- training a new generation of master conductors
- growing the ranks of professionally trained singers in church choirs
- significantly increasing the musical collaboration among members of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR), the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), and the faculty of the Moscow Representation Church of the Holy Trinity–Saint Sergius Lavra.
A group of American Orthodox Christians recently attended at the beginning of September this year a five-day workshop in conjunction with the St. Sergius monastery in Moscow, where instruction was received in a master class on the finer points of Orthodox liturgical worship.
The group was sponsored by the Patriarch Tikhon Russian-American Music Institute (PaTRAM), a non-profit organization committed to improving the musical quality and standard of Orthodox worship in North America.
This is a pretty good clip about PaTRAM from the US government propaganda outlet "Voice of America". Comedy spoiler: they "warn" that the church has "close links to the Kremlin", even have a famous Russian liberal underline it, as if that is some how a bad thing.
The Institute was named after Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow, who was the head of the Russian Orthodox Church in America from 1898 until his return to Russia in 1907, during which time he was naturalized as a US citizen. He was canonized as a saint by the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) in 1981 and by the Moscow Patriarchate in 1989.
An excellent documentary about the Insitute (PaTRAM), explaining their mission and activities
PaTRAM was founded in 2013 with the aim of providing an accessible, virtual institute to build competence over longer training intervals in all levels of music education in English and Slavonic. Given that Orthodox worship services are conducted almost entirely in song, the Institute particularly endeavors to enable prayerful singing by believers, in order to enhance the essence of Orthodox worship.
“We need an institution such as PaTRAM to train choir directors and singers and specialists in Church music,” explains Metropolitan Hilarion (First Hierarch, ROCOR). “There’s also a need for a disciplined and consistent approach to the liturgical arts,” says Metropolitan Tikhon (Primate, Orthodox Church of America).
Elizabeth Ledkosvky, a director of PaTRAM, describes the Institute as “kind of the next phase including all the leaders from all the jurisdictions in the musical world.” And Dr Vladimir Morosan, another director of the Institute, speaks of Maestro Vladimir Gorbik as “a kind of a lightning rod: he brings people together and energizes them and inspires them.”
Maestro Vladimir Gorbik is the choir director at the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, the most important Russian monastery that is also the spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church. So it is difficult to imagine a better qualified candidate to help fulfil the mission of the Institute.
Institute director Peter Fekula elaborates on its aims: “What we have with PaTRAM is an opportunity to take people’s desires, to take people’s impulses and to layer on top of them a structure, an organization that allows those things to come to life.”
But how to raise the skill level comparable to Maestro Gorbik’s choir in Russia, which would ordinarily require a full-time commitment to acquire the desired level of proficiency?
Alexis V. Lukianov, Co-Founder of PaTRAM and the chairman of its board of directors, explains PaTRAM’s approach: “Not everything has to happen in a classroom or a purely didactic type of environment, so this has to be practical for people.”
PaTRAM’s groundbreaking approach is to bypass the inconvenience of a conventional music program by providing virtual private or collective lessons, allowing for independent guided study at the student’s own pace, buttressed by seasonal master classes such as the one recently conducted in Moscow.
Benedict Sheehan, PaTRAM co-founder and vice rector, describes the desired outcome: “When you go into a church and you hear this song that sounds like the age to come, then how can you not pray? You almost can’t help yourself. And so we want to give that to people.”
Igumen Sergius, spiritual advisor to PaTRAM, states: “The work of PaTRAM is the work of the Holy Spirit. It’s bringing a very powerful witness for Orthodoxy in America.”
The purpose of Orthodox Christian life is the practice of unceasing prayer as a spiritual pilgrimage from glory to glory. PaTRAM seeks to assist this journey by enhancing the prayerful singing by believers who seek closer union with God in liturgical worship.
With its partnership with the St. Sergius monastery, the Patriarch Tikhon Russian-American Music Institute has every chance of succeeding in its spiritual mission.
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