Sunday, June 2, 2013

What I Saw In Russia — Day 6

After last night’s long dinner, we got to sleep in. Around eleven, we went to Christ the Savior Cathedral for the Seventh Annual Vera i Delo (Faith and Deeds) forum, in which young people from Russia and all over Europe would come to discuss contemporary issues facing the church today. There, I also met some people I knew from San Francisco.

The Cathedral Hall is literally an Orthodox convention center. Around the central stage are rows of plush seats for over a thousand people. Behind the stage is a giant marble mosaic of Pentecost. We were seated in the front rows. While we waited for the event to begin, I was jotting down some notes for the blog, Alex Cooley and Alika/David made crossword puzzles for each other (“Babies in Pouches” = “Marsupial”), and Meri and Natalia played Hangman.

The forum began with a drum line. Seriously. I Am Not Making This Up. It was pretty awesome. I turned to Cooley and said, “We should do this for St. Herman’s!”

The first part of the forum was a long Q&A session with the panelists on the stage, which included Fr. Andrei. After about an hour or so, we ducked out to take a short tour of the Cathedral. I had seen it in the live broadcast of the Paschal service on Youtube, but of course it’s even more amazing in person. There was tight security at the entrance, which made sense considering certain recent events.

After our short visit we followed our tight schedule and went to the Martha-Mary Convent, which was founded by the Grand Duchess St. Elizabeth, the sister of the martyred Empress Alexandra. There we did our first concert, which turned out all right. The concert was a mixture of spiritual music and readings concerning the life of St. Elizabeth. The juxtaposition of the readings and the music was very powerful. For example, after the reading about the St. Elizabeth’s martyrdom at the hands of the Bolsheviks, we sang the Cherubic Hymn, which was reportedly what she and her companions began to sing when they were thrown down the mine shaft. The particular arrangement chosen was a favorite of the tsar and his family, so it’s possible that it was the one sung on that fateful day.

Nicky had us stand separated from people of the same vocal part. This prevented us from depending too much on our neighbor and made us focus on the conductor. Many in the audience were residents of the convent’s House of Mercy, including a few orphans. Following the concert the Superior congratulated us and presented us with small wooden eggs with St. Elizabeth’s monogram.

We then immediately went to the convent’s church to sing vigil. The convent church has some interesting architecture reminiscent of Vladimir/Suzdal architecture of the 13th century or so, especially the carved designs on the outside. The interior has spiritual frescoes painted by Nesterov. Vigil went well, and the church interior had a calming effect.

After dinner at the convent, it was already getting late and we had to get up early the next day to have rehearsal, so we went back to the dorms. Us guys finally got the router, and we had dependable internet for pretty much the first time in the trip. And I finally had a (sort of) good night’s rest.

* Liturgy at PSTGU
* Several Concerts
* Jerusalem-in-Moscow
* The Optina Podvorye

No comments:

Post a Comment