Angels are singing

Grodno hosts the International Festival of Orthodox Chants for the fourteenth time

Grodno hosts the International Festival of Orthodox Chants for the fourteenth time

The traditional spring holiday is celebrated at the end of February and the festival organisers believe that residents of the city view the Kolozha Chime event as the approach of spring. The festival gathers performers of Orthodox chants from six countries, filling the city with spirituality and joy.  Andrey Bondarenko, priest, composer and chairman of the jury, described the festival as among the best of its kind regarding quality and level of representation. The finals attracted around forty church and secular teams from Belarus, Russia, Poland, Lithuania and Romania. Participants from Georgia and Moldova took part for the first time.

Participants of the Kolozha Chime Festival

The Holy Protection Cathedral — which hosted the event — was full of people. Other performers were warmly welcomed by Grodno residents, including the Ka-Me-Lek vocal trio from Moscow whose soloists (winners of many prestigious contests) perform for the fifth year as a team. For many years the group have been singing both church chants and classical and folk songs in more secular settings. Yelena Pure, singer at the Bolshoi Theatre’s Chamber Concert Choir, believes that singing church chants is a special vocation. “Our performances are heartfelt and we appreciate the audience embracing the spirituality of our work,” she says. Ka-Me-Lek is visiting Grodno for the first time, although two members of the team have their native roots in Belarus. As the trio’s head, Yekaterina Sledneva, explained, her great-grandfather lived in Grodno all of which adds to the sense of feeling welcomed.

The Archbishop of Grodno and Volkovysk, Artemy, commented that events similar to the Grodno festival enrich our souls. “The Holy fathers state that church chants are a genetic memory which has been preserved in people. Our Festival also helps us meet God and each other. We’ve seen different teams and national traditions but all were united by faith. The Kolozha Chime Festival continues to promote this unity.”

The final day culminated in the awards ceremony. The Grand Prix went to a student choir from the Belarusian State Music Academy under the leadership of Inessa Bodyako. Russia’s Ka-Me-Lek won a special prize. Apart from the contest programme, the 14th festival included many other interesting events — becoming the longest in its history (running for a week). There was an exhibition of facsimile copies of old books, modern icons and photography organised and an evening of church poetry and films was offered for the public. The festival closed with a gala concert. All those who attended the festival left with the impression they had heard angels sing.

By Yelena Semenova
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