Months of practice finally paid off at our Seminary Choir’s public debut at Holy Epiphany Church in Boston. We didn’t sing a concert. Rather, we did the weekend services, which was even better. There were five of us: Nicky Kotar, David, Anthony, Pete, and me.
Boston is one of my favorite cities on the east coast, at least judging from the places I’ve been. The last time I was in Boston was for the Boston Ball and Youth Choir Weekend last summer.
Pete and his wife Kate went ahead of us on Friday night, so just four of us left on Saturday morning, taking the old, beat-up seminary van for the weekend. Nicky had classical music CDs for our enjoyment. I voted for Mozart’s Requiem. Driving on the cold highway, past the snow-covered trees, we thus heard:
Dies iræ! Dies illa
Solvet sæclum in favilla:
Teste David cum Sibylla!
Which gave us a little memento mori for our journey.
We then listened to Dvořák’s New World Symphony, which sounded like every movie soundtrack ever made, probably because everybody ripped off Dvořák.
We arrived at downtown Boston around 2:30. I’ve had some experience in Boston before, but I wasn’t very familiar with the area, and it was hard giving directions. “Um, there’s a P.F. Chang’s. And a Legal Seafoods.” We wandered around a bit until our friends showed up. We met up with Alex Cooley and Nadia, and then with Pete, Kate, and Suzie. Suzie, a Boston native, gave us a whirlwind tour of the area around Boston Common, including the Make Way For Ducklings statues, the State House with its gilded dome, and some rearranged graves of famous Bostonians. By the time we made our transit we had to leave for Fr Victor Boldewskul’s house for dinner. So, we got into the car, managed to navigate through Boston traffic, reconnected with Cooley’s car, and drove like madmen through the streets of Boston, toward Roslindale.
We finally parted ways with Cooley at Fr Victor’s house, and went inside for dinner. Fr Victor was very happy to see us, and we had a light dinner of Chinese takeaway. At the end of the dinner, we opened up our fortune cookies. Mine said, “No one ever became great through imitation.”
“That’s funny,” Nicky said, “mine says, ‘Now is the time to be a role-model. The younger is watching.’”
We then went to church and sang the Vigil, which went by smoothly. We did the whole service by ourselves, and used all the pieces we practiced, which included various arrangements of ancient chant. Unfortunately, we didn’t do a special “Svete Tikhii” (O Gladsome Light) because we forgot to bring the second page of the piece.
After Vigil, we went to Fr Alexander Jarostchuk’s house, where we had a delicious second dinner. Fr Victor also came by, and he regaled us with stories of seminary life back when he was at Jordanville twenty years ago. Meanwhile, Fr Alexander’s wife Elena came in with some treats made with pineapple.
“I’ll be stereotypical,” I said. “Give me the pineapple.”
Return of the purpledryasnik!
Sunday also went well. I was wearing my infamous purple cassock, which always puts me in a good mood. After the liturgy we had a nice lenten meal in the downstairs trapeza. The babushki kept offering us potent potables. All went pretty well. After we had something to eat, we went to the Law of God class to talk about life at the seminary, fielding questions: “Yes, we can go out (if we get a blessing). No, we don’t eat kasha and bread all the time.”
We rounded out the trip with a final visit to Fr Victor’s house, where he showed us some old pictures from his time as a seminarian. We then did a little reprise of a couple of pieces.
Bow ties are cool.
It was a very memorable weekend. I’m very grateful to Fr Victor and Fr Alexander for their generous hospitality in hosting us, and hope to be back in Boston before too long!