November 30, 2002: Headlines: COS - Russia: Music: Country Directors - Russia: Kulshan Chorus: Kulshan Chorus Music and Life in Russia

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Russia: Peace Corps Russia : The Peace Corps in Russia: November 30, 2002: Headlines: COS - Russia: Music: Country Directors - Russia: Kulshan Chorus: Kulshan Chorus Music and Life in Russia

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Kulshan Chorus Music and Life in Russia

Kulshan Chorus Music and Life in Russia

Kulshan Chorus MUSIC and LIFE in RUSSIA

The following letter was recently sent to Roger, our musical director, from Tim Douglas. Tim is a former mayor of Bellingham and the most recent Peace Corps Director in Moscow. Tim sends us a holiday story of interest.

Sent: Saturday, November 30, 2002 4:56 PM
Subject: We'll be two weeks too late

Joanne and I will be thinking of you and the Kulshan Chorus on the date of the winter concert. While we're close to home (at Peace Corps Headquarters here in D.C. until New Year's Eve), we still can't be on hand to enjoy the program. One of many reasons we are anxious to get back to Bham! Assumption cathedral in Valdimir

Moscow and Russia will be unforgettable memories. A couple come to mind immediately. On our first site visits, we ended up in the city of Vladimir one early December night. The first snow had fallen. Our driver asked if we wanted to see the cathedral, one of Russi'a s oldest (built about 1,000 A.D.). Of course we did. We crunched through the snow, up the steps, and into the cathedral as a service was underway. Not a light bulb on in the whole place! Candles burned in candle stands in front of each smoky icon, and the chandelier was all ablaze with candles. The clergy were chanting the liturgy in Russian that carried to every point in the church, and a small chorus sang beautifully. In one moment, we had been taken back hundreds of years. Unforgettable!

That spring I went with friends to the night-time mass on Easter Eve. It started at 10 p.m. At 11, everyone lighted the candle of the person next to them with their own. Then the entire congregation, led by the clergy, began to process, singing a sad chant about Christ's death and the world's dreariness. The procession left the church and circled once around it. Whe we returned and the clergy reached the altar, they turned and exclaimed, "Christ lives, he has come back from the dead!" All responde, "Yes, it's true, he is risen!" Lots of joyful songs, and the greeting and response were exchanged all over Moscow for several days. The long dreariness of Russian winter made the joy even more contagious. One doesn't have to be either Christian or Orthodox to appreciate the faith that survived decades of effort to extinguish.

Przyvalsky poniesFinally, in the middle of our second winter I traveled to Smolensk and one of Russia's first-ever national parks. It has 30+ glacial lakes. The village there is named for the Russian explorer who discovered the Przyvalsky ponies. It had been rebuilt after the war, but each cottage preserved Suzdal church built without nailsthe distinctive character of northern Russia: ornate carved wooden "eyebrows" above each window and around the door. On the shore of one of the lakes, we went to the banya one night. After each trip into the sauna room with its birch twig whippings, we ran out to the lake and jumped into the frigid water through a hole cut in the ice. After that, of course, came many toasts and a lot of good-natured conversation. Absolute simplicity, not interrupted by the distractions of television or world events. Just people enjoying one another and nature.

So as Kulshan Chorus sings to the klezmer tunes in a couple of weeks, we congratulate you on celebrating the human spirit, the joy of life, and the importance of community. We'll be tapping our toes in enthusiastic support!
See you soon,
Tim Douglas

When this story was posted in December 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Kulshan Chorus

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Russia; Music; Country Directors - Russia



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