st. mark's united methodist church in clairemont. photo courtesy thomas s. scanlon ivst. mark's united methodist church in clairemont. photo courtesy thomas s. scanlon iv

On the former grounds of a small Clairemont airport stands the cathedral-like sanctuary of St. Mark’s United Methodist Church — its vastness large enough to contain the choral and orchestral movements of Mozart’s Coronation Mass.

All residents are invited to celebrate the emotional cause of music in a festive concert on Sunday, May 19 at 4 p.m., at 3502 Clairemont Drive.

Accompanied by a 21-rank pipe organ and a 19-piece professional orchestra, other talented vocalists from around the city will join the St. Mark’s Choir to create a truly unforgettable musical experience.

It was in 1779 when 23-year-old court organist Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was commissioned by the Archbishop of Salzburg to write the majestic Coronation Mass. This masterpiece became synonymous with coronations of holy emperors and ceremonial cathedral performances.

Other concert fortes will include a re-imagined orchestrated piece commissioned by esteemed composer Mark Hayes. Hear anthems by Franz Joseph Haydn, and Pepper Choplin, and a breathtaking arrangement of “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” by Dan Forrest.

And if this isn’t enough, you’ll be charmed by the director of choral ministries, Zlatoslav Sokolov, or Slav. This energetic wunderkind leaves no doubt in your mind that he’s in his element.

“I’m a singer, but love conducting, deep down inside,” he says. “My grandma watched KPBS concerts and as a little kid I’d walk up to the TV and start waving my arms as conductor.”

director slav, st. mark'sdirector slav, st. mark's
Director of choral ministries at St. Mark’s, Ukrainian-born Zlatoslav Sokolov.

Born in Odesa, Ukraine, Slav, his mother, and older brother immigrated to the United States in 1998 when Slav was just 5. “We were Jewish refugees,” he says. “My whole family was born in Ukraine but our nationality was Jewish. A daughter, then, took on the citizenship of her father, likewise my mother. The Soviet Union prided itself on different nationalities but discriminated against Jews.”

“Mother loves music and sang opera. In the U.S., she re-trained as a software engineer, and co-founded the Russian Misteria Theater.”

Slav has served St. Mark’s for 12 years, initially hired as bass section leader in the choir. A young college student, his endearing qualities were especially noted in his devotion to his grandparents in health, illness, and at the end of their lives.

The entire congregation is fond of its master of music. And members crave the winsome loaves of sourdough bread Slav bakes and sells.

“I love cooking, gardening, and my two cats and two dogs. And nature — nature inspires me.”

In early June, Slav will tie the proverbial knot with sweetheart Catherine.

A final music note, can you recall the timeless lyric made popular by singer Barry Manilow (but composed by the Beach Boys’ Bruce Johnston)?

“I’ve been alive forever… and I’ve got my place in your soul. When I look out through your eyes I’m young again even though I’m very old. I write the songs that make the whole world sing… I am music and I write the songs.” I

n this vein, treat yourself to the St. Mark’s 70th Anniversary Concert on May 19. It promises to be worth your trek across town.

St. Mark’s United Methodist Church photo courtesy of Thomas S. Scanlon IV.

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