What is the course objective – what will the student accomplish by attending this program? – explain the practical experience and knowledge to be gained.
The student will receive a deep professional knowledge of conducting-directing technique, the skills associated with the directing of a church choir at a high level and the opportunity to use the acquired skills in a practical manner.
There are two matters of importance here: firstly, that which is taught in musical educational institutions, regrettably, is not taught in church. I am speaking of the professional conducting of music, the knowledge of how to place your hands and how to tune the conducting apparatus. Included are: the schematic, independence of hand gestures for a more accurate expression of the feelings of the heart, the transfer of emotions from the conductor to the singers, the feeling of the musical form, phrasing, rhythm and tempo and all that is associated with the professional side.
Secondly, that which we can only learn in church will be added. These are skills to direct liturgical forms: Stichera, Troparion, Prokeimenon, and Hermos , conduct by eye, delve into the words of chants and subordinate the sound, harmony, polyphony and musical form to one goal-prayer.
Combining these two aspects lies at the core of the Conductors’ Master Class in Moscow.
What is unique about this master class? – accentuate conducting a professional choir in rehearsal and at Podvorie services.
By the Grace of God, the Male Choir of the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra Representation gained fame in North America and other countries for their liturgical singing as well as concert performances and the production of a large quantity of high quality audio and video recordings.
The student-conductor of this Master Class will have a unique opportunity to not only improve their conducting technique in rehearsals with the choir of this caliber, but will also be able to direct the choir at the All-Night Vigil and Divine Liturgy.
The participant will feel, from a musical standpoint, that he is ascending to new, unknown heights of the conductor-singer arts and is beginning to comprehend the mystery of conducting a choir during a church service.
How will attending this program make one a better conductor? – explain how the student will apply this to his own choir at home.
Conducting a well-coordinated team, such as the Choir of the Holy Trinity St Sergius Representation, will give the student an opportunity to experience what he can achieve in America with his choir. This will happen if the student learns the following: how to build the balance of voices, adjust the musical structure, call the attention of the singers to the hand gestures of the conductor, tie the professional and spiritual aspects into one whole. To a large degree a musically proficient person, more so than those without a professional proficiency, will be able to incorporate a prayerful experience and reach what can be called a high level of choral singing.
What will Maestro Gorbik personally provide as training that makes this a world class program? – focus on prayerful singing and how to do it.
I will answer this question with the words of my Father confessor Metropolitan Vladyka Longin: “If you want the singing to be spiritual, do two things. First, carefully read the words of prayer during singing. Think about them when you sing. Then, after a while, the content will penetrate your heart’s feelings, and from there, the music. Second, it is impossible to achieve spiritual singing without a heartfelt approach to the performance of the church chant”. These two blessings have defined my work over the last two decades.
There is another point that follows from my experience of fulfilling the two wishes of Vladyka Longin. By receiving training in the technique of conducting, studying the intricacies of the conducting art, and improving one’s self, the student-conductor will invariably inspire his choir in America to take a more responsible attitude toward developing their own skills and abilities in the church singing discipline. Seeing how the conductor improves, the singers will also want to develop and not remain at the same level.
These three approaches will provide a stable base for the improvement of church choral singing in the parish.