Day 4 was first of two BIG days for the choir because today was a performance day! Yes. Today there were no pilgrimages only the business of singing.
After 3 days of rehearsing, both at the Eleon Monastery and, yesterday, at the Notre Dame Hall the group was almost ready for performance.
Day 4 started with a nice breakfast at the hotel followed by a walk across the street to the sister property with the same name as our hotel, the Notre Dame Concert Hall.
There was lots of running around by the staff, preparing for the concert, while the ensemble was doing their sound check in preparation for the performance at 11am. An afternoon concert was not possible because the attending clergy would have had a difficult time getting back to their parishes and monasteries in time for their evening vigils as most start around 4pm, “monastery” time. Monasteries, in Jerusalem, do not recognize Daylight Savings Time and, therefore, run 1-hour EARLIER.
Although doors-open time was 10:45, people were gathering around the entrance of the theater an hour before performance time to get in. There was a real interest in see what the PaTRAM Male Choir™ was all about.
Finally, the audience was let in and seated.
The audience included many clergy including the Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Holiness Theofilos III (front row center), who kindly gave His blessing to PaTRAM to perform in Jerusalem.
After the Hierarchy were acknowledged, the choir filed out on to the stage followed by their conductor, Maestro Ekaterina Antonenko.
Once the choir was on stage the emcee for the performance, PaTRAM CEO Tatiana Geringer, read her introduction of the group and noted the fact that this was an original arrangement of Rachmaninoff’s “All-Night Vigil” for Male Choir.
After the introduction, the choir began singing the Rachmaninoff masterpiece. As the choir began to sing “Bless the Lord, O My Soul”, baritone soloist Evgeny Kachurovsky took center stage to sing the very moving solo .
Shortly after Mr. Kachurovsky’s solo, the Male Choir’s other soloist, tenor Igor Morozov, took to center stage to sing the solo in “Gladsome Light”. Mr. Morozov would go on to sing solos in “Lord, Now Lettest Thou” and “Blessed Art Thou, O Lord”, later in the program.
The entire performance was brought together by the focused and determined efforts of Maestro Ekaterina Antonenko. Her emotional conducting of this masterpiece was clearly visible.
As the “All-Night Vigil” performance ended with a standing ovation and encore, Ms. Antonenko was presented with flowers by Fr. Roman Gultaev, PaTRAM’s local guide and logistics support person.
Once all the accolades were completed and the crowd began to leave, the choir assembled onstage to take photos with the clerical Hierarchs: His Holiness, Patriarch Theofilos III (center), His Grace, Bishop Theodosy of Seattle (left) and His Grace, Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan (center).
Later that day, evening vigil was served at the Ascension Church (where the choir will be recording their CD next week). The administration of PaTRAM and several of the singers were invited to an excellent dinner with the Abbess of the Convent, Egumenia Varvara to celebrate the All-Saints Feast day and the Choir’s work at the Monastery.
Another exhausting but spiritually satisfying day!! But….it’s not over!