To return to the concert...
My plan originally was to perform the St. Nicholas Mass by Joseph Haydn, the Requiem for the Living by Dan Forrest, and Benedicite by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Vika Konchakovskaya, the head Ukrainian conductor for Music Mission Kiev, urged me strongly to replace the Vaughan Williams with music of mine, as they have performed and recorded some of my music before. Therefore I brought my Cambridge Songs Suite which I performed three years ago in Longview, TX with the East Texas Community Chorus and orchestra. Just before going to Kiev this year I revised it a little and am very pleased with it. Although this performance would not have clarinets, bassoons, or any brass other than one horn I decided to just go with it, and it was fine.
As I introduced the Requiem I mentioned to the audience that there were two things unusual about it. First, it included a movement with text from Ecclesiastes, "Vanity, vanity, all is vanity." Second, the Agnus Dei is placed BEFORE the Sanctus for theological reasons: the composer makes the statement that we cannot appreciate the holiness of God (Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus) until we have come to the Lamb of God (Agnus Dei) for mercy. I expanded on the concept of the Lamb of God, his atoning sacrifice for the sins of man, the just for the unjust, etc. At the end of these statements I said simply, "Slava Boga," meaning "Praise the Lord!" About half the audience responded, "Slava Boga!" What a thrill to stand before hundreds of people in a nation of a different language and talk clearly about Jesus Christ and what he has done. (The other two times were in my sermon and to the university students.)
What precision, what beauty this performing ensemble demonstrated! The level of music-making in Ukraine and Russia is very high, and the culture is such that classical music is deeply appreciated at an emotional level. Again, if you have time to listen to some of the audio, go to https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1xGz8eYMaPFtFGzIBX2mrKEIbSTvraCf9?usp=sharing. I expect to get an edited video recording soon, and will post that on Facebook and send you links.
Did I mention that we were able to attend an opera for $4 (100 hrivna) and a ballet for the same amount?
That's all for now. Thank you once again for making this trip possible with your support. YOU went with us, YOU were speaking when I was speaking, WE went and YOU sent. Slava Boga!