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Concert of Georgian Music by St. Nino’s Choir

January 23, 2011

An unforgettable, unrepeatable and unbelievable moment. The sense that you had seen, or heard, or touched something ineffable, unknowable, something transcendent. It was truly a moment in which, with a heartbreaking honesty, you felt that you had directly experienced the mercy of God. It was sacramental in every sense of the word. It reminded us of what music, liturgy, art, life, culture and history are all about: the overwhelming sense of thanksgiving to God for all that we have received and for all that we have not received. A completely uncompromised and unqualified thank you to life, life as an expression of an intimate and immediate communion with God Almighty. Amen.

Today we heard a concert that changed our lives. If it did not, there is something profoundly wrong with our world; if it did, there is something profoundly right with our world, there is great hope, we can continue with our lives, our struggles, our shortcomings, our sins, our incompleteness, all because God is merciful, He is loving and forgiving and kind.

At least 125 people gathered together here at St. Andrew’s Orthodox Church in Dix Hills at 4:00 pm today, to hear the parish choir from St. Nino’s Georgian Orthodox Church in Brooklyn, NY. They traveled from our parishes in Sea Cliff, East Meadow, Whitestone, Brooklyn and from across Long Island as well. The first part of this concert, held in the church proper, consisted of fourteen liturgical hymns that were executed with breathtaking beauty. St. Nino’s Choir consists of 10 singers and is conducted by Luiza Tsaava, the choir’s director. Lasha Kvetenadze, St. Andrew’s choir director, introduced St. Nino’s Choir and spoke about Georgian music, its history and its unique qualities. Following the concert, Fr. Alexandre Tandilashvili, the Rector of St. Nino’s parish, kindly offered a few words about the Georgian Church and the challenges that it faces. Lasha and our parish council president, Mark Guyer, were responsible for preparing a program booklet for the event.

After the concert, a meal in memory of a former parishioner, Peter Petorak, was prepared and served by his family members. Wondrously and in spite of the record attendance, there was enough food for everyone to eat, even with some leftover. During the meal, St. Nino’s Choir sang folk songs to the accompaniment of traditional instruments. Children were dancing between the tables while the overflow crowd strained to take their meal and find a place to sit and eat. Even the choir had not eaten yet, in their rush to travel to us right after the morning’s liturgy, it was well after 5:00 pm and for many of us it was a typical church day with a very early beginning and no end in sight. However, once the music resumed in the hall, the folk music half of the concert, we had no thought of it ending and no desire to go home: we would have preferred to remain there forever. That is simply how wonderful and transformative the singing was.

The following comments were offered by some of those in attendance:

“As a choir member and used to singing our usual arrangements, I was fascinated by the interesting harmonies and intricate intervals performed by these 10 singers. They obviously prayed from their hearts, which was most evident when expressing The Lamentations, one of the most moving pieces performed by female voices. There was something ethereal about their singing that transcended ‘performance’.” Ginger Jerosh

“I felt that what I heard yesterday was one of the most beautiful sounds of singing prayer, perhaps from a divinely received message. Listening to this chant is a strong case for musicality and piety. It sounded ancient, and not affected by any contemporary aesthetic standard. A call to pray.”
Georgette Sykora

“Really, I thought the concert was fabulous, but a little too long. The one thing that everyone really loved was The Lamentations, which wasn’t even on the program! As for the quote, I don’t really know what to say. It’s really hard to put into words the emotional impact some of the Georgian music has on a person. One of the people I saw was crying her eyes out and I know she didn’t understand any of the words. I guess it was the sounds that got her.”
Doreen Bartholomew

“The performance by the St Nino’s choir provided our family with an opportunity to hear authentic Georgian chants and songs. The choir’s love of singing was apparent, while the hospitality of Fr. John and the parishioners of St. Andrew’s made for a very enjoyable evening to experience one of the many cultures which have embraced Orthodox Christianity over the centuries.”
David Lucs

At the conclusion of the evening, we were so pleased to be able to present Fr. Alexandre with the proceeds of the event, which was to be a fundraiser for St. Nino’s, in the amount of $1,200. We understand that these funds will be used in renovating a building on Staten Island, recently purchased by St. Nino’s as the new home for their Church. We wish them every blessing but we know that with their abundant spirit and the love they freely express, they will surely flourish! Glory Be to God!

Photos from the event can be viewed here.

A video of the event can be viewed below, with thanks to David Lucs. Additional video may be viewed on his YouTube channel.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

LI January 28, 2011 at 9:31 AM

A beautiful concert. Thank you!

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