York to collaborate with American male singers.

While Nektary certainly didn’t lack for enthusiasm, passion, and vision, he needed more than that to make all these dreams a reality. He needed to come up with the funds to not only arrange an overseas tour, but also to make the connections and find the support to make it happen from half a world away.

Through his efforts in Australia, Nektary was able to gather almost enough support for his Choir’s US Tour. In PaTRAM, Nektary found the additional support he was looking for and more. Returning to Australia after the Saratov recording refreshed and invigorated, Nektary officially got underway with planning a 2019 New York tour for the Russian Orthodox Male Choir of Australia.

Part 2: The Future of Sacred Music – One Man’s Story

Last week, we shared with you the first part of our story featuring Nektary Kotlaroff, an exemplary young singer, conductor, and composer. Please click here to read Chapter 1 if you missed it.

Chapter 2: 

In February 2017, Nektary Kotloraff conducted his first male choir Liturgy at Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Sydney, Australia. Of the experience Nektary wrote that, “I felt that during that Liturgy, we had glorified God to our fullest potential from the bottom of our hearts, minds and souls.” The performance was recorded and uploaded to Youtube.

Not long after that, Nektary found PaTRAM Institute™ on social media and saw a post about Vladimir Gorbik. Nektary connected with Maestro Gorbik on Facebook and sent him the link to the first male choir Liturgy. Maestro Gorbik then offered to do conducting lessons with Nektary via Skype. Four months later, Nektary’s family took a trip to Moscow where he met Maestro Gorbik in person. Maestro Gorbik invited him to conduct the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra Representation-Podvorie choir during certain pieces of the Vigil service on their feast day of St. Sergius.

Meanwhile, PaTRAM™ was beginning to assemble a male choir for our 2019 CD recording in Saratov, Russia. Thanks to Maestro Gorbik who introduced him to PaTRAM, Nektary was asked to participate as a pro baritone on the recording of the “More Honorable than the Cherubim” CD. Nektary is exactly the type of aspiring church musicians we hope to discover, educate, and cultivate in order to further our mission to develop and spread beautiful liturgical music throughout the world. Nektary was clearly talented, but more than that, he was also devoted to improving his skills and developing his knowledge of the choral arts.

So in 2019, Nektary made the journey from his home in Australia to Saratov, Russia. He was then just 20 years old and poised to take advantage of a unique opportunity halfway around the world.

The Future of Sacred Music – One Man’s Story


There are standouts in every profession. But how does a person like this come about in the space we refer to as “sacred music”. As part of our effort to pass on the prayerful creation of Orthodox sacred music, PaTRAM™ is always looking for diamonds in the rough. When PaTRAM discovers someone who has the devotion, dedication, and talent to become exceptional, it is incumbent on PaTRAM to do all we can to help such people grow into world-class musicians.

Introducing Nektary Kotlaroff, who, at just 21 years of age, has already achieved a great deal! Through God’s grace Nektary and PaTRAM Institute™ were connected. It was easy to see that Nektary had not only the skills to be a great sacred music singer and conductor but had more important traits: the unceasing desire to improve, learn as much as he can, and grow both in his religious life, as a deeply Orthodox believer, and his secular life, as a good person who yearns to share his talent with the world.

In the coming weeks, PaTRAM Institute readers will be able to see Nektary’s story unfold. PaTRAM Institute is honored to do its part in supporting Nektary’s journey in sacred music and to spotlight his amazing talents and growth. You WILL be moved, as we were.

© Eastern Archdiocese ROCOR

Chapter 1:

Nektary Kotloraff grew up in a very religious family. His grandfather, father, and many of his uncles are all graduates of Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary in Jordanville, NY. From a very young age, Nektary possessed a deep love for the Church and music. He spent 10 years serving in the altar before transitioning into the tenor section of the choir at Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Sydney, Australia. There, he discovered not only a passion for singing but for conducting and composing as well.  Nektary took voice lessons from Dallas Watts, an accomplished singer from Opera Australia and received instruction on his own compositions from Andrei Laptev, current conductor of Strathfield Cathedral. He learned to conduct from Nick Kulikov, who at the time was conductor at Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral.

That was just the beginning for Nektary, who achieved numerous accomplishments at an impressively young age. At the age of 14, he conducted his first Liturgy which was sung by the Russian school choir on Lazarus Saturday. When he was 15, he was invited to be the youngest member of the Australian Diocesan Choir which participated in the Hajnowka Music Festival, where the choir won first place under the direction of Andrei Laptev. In 2016, during Nektary’s final year of high school, his final singing performance was nominated for the ‘Encore HSC Music Performance’ to be held in the Sydney Opera House. It was a showcase of the best music performances in the state from the high school graduating class of 2016. That same year, he was ordained a Reader by His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

But it was in December of 2016 that Nektary had the idea to assemble a group of men to sing a Liturgy in his Cathedral – a decision that would mark a turning point in his career as a musician and lead him to PaTRAM Institute.

More to follow…..

Beautiful Music to Start Your Weekend

This week we are pleased to present a selection from one of the hymns on our new CD, entitled “O Virgin Unwedded.” We hope that this beautiful piece will uplift you and bring comfort during this time of continued uncertainty in our country and the world.

This hymn is available in its entirety on our new CD, “Blessed Art Thou among Women” – Peter Jermihov, Conductor. The CD is available on Amazon, iTunes, and wherever you buy music. To learn about this CD or purchase a copy for yourself, click here.

“Blessed Art Thou among Women” also received another favorable critical review, this time from John Quinn at MusicWeb International. Among other highlights in his review, Mr. Quinn commented, “The singing throughout this disc is of an extremely high quality. Not only does the choir sound superb, but they also evidence great commitment to the music. This is singing from the heart”. You can read the complete review here.

Remembering Protopresbyter Valery Lukianov – Two Year Anniversary

On the second anniversary of Protopresbyter Valery Lukianov’s passing, PaTRAM Institute™ would like to share this video remembering his life and the great contributions he made to the Russian Orthodox Church and the Orthodox community. Father of PaTRAM Institute’s Chairman and co-founder, Alexis Lukianov, Fr. Valery was a wise, kind and beloved pastor who served our Lord and his flock for over 50 years. Memory Eternal!

Father Valery Video

Christ Is Risen! PaTRAM Institute™ Wishes Everyone A Bright and Happy Easter

Christ Is Risen! Truly He Is Risen!

Христос Воскресe! Воистину Воскресe!


PaTRAM Institute™ would like to wish all of our donors, subscribers and friends a very bright and happy Pascha! Thank you for your ongoing support, past, present and future.

In these difficult days, it is especially important that we keep our perspective, help our friends and neighbors and find comfort in prayerful music to ease our fears and help us maintain hope. Our faith in God and our fellow man will help us all get through these trying times and to a brighter future.

In the spirit of the Paschal season please take a minute and watch our Paschal Greeting video.

PaTRAM Institute wishes you, your family and friends the best of health and a Happy Easter.



UPDATE – 2020 PaTRAM™ Conductors’ and Singers’ Summer Academy

PaTRAM Institute™ has made the decision to cancel our Conductors’ and Singers’ Summer Academy, scheduled for June 25-28, 2020. It has become clear that it will not be possible or safe to gather together at this time.  We remain hopeful that the global pandemic will pass, and we will again be able to invite the Orthodox community to join together to learn and sing to the Glory of God.

We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause our participants.

Meanwhile, we wish you and your loved ones good health and all of God’s blessings.

Stay safe!

Tatiana Geringer

CEO, PaTRAM Institute

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Teach Me Thy Statutes

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