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March 6, 2010
Rochester, NY: The Diocesan Youth Choir sang at Holy Protection Church

ychoir.jpg (36661 bytes)On February 28, the Second Sunday of Great Lent, when the Orthodox Church commemorates the work of the great defender of the faith St. Gregory Palamas, the Eastern American Diocesan Youth Choir was privileged to sing in the parish of the Protection of the Mother of God in Rochester, NY.

Despite a snowstorm that wreaked havoc on many of the choir members’ travel plans, fifteen hardy souls gathered in the basement of the parish for choir rehearsal on the afternoon of Saturday, February 27. Under the able direction of Melasha Reff, a graduate of the Jordanville Summer Music School, the choir was able to add several Lenten pieces to its extensive repertoire.

That evening, the youth choir sang antiphonally in Church Slavonic and English with the parish choir, a unique opportunity for many who had never previously experienced this ancient form of liturgical singing, established by St. Ignatius of Antioch in first century of the church, after being lifted up to heaven and witnessing choirs of angels singing praises in this manner. Serving at the vigil were parish rector Archpriest Gregory Naumenko and Protodeacon Andrej Strapko. At the conclusion of the First Hour, the two choirs joined together for the parish’s customary singing of “Under Thy Tender Compassion” before the icon of the Protection of the Mother of God.

After a night where choir members were able to reestablish friendships and form new ones, they reassembled at church to sing the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great, served by the parish clergy. During this service, the Youth Choir sang by itself, without the parish choir. Adhering to the parish custom of serving one Liturgy per month exclusively in English or Slavonic, the service was performed entirely in the English language. The liturgy was highlighted by a beautiful rendition of “Only-Begotten Son” sung by the women of the choir in Byzantine chant, arranged by Jared Brewer, and the Cherubic Hymn composed by Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), both of which received numerous compliments from parishioners.

After receiving heartfelt thanks on behalf of the parish from Fr. Gregory and joining in the parish luncheon, the members, with great regret, said goodbye and began their journeys back home.

Reader Gregory Soloviev

Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese