PAN-ORTHODOX CHRISTMAS CONCERT
December 23rd 2018
By Joanna Magoufakis
Photos: Natalya Yatskevich and Marina Shumitsky
On 23 December 2018, Russkaya Cappella were invited to take part in a Pan-Orthodox Christmas concert, at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St Luke in the West End of Glasgow, by the initiative of Fr Mark Mitchell, who is priest there.
● Glasgow is at the moment home to four Orthodox Churches: The Russian Orthodox Church of St Kentigern, based in Govan and led by Fr Georgy Zavershinsky, under the authority of the Moscow Patriarchate.
● The Church of Russian Tradition named after the Archangel Gabriel based in the West End, and led by Fr Augustine McBeth, currently under the authority of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
● The Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St Luke, led by Fr Mark Mitchell, under the authority of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
● The Romanian Orthodox Church in Shettleston, led by fr George Bliortu, under the authority of the Romanian Metropolis of Western and Southern Europe.
This year, the Greek Byzantine and Russian traditions were represented. Hopefully next year there will be representatives from all Orthodox traditions, so we can share with each other the richness and diversity of our faith.
Father Mark, along with three Greek cantors, performed Greek Liturgical chants, associated with the Nativity of Christ in eight tones. Byzantine music may sound foreign to Western ears, but the audience appreciated its mysterious and monophonic sound.
The Russian tradition was represented by Russkaya Cappella, who were accompanied by the children from the Russian Children Singing Studio, established in 2012 by the Russian Orthodox School in Glasgow. Both choirs are under conducting of Svetlana Zvereva. The aim is to teach young children how to sing and perform. Their curriculum includes sacred music but also folk - and children songs. On the day, they were all dressed in beautiful national costumes, as were many of the members of the choir, thus presenting the public with beautiful songs but also Russian culture.
The children sang three pieces with Russkaya Cappella, “Holy night”, “Swift winged angel” and “Heaven and earth”. They were warmly received by the audience, making it a lovely experience for all.
The teachers and parents of the members of the Russian school have made a great effort with the children, and although they were understandably a bit shy, we are excited to have the opportunity to watch them grow and improve. We hope that they will one day join Russkaya Cappella.
The repertoire consisted of many beautiful Christmas carols, both Russian and Ukrainian. Pieces included, "Shchedryk (Щедрик)" by Leontovich, "the Bells rang early in Jerusalem", "Dish divination song" but also, “The Legend” by P. Tschaikovsky, “The Shepherds of Bethlehem” and “Many years” by A. Kastalsky.
We hope this year’s concert is the beginning of a new Pan-Orthodox tradition where all our Churches can come together and share their unique traditions.
Lessons at the Studio take place on Saturdays in the Glasgow Steiner School and last one hour. They combine learning how to sing, ear training and reading music as well as preparing for concerts. The main aim is to get the children used to the Russian singing tradition. That means folksongs, sacred music, music by Russian composers and children’s songs.