PaTRAM Co-Founder Launches New Symphony Orchestra
Поклонимся великим тем годам!!
"Let us bow down before the Great Years"
The Trinity-St Sergius Podvorye Choir School Performs at the Moscow Conservatory; Maestro Vladimir Gorbik conducts
the premiere performance of a new Symphony Orchestra.
On May 27th, 2017, at the Great Hall of the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory, the Choir and Music School of the Trinity-St Sergius Representation Church held a recital. As with all recitals, this one showcased the unity of hard work and talent of children and adult singers and performers.
The show started much as all others probably have done, with the skillful, and excellent singing of a choir of very young children. As the concert proceeded, the audience was treated to various, and all highly advanced, presentations of both Russian folk and Orthodox Christian choral music and chant.
The concert was led by the truly beautiful and expert conducting of Dina Dovgan, who has been in charge of teaching the children and mixed choirs at the Podvorye. Dina is a fantastic musician, and her spirit is very strong. She is very gifted at infusing expert attitude and musicianship in her students. This day's concert proved that her efforts are not in vain. This reviewer was astounded on multiple occasions with her abilities and with the abilities of the children in her charge.
The finale of the concert was something that we have not seen from the Podvorye music school in the past. A long time dream of Maestro Vladimir Gorbik, the rector and first regent of this school, has been to have a symphony orchestra as part of the retinue.
This year, this dream became a reality.
The Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Vladimir Gorbik came into existence on March 15th, 2017. It is comprised of the existing Male Choir and Mixed Choir that both have sung at the Podvorye for years, and about sixty musicians from the great conservatories and music schools around Moscow. This orchestra is young, and the performers are full of the energy of their youth, and the skill of the finest musicians in the world.
As many people probably know, Russia has long since been the home of some of the finest composers and musicians that the world has ever known. Vladimir Gorbik believes the reason for this can be found in the prayer life of the Orthodox Christian, supported by the Russian Orthodox Church.
In a recent interview with Andrew Gould of the Orthodox Arts Journal website, Maestro Gorbik said,
“Unfortunately, there are many conductors in the world who are very far from common sense. Not only are they not Orthodox [Christian] believers – they are not believers in God at all… They do strange interpretations of classical music… My spiritual father, Metropolitan Longin of Saratov said to me, ‘Vladimir, if a conductor is a believer in God, [then] God helps him to unite musical form with content.’”
(Orthodox Arts Journal, interview with Andrew Gould, , March 21, 2017.)
Met. Longin’s statement is extremely important because neither of the selections that Maestro Gorbik conducted at the Conservatory are works of Orthodox composers or even of Orthodox sacred music.
Maestro Gorbik is presently known throughout Russia and around the world as one of the finest and most spiritually “tuned-in” conductors. His presentation and interpretation of Russian Orthodox sacred Church singing is unique in its soulfulness and power, this even for a nation that is blessed to have many fantastic choirs and conductors.
But here, the two pieces performed were Mozart’s “Dies Irae” from his Requiem Mass, and Pakhmutova’s “Поклонимся великим тем годам” (Let us bow down before the Great Years), which is an anthem commemorating the battles in the Great Patriotic War. Neither selection comes from the tradition of the Russian Church. And more, the latter piece springs from the Soviet period of Russian history.
For many Russians, “Poklonimsya” is a connection to the Communist part of the nation’s history, which is not exactly reviled here. Presently, Russia has been thrust into the chaos of a vigorous market economy, and so many unpredictable things happen from day to day that some miss the stability of Communist times. Regardless of whether one actually misses Communism, all Russians remember that their nation, and indeed the entire Soviet Union, was fighting for its very existence against the Nazi foe, and many, many people were lost defending the Motherland.
This second piece is, therefore, the one that stood to be compared against Metropolitan Longin’s statement. Could Maestro Gorbik accomplish the raising up of an extremely important patriotic song and lift it in such a way that it becomes connected with the resurgent soul of Orthodox Christianity presently rising in the Russian lands?
The answer to that is a resounding “Yes!”
This symphony orchestra is unique in that it combines the performance effort of people dedicated specifically to excellence in sacred music, with that of people who are simply dedicated to excellence in music, whether sacred or not. And, the prayerful guidance of Maestro Gorbik is not something that the average audience member would see. In Gorbik's sacred choral concerts he submits to the tradition of the Church and appears in his podryaznik. In this symphony setting, he conducted in the traditional tuxedo with tails.
However, when the music began, there was divine fire, animating and driving the intensity of these two works far beyond simply well executed performance pieces, which they certainly are. Dies Irae burned with the fire of the Judgment itself, as the choir and orchestra delivered this sacred text as it would be in a service, with meaning and soul.
And then came Pakhmutova's piece. Everyone was sitting down when this piece started. That did not remain so. And whether the audience member was a man, woman or child, young or old, Russian, American or other foreign visitor, everyone stood to honor the memory of the great and tragic years of the Russian Motherland, and we all honored those brave people who gave their lives for this nation.
Russia’s struggle and triumph against the Nazi forces marked a turning point, even while still within the fear and terror earlier promulgated by Josef Stalin. For here, Stalin at least tacitly, and possibly more than tacitly, opened the Churches again, so that the people would go and pray for the Russian nation. And God granted even this effort His great mercy and grace for the victory of Russia and her eventual return to her Lord. And, this text, written later, evokes the Almighty in gratitude, even though the text never mentions God at all.
The presentation of this piece in the concert transcended the limitation of the text itself, and turned this into a solemn and triumphant hymn of remembrance. And the presentation made it Orthodox and Christian, with the full heart and soul of the Russian nation reflected in its performance. Interestingly enough, due to technical issues at the concert surrounding the piece’s recording, it got performed twice. And, both times the audience’s response was to honor these who were lost.
When we look at the world as Christian believers, we can see the world a little like God sees it. When we unite our lives with the Lord in prayer and make what we do all about living this relationship with Him, He comes into every part of our life and work. This is what Met. Longin was talking about. God guides the voices of the singers, the bows of the musicians, and the hands and eyes of the conductor, and this can transform something good into something far more, transcendent and holy, and with surprising width.
Vladimir Gorbik has done something here that the world has not paid attention to in a long time. The great composers of Western Europe were usually deep believers, not just theoretical artists playing with sacred texts. The masterful recordings of their compositions fill the libraries of the musical world, and many of them are remarkable, often astounding. But the prayer of a believer can move mountains, and the grace of God can heal the nations and change the world. In the efforts of Maestro Gorbik and this new symphony orchestra, we see the unity of the best we can offer as people, and the great and unlimited grace that God offers to anyone who earnestly seeks Him.
We eagerly look forward to more from the Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Vladimir Gorbik in coming months and years, and we are very grateful to Maestro Gorbik, to Met. Longin and to all the musicians and singers for making this project come to life.
Little Spot Productions is honored to serve in the role of Producer for this new Symphony Orchestra. Stay tuned to www.littlespotproductions.com for more news as this project grows!
Little Spot goes to Saratov, Russia
In May and early July, 2016, Little Spot Productions joined forces with SoundMirror of Boston yet again, to help with the recording and production of an upcoming CD featuring the combined choirs from the Moscow Representation of Trinity-St Sergius Lavra, and the Saratov Seminary and Conservatory singers, as well as some American and Canadian singers. The repertoire is solely Pavel Chesnokov, and the conductor is Maestro Vladimir Gorbik.
The recording session was in two phases. The first phase was to record the All-Night Vigil and Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral of the Protection of the Mother of God in Saratov. This was a private request of the hierarch, Metropolitan Longin of Saratov, and it afforded the choir to show its prowess in prayerful singing, which it did, magnificently.
After this, we went in for three days of intense recording, and the results, in the words of John Newton of SoundMirror: "It sounds like a million bucks!"
Little Spot eagerly awaits the completion of production and the release of this CD. Stay tuned for details. In the Clients page are samples from the live services. Truly, this was a magnificent project, and God was with us for all of it.
Kansas City and Phoenix Chorales win Grammy Award
for Best Choral Performance
The Kansas City and Phoenix Chorales combined under the leadership of conductor Charles Bruffy, to record the Rachmaninoff masterwork, "The All-Night Vigil." This is a 15-piece compilation of sacred music such as it is sung in the Russian Orthodox Church. Sergey Rachmaninoff composed this work in 1915, and it was premiered on March 10th of that year in Moscow, Russia. To this day, the Vigil stands as the pinnacle of excellence in Russian Orthodox Church singing.
Charles Bruffy and the Kansas City and Phoenix Chorales have created a recorded masterpiece that captures the soul and essence of this fantastic a capella singing.
Little Spot Productions was there to assist the engineers at Sound Mirror who headed the recording and production of this work. We also assisted Charles and his fantastic choir with consulting on the ethos and essence of Russian Orthodox Church singing.
We are profoundly grateful to have been involved in this project. To hear a sample of the recording, click on this button:
Illumini Men's Chorale's "Music of Russia" CD Gets Rave Reviews!
Since the release of Illumini Men's Chorale CD "Music of Russia", we just keep getting such a fantastic response!
King FM of Seattle, WA, writes:
"You did it man! WOWWWW! ... You and your three “octavists” and Glenn have done something really beautiful here, that will give King FM listeners years of rapture. I couldn’t be more thrilled. Thank you!"
And this link here takes you to the in depth review from Oktavism, but a brief quote says this:
"Overall, Illumni’s project is an immense success and a must-have album for any connoisseur of the oktavist tradition. Not since Georgy Smirnov’s Basso Profondo from Old Russia has any album featured the oktavist voice so centrally. The profound effect of this disc goes further, however, than the mere depths of its basses: Illumni truly captures the Russian spirit in a way few Western choirs have."
A brief history of the project: On April 20th (& 22nd), 2012, the Illumni Men's Chorale and guest soloist Glenn Miller gathered to offer a concert of Russian music, rarely heard in the United States.
The group featured 23 men: 4 counter tenors, 7 tenors, 6 baritones, and 6 exceptional low basses - 3 of whom would be considered *Oktatvists. (see below)
The concerts were raw, moving, and powerful. Russian Orthodox Church music, soldier songs, and folks songs rang through the halls.
The concerts also included the first-known performance of the original ending of Chesnokov’s “Ne otverzhi mene” (Do Not Forsake Me When I am Old) by guest soloist: Glenn Miller.
Little Spot Productions is honored to produce such a fine concert recording. It is truly a magical concert event and the energy of the singers and audience is palpable on this CD.
Little Spot Productions teams up with Resonate Pictures to record Cavalia's "Odysseo"
Seraphim Hanisch, October 2014
In October 2014, LIttle Spot Productions was invited to team up with Resonate Pictures (Van Nuys, CA) and Fabulous Films (Seoul, South Korea) to record elements for the soundtrack of the upcoming feature film for Cavalia's new show, "Odysseo." This show, created by Cirque du Soleil co-founder Normand Latourelle, is one of the biggest hits in the United States at present.
We teamed up with Grammy Award winning sound engineer Byeong Joon Hwang and the incredible sound engineer Jonathan Bicari and the Cavalia team, to record the live sound from the show, the actors and horses on stage and the electrified audience. Combined with the soundtrack from the musicians, we created an over 60-channel sound pallette from which to edit and reproduce the experience of being at the show in person.
Everything about Odysseo is immense in scale, from the largest Big Top in the world, to the backdrop screen lit by 18 high definition projectors, to its 61 horse cast, to the incredible feats of its acrobats. The musical score is truly inspiring, and the choreography of acrobats, riders and horses is something totally unexpected. Being a part of this project was an amazing experience, and we eagerly await the release of the feature film in 2015.
(Photo Credit: Cavalia.net)
Little Spot Productions on scene with the Kansas City and Phoenix Chorales
Seraphim Hanisch, May 2014
We were invited to apprentice - and work together with the acclaimed engineers at Sound/Mirror Boston and Sound/Mirror South Korea, to record the incredible composition of Rachmaninoff's "All Night Vigil", as performed by the combined choir of Kansas City and Phoenix Chorales. Led by the multiple Grammy-Award winner Charles Bruffy as conductor, the choir first performed a public concert at Kansas City's Our Lady of Perpetual Help - Redemptorist Cathedral, and then we went into an intense, three-day recording session.
Sound/Mirror is arguably the best classical music recording company in the world, with over 80 Grammy Award nominations and wins in its forty year career.
The Vigil was captured in 151 takes, in DSD Surround Sound. The CD "The All-Night Vigil" was released on March 10, 2015, and it went promptly to Number 1 on the Billboard Traditional Classical charts.
Little Spot Productions is profoundly grateful to be a part of this project.