Chicago Master Class – A Personal Observation
Written by Sergey Furmanov
From June 21-25 2017, the PaTRAM Institute held a Master Class for choral conductors in Chicago, IL. The event was unique in that, in the course of their studies, students has the chance to polish their conducting skills with a professional choral ensemble under the guidance of Peter Jermihov, a world-renown figure in the conducting field. In the course of three hours of podium time, broken up into six half-hour segments with the choir and a professional accompanist, every gesture of the student-conductor and every sound of the choir was subject to criticism/input from Maestro Jermihov. The degree of immersion into the nuances of conducting technique was akin to the exposure Piotr Nikolaevich had, in his own time, while studying under the famous teacher and mentor of conductors—Ilya Aleksandrovich Musin.
The Master Class was preceded by intensive preparations by the students, who were asked to prepare several compositions for the upcoming All-Night Vigil and Divine Liturgy Services to be held at the Pokrov Cathedral. The repertoire of hymns was selected with flawless taste and in conjunction with the respective levels and abilities of the students. The inclusion of such classics as Gladsome Light by Kastalsky, Blessed Art Thou, O Lord by Tcahikovsky, as well as music by living composers—Psalm 103 by Fr. Sergey Glagolev, Mercy of Peace by Nun Iyuliania Denisova, Cherubic Hymn by Kurt Sander—undoubtedly contributed to the development of a broad overview of available repertoire and enriched everyone with bold musical material.
Besides the practical lessons in conducting, students were expected to play on the piano music assigned to all the student conductors, in this way participating in the learning process of their colleagues and, at the same time, raising their own musicianship. In the same vein, the score studies in analysis and score preparation, led by Professor Nicholas Reeves, substantially enriched the students’ knowledge of music history, harmony, polyphony, and musical form.
The Master Class participants are deeply grateful to all who invested their enormous energies towards the organization of the class at the highest professional level. In the first place, this gratitude is extended to Maestro Peter Jermihov, whose energy and talent bring to life Beethoven words: “music is not simply a viable form of self-expression but a moral and ethical force.” The Master Class was made possible by the generosity of Alexis and Katherine Lukianov, and the ideal and smooth-functioning logistics of the class were executed behind the scenes by the ever-present efforts of the PaTRAM staff—Alex Milas and Tatiana Geringer. With God’s help, such Master Class will continue to bring to life the main objective of the PaTRAM Institute—the bringing together musical excellence with prayer.