Eighty-some of us from across Ukraine and Russia are back home after the annual Christian Singing School. In its 16th year - give or take - the school aims to improve a cappella, congregational singing of Russian-speaking congregations. The last two years the school was held at Donetsk Christian University in southeast Ukraine. Say, care for an inside look ~ plus a 31-second listen?
(Double-click photos to enlarge.) We started Sunday evening, July 19th and here we are Wednesday morning. We didn't usually practice on the stage, but Kostya Zhigulin, our musical director, wanted us to get comfortable looking in the direction of an audience.
Wonder of wonders ~ I managed to upload video for the first time ever ~ Hooray! This little snippet can not capture the rich, full-bodied sound, but its fairly decent. . .
Oh I love it. My prayer is that in heaven we'll be singing in Russian. So beautifully polysyllabic. On the other hand, we're promised that there will be no pain in heaven. Pain and polysyllabicism: can they possibly co-exist? I think not. But then again some things are known only to God. Well, moving right along. . .
Our daily routine included sectionals. Here are the altos with Elena, our leader, a music teacher by profession and Julia, not pictured, the ultimate alto. They are so gifted with reading music. The rest of us just tagged along behind the super singers.
Twice daily we met for group choir. Here are the basses. Oh, fabulous.
We started practicing Sunday evening, 18 July. Our day was packed from 7:30 am through 8:30 pm except for a free hour after lunch. A bit more intense than I'd prefer. . . but is the photographer ever consulted about her schedule preferences? Nyet. . .
Music theory was part of our daily schedule. We were divided into groups according to our knowledge of music. Did I mention that I was in the very highest bunch? Ah yes, but only because I asked for an upgrade. And I promised to sing softly and do no harm. . .
Here's Evan's music theory class, one of maybe seven such groups. He's in the blue-purple shirt in center-right. Evan (pronounced *e-VAN* - with the soft a used in Russian - but we call him *VAN-ya,* the diminutive here in the land of diminutive-ization - You still with me on this?) sings operatic quality bass and studies music in Moscow. We have a special appreciation for Vanya because in August he's marrying our Rostov sister, Marianna, back row, toward the left. Hey, wonder how Marianna managed to get into Vanya's class, eh?
Here are the basses again. Oh so serious. So very deeeep.
Somebody's the brains behind the whole thing and that would be our brother, Wiley Dean, from near Florence, Alabama. He's a master of fund-raising, delegating and motivating. Thank the good Lord for the leaders among us. . . Especially for the servant leaders among us, such as Wiley.
This energetic group volunteered their one hour of free time each day to sing and record children's songs in Russian. Looks like they're doing The Lord's Army, above. Making a DVD of Christian songs for Russian-speaking children has been my absolute dream. But first, I'm hoping to get songs up on YouTube. In the learning mode on this, so this is baby-step by baby-step. Translation: Don't be rushin' me! Although it's true that we're in Russia, but I prefer not to be rushin' around when learning new skills. ;)