Written by: Alex Milas
Photos provided by the Eastern Archdiocese, unless otherwise stated
Those are just two opinions I heard during and after the first-ever singing of Kurt Sander’s original English language Divine Liturgy in the Russian style. Under the guiding hand of conductor Dr. Peter Jermihov, “The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom”, commissioned by PaTRAM, was sung by the PaTRAM choir at the St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral in Howell, NJ on Sept 12, the Cathedral’s Patronal Feast Day.
Concelebrating with Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York was the diocesan vicar Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan and many visiting clergy. The Cathedral was filled with clergy, filled with believers and filled with the beautiful music of this newly written score.
The day began with the myrrh-streaming Hawaiian-Iveron Icon of the Mother of God arriving at the cathedral. The Icon was received by Father Sergei Lukianov and was placed in the Cathedral for believers to venerate.
Soon after, the PaTRAM choir began singing the Sander Divine Liturgy. The voices echoed through the Cathedral and worshipers seemed moved by the beauty of the music, with the Cherubic Hymn a clear highlight of the service.
Maestro Peter Jermihov was able to draw the best out of the singers despite having only a single 90 minute rehearsal with the full choir, the morning of the event, and two smaller rehearsals the previous Saturday and Sunday at Our Lady of Kazan Church in Newark, NJ, with singers who never before sang this score as an ensemble. A herculean effort to say the least.
The celebration continued with a procession around the Cathedral on the beautiful sunny morning. Metropolitan Hilarion, Bishop Nicholas and the clergy led the procession while the PaTRAM choir sang with the worshipers walking behind them.
At the conclusion of the service His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion bestowed diocesan gramotas to the composer, Kurt Sander, the conductor, Dr. Peter Jermihov and to the founders of PaTRAM, Alexei and Katherine Lukianov. These were extremely proud moments for PaTRAM, as an organization and, of course, personally to these talented individuals. A truly amazing and historic day.
Please visit the Eastern Diocesan Website for more reporting on this historic event.