Chicago Advanced Conducting Master Class – Observers and Students Share Their Opinions

Editor’s Note: all the statements that follow are unsolicited and the author is credited at the end of the statement.

His Eminence Metropolitan Philip of Poltava and the Chicago Master Class conductors

I thought very highly of the choir, it was beautiful to listen to and, simply put, it was very well done. It further helped with prayer and the overall Service. For me, the Liturgy came to life, and I felt emotionally connected to the service, especially when the choir was singing. In fact, when the choir was singing, it truly reiterated what it was I had felt during the Service—a sort of excitement and tranquility that is truly unique to come across. Your singing allowed the Service run smoothly and flawlessly and I thank you for that.

The choir holds an imperative role in the Divine Service. The singing is not simply a form of art that is beautiful to listen to; it is something greater. By “greater” I mean it also relaxes and enhances a spiritual connection between the parishioners and the worship experience. It helps set the mood of the entire church and allows for a better connection between us and God.

With regard to PaTRAM Institute, I am keenly aware of this organization’s unique ability to unite Orthodoxy and the Russian people both musically and culturally in America. I find that this organization has tackled a difficult yet uttermost necessary task in bringing people together. I have nothing but praise for PaTRAM and think exceedingly high of this effort. I wish all of its members the best of everything they set out to accomplish and pray that they succeed in all their goals and missions.

Very Rev. Viktor Trotskyy, Dean

Dormition Cathedral

Ferndale, MI

Fr. Andre Papkov & Dr. Nicholas Reeves lead the opening Molebin

I came to this Master Class expecting to improve on a number of fronts: preparation, technique, and expression. I did all three, but in a different fashion than expected. As the term “masterclass” implies, I expected something of a polishing up. What I got was an overhaul, and quickly. In the process, the biggest discovery was that I actually needed it.

Dr. Jermihov shows Allan Haggar a few tricks

Dr.Jermihov met each student where they were, placing consistent yet tailored demands on each. As well, Dr. Reeves provided needed and useful insight to the roots and composition of our music, making preparation for music making easier, yet more thorough. Dr. Jermihov broke my technique down to the most basic elements and rapidly built it back up.

Allan Haggar making it happen

While this was a humbling experience, it also built confidence. I feel better prepared to lead and make music. I also made some great new friends. Thank you!!


Allan Haggar, Masterclass Conductor

Chicago, IL


Alice Hughes receives technical advice



Letter to Dr. Peter:

I went into the workshop week prepared to submit to the process and to courageously take in new ideas and techniques, as I have done many times before at other workshops. You know, get a conducting “tune-up” and a few new ideas. (I do the same every year or so with a voice teacher in NYC.) But you, my friend, helped me to do much more than than a “tune-up”. I feel there was a transformation. Time, and the weeks ahead, will show whether or not, or what will stick long term, but I believe it has dramatically shifted my approach.

You are a terrific pedagogue and have a wonderful way of meeting each student where they are. That is a gift. Each and every student made progress forward. From my “huge heart”, THANK YOU. The days in Chicago will be remembered with fondness, daily change, and forward progress.

Alice Hughes making it happen

I moved out of my comfort zone, you guided …. magic happened.

My love in Christ,

Alice Hughes, Master Class Conductor

Santa Cruz, CA

Dr. Jermihov leads Observer Conductors in conducting fundamentals

Due to the fact that the student conductors and observers also participated as singers during the rehearsals and services, an extraordinary sense of collegiality existed among us, having shared the same musical journey from Wednesday evening’s first rehearsal to the Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning.

Katya Lukianov making it happen

In fact, we were actively encouraged to provide verbal and written feedback each day, which deepened our relationships with each other as student conductors, as well as with the ensemble. When I finally stepped onto the podium during the Vigil to conduct the compositions I had been assigned, I was met with an overwhelming sense of support from my colleagues, and affirmation of the progress I had made as a conductor during the intense sessions. As a church conductor who had never before lead any ensemble other than a volunteer choir, the experience of a dynamic collaboration with the professional musicians in front of me was one of the most exhilarating and intensely satisfying moments of my life.

Jelena Vranic making it happen

The strong sense of collaboration and collegiality, however, was balanced and put into context by the watchful presence and masterful leadership of Dr. Peter Jermihov. During every moment of the 3 hours of podium time each conducting student received, he provided thoughtful analysis of the student’s strengths and flaws, and created a learning environment where we felt safe to explore new options and paths not always open in the amateur setting. I personally experienced this in two ways.

First, I was encouraged to relax and experience the choir’s innate musical energy, providing only the pulse of the music and shaping the direction of the sound with small, easy gestures.

Constantine Stade making it happen

At the same time, however, I was encouraged to experience the generosity of sound that is provoked by using the entire reach of my arm, breaking out the the constricted style I had confined myself to.

All in all, my experience during the masterclass was that of intense preparation and a very rich and rewarding music-making experience.

A far cry from being focused on delivering a performance “good enough” for a church service, we had launched out into the deep—truly living out the experience of uniting our Orthodox worship with the highest musical aspiration.

Constantine Stade, Master Class Conductor

St. Louis, MO

Serge Liberovsky receives technical advice

The Master Class was a great experience for me and I learned a lot. Dr. Peter’s personal touch really helped not to mention the generous amount of podium time. An excellent experience all around.

Serge Liberovsky, Master Class Conductor

Los Angeles, CA