This past Sunday, June 30th, the 2019 Summer Singers’ Academy came to a close with a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy officiated by His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, His Grace Bishop Luka of Syracuse and many clergy, including Father Serge Lukianov whose Parish, St. Alexander Nevsky, hosted the Academy. Highlighted by the singing of the combined choirs of the Academy, the service was as colorful an image in sight as it was in sound with an almost full Cathedral.
Beginning on Thursday, June 27, the Academy began with a Molebin, served by Father Serge, in the beautiful St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral in Howell, NJ. There were two independent course threads, Mixed Choir and Male Choir.
The Mixed Choir was an all-encompassing curriculum, designed and overseen by Academy Executive Director Katya Lukianov and staffed by a stellar faculty led by Benedict Sheehan, the Mixed Choir group was made up of singers from ALL skill levels. Vocal instructors Laryssa Duhovskoy, Richard Barrett and Maria Sheehan taught students the mechanics of singing, both physical and mental, how to best emote prayerful singing and rehearsing the repertoire the Choir would be singing at the weekend’s services. Singers commented that the experience was “transformational”, “informative” and “very positive”. Almost to a person, each had their own story about how much they learned in such a short time.
The Male Choir program was led by Grammy Award nominee, Maestro Vladimir Gorbik and, also, overseen by Grammy Award nominee and Academy Executive Director, Katya Lukianov. This program was for experienced male singers who strived to learn the repertoire for TWO sets of services, the weekend’s Hierarchial services as well as the services celebrating the Feast of St John of Shanghai and San Francisco on Friday night and Saturday morning. But most importantly, for these singers, were the techniques that Maestro Gorbik taught them of how to make their singing as prayerful and emotional as possible.
Not to be forgotten, Dr. Nicholas Reeves, led both choirs in the subject of Musicianship. Dr. Reeves, whose deep knowledge of choral music and its roots and practical applications, taught the students of how the music should be interpreted and functionally applied.
Round-table and panel discussions with the full faculty were also key components of the Academy. The panel’s participants were open to any and all questions by the attendees. In addition, a poignant and incredibly interesting presentation was given by Archimandrite Father Sergius, the Abbot of St. Tikhon’s Monastery in Waymart, PA. Father Sergius spoke of the importance of prayerful singing and its importance in the service of the Orthodox church.
Two and a half days of learning about sacred choral music and how to sing it, the choirs studied their repertoires and then, side-by-side, sang the Hierarchical services on Saturday night and Sunday morning. The sounds were spectacular and extremely moving. The Choirs brought out all the nuances of the music and both officiating Hierarchs, Bishop Luka and Metropolitan Hilarion, praised the quality of singing by the choirs and commented on the importance of prayerful singing to the Orthodox Church. “Amazing” was one attendee’s reaction.
At the end of the service, Father Sergius, presented the attending administration of the Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville, NY, a check for $50,000 as donation towards the $500,000 operational expenses for that institution. He also pointed out how important the work of HTS is to the Church and that without it the Church would be seriously impacted and unable to bring up new clergy to keep the Church going into the future. Father Serge said, “we’ve put up 10%” and that additional donations are needed to supplement that first step.
At the completion of the Sunday Divine Liturgy all the clergy and the Academy students, faculty, staff and friends attended an incredibly tasty luncheon at the Church Hall across the street from the Church. After lunch, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion personally gave each Academy participant a special Certificate of Completion of their chosen program. In addition, each student was given their own copy of the beautifully bound, hard-cover book, “Moments of Russian Sacred Music, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, THE COMPLETE SACRED CHORAL WORKS”. Vlad Morosan’s Musica Russica, a global provider of Russian choral sheet music and recordings and frequent partner of PaTRAM, donated the books to the Academy. THANK YOU!
In the past week, with the success of this Academy, the administration of PaTRAM has already begun planning the Academy for the summer of 2020 and has set tentative dates of June 24-28. Discussions have begun regarding the content and additional subject matter is expected to be included. Don’t miss out on the information. Become a PaTRAM subscriber.