Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Youth Choir Weekend: Boston

Note: Normally I don’t use real names in this blog, but at the request of one of my ardent readers, I will mention a few. As Mrs. Maria Kasarda told me, “Tell the truth and shame the devil.”

The Boston Ball was just the beginning of an eventful three days. Twenty-odd young people converged on Boston this past weekend for a Youth Choir Weekend.

The youth life of the Eastern American Diocese is extremely healthy, perhaps due to the density of population and universities in the Northeast. The St. Herman’s conference, St. Seraphim’s camp, and other youth gatherings produce an energetic and close-knit generation. The Youth Choir is one such expression of this energy; they meet on a semi-regular basis at various parishes on the East Coast to sing. I wanted to go to previous Choir Weekends, but prior commitments in the seminary and elsewhere precluded any such plans. Thankfully, with school over I was able to make it this time. We were to sing vigil at St. Xenia’s in Methuen, and then the Sunday liturgy at Holy Epiphany in Boston.

After the Boston Ball wrapped up, and I said my good-byes to my new friends, I rode to my friend Dimitry’s house. Dimitry, who was going to direct the choir, is the son of the previously mentioned deacon. For the next two nights I would be sharing a room with two other singers: John and Alexander. Full of excitement and anticipation for the coming days, it was a wonder that I fell asleep.

I woke up earlier than expected on Saturday morning, a result of my regimen at Jordanville. John and I sat down to breakfast with Fr Deacon Alexander, who gave us a fascinating lecture on Riemannian geometry, and had us add fractions.

“What’s 56 plus 78?”
“Father, it’s too early in the morning for this!”

We soon departed for North Andover, where there was a park near the home of one of the children of Fr Michael, the rector of St. Xenia’s. We played soccer and hung out. After everyone was tired, hot, and hungry, we walked over to the house, where we had a lunch consisting of leftover steak from the Ball. It was a typical Summer afternoon.

We then had to head over to Methuen for practice. The basses vastly outnumbered the tenors, of which the sole representative was Alex Cooley, traveler of legend. When the time came for the service, however, Cooley was joined by a newly-graduated Ephraim. We were at first split into two choirs for antiphonal singing, but for the sake of greater cohesiveness we soon migrated to the choir loft. After Vigil some of us went to Outback Steakhouse, where the conversation was nothing short of convivial.

The next day we were in Roslindale for the liturgy. Practice paid off; I think we did quite well. And I was happy to be at Holy Epiphany again after an interval of no little duration. The frescoes are well done and include depictions of various parables, which I don’t see very often.

After the liturgy we departed to parts…unknown to me geographically, but it was a lovely home. I cooled my feet in the pool and munched on burgers and hot dogs. Since I was flying out from Boston on Monday, I had to find another place to stay on Sunday night. It turned out that I would stay with the Kasardas, of whom the second boy, John Belosselsky-Belozersky Kasarda, is an ardent reader of my blog. Mrs. Kasarda had in her youth lived in Jordanville for some time, and I listened happily to stories of old Jordanville, such as of Archimandrite Panteleimon (“He would always hold out his hand for M&M’s”). Mr. Kasarda was a very kind and affable host, and we talked quite a bit about Hawaii. My time spent at their home was not without some light entertainment, and I had time to relax and watch several movies, including (natch) “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”

My stay was all too short, and I promised to come back again. Mr. and Mrs. Kasarda dropped me off in Ipswitch, where I boarded the commuter rail bound for Boston and on the way to Logan International.

In all, this past weekend was probably one of the best I’ve had this month, if not this year. I’m very grateful to my gracious hosts, and hope to return to Boston soon!

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