Kurt Sander's Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom is the first complete setting of the Orthodox Liturgy in English composed in the Slavic choral idiom. Commissioned in 2016 by the Patriarch Tikhon Russian-American Music Institute (PaTRAM), it follows in the great tradition similar works by Tchaikovsky, Gretchaninoff, and Rachmaninoff. At the same time, Sander's masterful score breaks new ground: It employs a richness of modal harmony and sonority that places it definitively in the 21st century; it is built upon musical themes that are recognizably "American," yet have an objective and universal quality to them; and it utilizes those distinctive motives to achieve a degree of thematic unity never previously heard in an Orthodox sacred choral work. In short, this work is a first-rate example of Orthodox liturgical creativity in the present day—achieving a remarkable blend of the traditional and the contemporary.
The release of the published score coincides with a splendid premiere recording by the PaTRAM Institute Singers, under the direction of Peter Jermihov. The choir brings together some of the finest vocal talent on the North American continent, singing in the gratifying acoustics of the New Gracanica Serbian Orthodox Monastery near Chicago, and superbly recorded by the multi-Grammy-award-winning firm of Sound Mirror, Blanton Alspaugh, Producer. Both the recording and the score represent a significant milestone not just in the realm of Orthodox liutrgical music, but sacred choral music in general.