Monday, February 12, 2007

Rachmaninoff at First Baptist

Saturday night, after Vespers at our own church, we attended the the Da Camera Singers' performance of Sergei Rachmaninoff's All Night Vigil. It was exhilarating to hear the strains of his familiar setting of
Благослови, душе моя (греческого роспева)
"Praise the Lord, O my soul," sung with live voices, and, to my ears, it was sublime. I'm told by those who would know that the mainly English-speaking choir handled the Slavonic well.

At coffee hour yesterday, I chatted with a musically sophistocated Muscovite fellow-parishioner about it. She had avoided the concert because she was reticent to believe that a chamber choir could sustain the vocal power required for the piece. Perhaps this is true, but I didn't notice. I heard subtlety and serene strength. Apparently Rachmaninoff never intended this piece to be done liturgically, but simply as "a sacred choral symphony." I can understand why... it's degree of difficulty would baffle all but the most accomplished church choirs. Nevertheless, hearing this music was witnessing the presence of the eternal Kingdom.

It was also meaningful for me to be at First Baptist Church in Edmonton for the first time, as it is the spiritual home of our friends Greg, Sara and Soren Hendricks, and a sister church to First Baptist in Vancouver, which holds fond memories for me. I used to go there sometimes with my sister Kim, to hear Dr. Bruce Milne's summer preaching on the Book of Revelation, some 12 years ago. Then, and on Saturday night, even without the incense, I knew I was on holy ground.



Blogger Steven D. Sorrell said...

You don't know me, but I found your site by way of Brannon Hancock's site. I, like yourself, have made the Journey to Orthodoxy from the Nazarene Church. I attend St. Ignatius in Franklin, TN with my wife (a former Naz MK to Thailand) and daughter. I atteneded Trevecca and I am finishing my MA from NTC at Manchester which I think you did as well. Dr. Rainey is my Advisor and my Dis. is on Deification according to St. Maximus the Confessor. I enjoy reading your site and thought I would finally comment since you mentioned Rachmaninoff. I performed the "Vigil" at Trevecca and it is one of my all time favorites. I am currently a Choral Director and Old Testament Lecturer at a Private School and my choir is working on the 1st number of the Vigil "O Come" but in English. Well Take Care.
Christ is in our Midst
Steven D. Sorrell

8:51 AM  
Blogger Matthew Francis said...

"He Is and Ever Shall Be!"

Thanks so much for your note, Steven. It is a joy to hear from fellow-travellers like yourself. Yes, we certainly have walked some of the same paths. I finished my MA with Dr. Swanson at NTC in 2001. David Rainey is great. I hope you're enjoying working with him.

Please feel free to keep in touch. I would be interested to hear more about your studies, choral work and life in general:


10:29 AM  

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