On December 22, the 27th Sunday after Pentecost and the feast of the Conception by the Righteous Anna of the Most Holy Theotokos, Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York celebrated Divine Liturgy in the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City, co-served by diocesan vicar Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan. Concelebrating with the hierarchs were: New Jersey dean Archpriest Serge Lukianov, cathedral dean Archpriest Andrei Sommer, Archpriest Edward Chervinsky and Protodeacon Nicolas Mokhoff (cathedral clerics), and Deacons Nicholas Ilyin (cleric of Holy Dormition Convent "Novo-Diveevo" in Nanuet, NY) and Stefan Stoyanov (cathedral cleric).
The service was held the aegis of the wonderworking Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God.
Singing magnificently at Liturgy was a combined male choir, consisting of singers from the Tsar Nicholas II Choir (New York, director Adrian Fekula), The Russian Orthodox Male Choir of Australia (Sydney, Australia, directed by Nektary Kotlaroff) as well as other choristers. Singing in the choir were Protodeacons Vadim Gan (cathedral cleric) and Alexander Kotlaroff (cleric of the Diocese of Australia), and Deacon Michael Pavuk (cleric of St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Mayfield, PA).
The church was filled with worshippers, most of whom confessed their sins and communed of Christ’s Holy Mysteries.
Addressing the faithful with a sermon was Fr. Serge Lukianov, who spoke about the meaning of the feast of the Conception by the Righteous Anna of the Most Holy Theotokos. Fr. Serge called on the faithful, despite whatever difficulties they may be facing in life, never to lose hope, to pray fervently, to rejoice, and to hope that, through faith and prayer, we will receive the joy of salvation.
Upon completion of the service, Bishop Nicholas thanked Metropolitan Hilarion, the clergy, and the altar server or their joint prayer. He congratulated Frs. Nicholas Mokhoff and Nicholas Ilyin with their recent namesday, and wished them well strength and fortitude in their labors. His Grace called on the faithful to labor during the fast, in order to worthily greet the radiant feast of Christ’s Nativity. The bishop noted the joy the clergy felt from the singing of the male choir of the Dioceses of Australia & New Zealand and Eastern America, which included singers from the Patriarch Tikhon Russian-American Music (PaTRAM) Institute, the Mid-American, Western American, and Canadian Dioceses.
The sisterhood organized a luncheon in the cathedral hall for the clergy, singers, and parishioners, upon completion of which a remarkable spiritual concert was held by the male choir.
The idea to sing at the divine services and later perform a concert in New York City arose among the young singers of the Eastern American and Australian Dioceses last year. The Australian singers sang at their first Liturgy in February 2017. Since that time, the choir has sung at the divine services in Sts. Peter & Paul Cathedral in Strathfield.
The choir’s director, Nektary Kotlaroff (himself a student of renowned Moscow director Vladimir Gorbik) spoke about how, on May 4, 2018, he and Adrian Fekula (director of the Tsar Nicholas II Choir) agreed to prepare a joint concern at the Synodal Cathedral. But in order for 20 singers to travel to the U.S., funds had to be raised. Since that time, the choir began performing spiritual concerts at diocesan parishes; on Monday evening, the choir rehearsed for 3-4 hours.
By the recommendation and with the blessing of Bishop George of Canberra, the choir was named "The Russian Orthodox Male Choir of Australia."
Assisting with the travel costs were the PaTRAM Musical Institute, the Fund for Assistance to ROCOR, parishes in Australia, and diocesan parishes: Holy Virgin Intercession Church in Glen Cove, NY, Holy Virgin Protection Church in Nyack, NY, and St. Seraphim Memorial Church in Sea Cliff, NY.
New York City: Combined Male Choir from New York, Sydney (Australia) sing at Hierarchal Liturgy - 12/22/19
Photos: G. Konyev & T. Veselkina - Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese