NEW YORK: November 6, 2012
The Divine Liturgy of Mikhail Konstantinov is Sung at New York’s
Synodal Cathedral of Our Lady “of the Sign”
According to Christian writers, “Church singing can fill the soul with heavenly ecstasy, or tears of endearment. They can elevate our thoughts above the entire world, reconciling us with ourselves and with our neighbors, mitigating our weaknesses, lightening our sorrows and warming our hearts with heavenly love” (Hegumen Gury of Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY, from Pravoslavnaya Rus’, 1992, No. 20).
Just such consolation was imparted to the clergymen and worshipers of the Synodal Cathedral of Our Lady “of the Sign” on Sunday, October 28, 2012, in New York City. The 30th anniversary of the death of the renowned choir director and composer of the Russian diaspora, Mikhail Sergeevich Konstantinov, was marked in New York by the performance by the Cathedral Choir of his Divine Liturgy under the direction of Peter Fekula. The service was headed by the cathedral’s Senior Priest, Protopriest Andrei Sommer, along with Priest Nicholas Olhovsky, caretaker of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God “of the Sign,” the cathedral’s clergymen and those of St Seraphim Memorial Church of the Reconciliation of the Russian Orthodox Church in Sea Cliff, NY, the singers of which also sang at the cathedral service that day.
The magnificent singing of the compositions of Konstantinov revealed the great soul of the composer to those in attendance, enabling them to piously participate in Divine Liturgy. He harbored great love for the Russian Church, her traditions, divine services and the New Martyrs and Confessors.
Protopriest Serafim Gan, Rector of St Seraphim Church, read a sermon on the day’s Gospel reading following the singing of “Blessed be the Name of the Lord.”
Before the veneration of the cross, Fr Andrei expressed gratitude to Mr Fekula and the singers, and proposed singing Eternal Memory to Konstantinov; Protodeacon Pavel Wolkow then intoned the commemoration prayer for the composer.
During the trapeza luncheon that followed, prepared by the cathedral’s sisterhood, Fr Andrei shared his recollections of the life, divine services and celebrations of the San Francisco cathedral under the late Archbishop Anthony (Medvedev, +2000), its priests, Mikhail Konstantinov and his singers, who also participated in his spiritual growth. Peter Fekula expressed his profound gratitude to the singers for their work, their efforts during rehearsals of Konstantinov’s Divine Liturgy, and also read aloud a greeting from Vladimir Krassovsky, student and successor to Konstantinov in leading the Cathedral Choir in San Francisco.
In 2006, with the blessing of Metropolitan Laurus of blessed memory, the Synod Cathedral Choir marked the 150th anniversary of the birth and 80th anniversary of the death of Alexander Kastalsky, and in 2009, the 65th anniversary of the death of Pavel Chesnokov, performing the works of these composers at divine services in the Synod Cathedral. Mr Fekula and his singers intend to mark important anniversaries of Russian composers in the future, whose works reflect the sounds of our Fatherland, in order to continue the good work of bringing people to the wealth of the spiritual culture of Holy Russia.
It is good to see in our difficult era the good efforts of these workers in the harvest fields of church music. They honor the memory and works of their predecessors, who in turn followed in the footsteps of the great hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church: Bishop Amvrosy (Klyucharev) of Dmitrovsk, who in the 1980’s founded the Society for Lovers of Church Singing; Holy Hieromartyr Arseny (Stadnitsky) of Novgorod, who published the Sputnik psalomshchika [The Psalmist’s Companion] and convened church music conferences; these singers heed the words of the great leaders of church capella music AF Lvov: “All the power, all the importance of church music is contained in the words of the prayer. The goal of singing is to give the words of prayer clearer expression. It is clear that such singing should not only concord with the meaning of the words of prayer they convey, and submit to their meaning, but the very musical notations must submit to the rhythm of the words.”
May the Lord help them in their work!