Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

The Icon: A Symbol of Orthodox Unity

Filed under: Christian,fine arts,religious,Russian,the Ukraine — 01varvara @ 00.00

Old Russian icon of the Mother of God “of Vladimir”

The Moscow Tretyakov Gallery, the Kievan Caves Historical and Cultural Reserve, and the Minsk National Arts Museum are engaged in an unprecedented project to display masterpieces of iconography from their collections in an exhibition called “The Orthodox Icon of Russia, the Ukraine, and Byelorussia”. According to Lidia Iovleva, the Tretyakov Gallery Deputy Director, the exhibition gives a clear picture of common cultural sources and the uniqueness of the iconographic schools in Russia, the Ukraine and Byelorussia. The project’s top agenda, she says, is to demonstrate the spiritual and cultural commonalities of the Slavs, who once lived in one state. All followed a particular path of development and witnessed a golden age at different times. But, the idea of the display is to appeal to common traditions, which manifested themselves in the Orthodox faith with icons as its artistic expression.

Iconography arrived in Russia from Byzantium shortly after Russia was baptised in the 10th century. Even though the icon remained under the influence of the Greek ascetic tradition for many years, it absorbed the images, colours, and traditions of Russia. The pinnacle of Old Russian church art was reached in the works painted by the 15th century monk and iconographer St Andrei Rublyov, who enriched the traditional biblical scenes with a new spiritual and philosophical touch. His masterpiece, “Holy Trinity”, came to symbolise the consolidation of the Russian lands around Moscow and the strengthening of Russian statehood.

The Tretyakov Gallery is presenting masterpieces of the 14th to 16th centuries, a golden age in Russian iconography. The artworks illustrate the wide variety of medieval religious art schools in Yaroslavl, Suzdal, Novgorod the Great, Pskov, and Moscow. The Ukrainian and Byelorussian icons on display are of the 16th to 19th centuries, painted in different styles ranging from post-Byzantine to Baroque and classicism. By virtue of their historical circumstances, the iconographic traditions of the Ukraine and Byelorussia fell under the influence of Western European patterns. But, in the words of the exhibition’s curator, Nadezhda Bekenyova, these countries’ sacred painting grew out of the Old Russian tradition. The tall iconostas, which originated in Russia in the 14th century, arrived in Ukraine and Byelorussia later. It’s interesting to compare the principal images depicted on Orthodox icons, which included Christ the Saviour, the Mother of God, and the saints.

Undoubtedly, the exhibition has attracted a great number of art historians, but, its significance goes much farther, said Vladimir Prokoptsov, the Director of the National Art Museum of Byelorussia. “This unique project has cultural, political, and religious importance. Culture is a way to show politicians how to work jointly to maximum effect”. The exhibition opens its doors for the first time at the Moscow Tretyakov Gallery at the end of May, during the Festival of Slav Culture and Alphabet. It will then travel to Kiev and Minsk.

30 April 2008

Voice of Russia World Service



Tuesday, 29 April 2008

29 April 2008. A Shot of Culture, if you please…

Rodion Shchedrin and Maya Plisetskaya

Winners of Soul of the Dance national ballet contest to be awarded in Moscow

A ceremony to honour the winners of the 14th Soul of the Dance national ballet contest will take place in Moscow today. Composer Rodion Schchendrin, the author of numerous ballets composed for his wife, the legendary ballerina Maya Plisetskaya, was awarded the special title of “the Magician of the Dance”. A gala concert will follow the awards ceremony.

29 April 2008


A new version of the ballet Spartacus to be presented in St Petersburg

Tonight’s première of a new production of Aram Khachaturian’s classic ballet Spartacus at St Petersburg’s Mikhailovsky Theatre, which thus marks is 175th anniversary, is not just another opening of another show, but, it is an important event in the cultural life of St Petersburg. Aram Khachaturian’s 1954 score to the story of the leader of a slave uprising in ancient Rome is widely considered a modern masterpiece. The new staging aims to combine dance, music, opera, and choral singing to provide a theatrical epic worthy of its antecedents. There are two tigresses portrayed in the ballet, whose predatory and gracious movements are repeated by the tiger-like gestures of Spartacus and the other characters. There will be tough fights between gladiators and amazons with realistic weapons.

29 April 2008


Annual Easter Music Festival launched in Russia

A concert by Russian and Serbian choirs at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow launched Russia’s annual Easter Music Festival. This should last two weeks and involve about 20 cities. The programme spans the musical heritage of four centuries. One regular feature is concerts by bell-ringers.

28 April 2008


Cherry Garden Art Festival opens in Moscow

A wonderful art exhibition, “In the Family Circle”, will be one of the most outstanding events of the Cherry Garden Art Festival, which is currently in progress in Russia. It will open today at the Pushkin Fine Arts Museum, at the entrance to which the participants of the festival planted cherry trees. On display at the exposition are old pictures glorifying family values and the works of the students of the art studio attached to the museum. Young musicians will give a concert on the opening day.

28 April 2008


International Book Salon kicks off in St Petersburg

The International Book Salon kicks off in St Petersburg today. The leading Russian and 12 foreign publishing houses arrived in the city to take part in the event. Hundreds of various events, seminars, and meetings with famous writers and actors will be held within “The Time to Read” programme. The jury will announce the laureates of “The Best Book of the Year” nomination and will announce the winners of the family competition “Books in My Family”.

24 April 2008


Voice of Russia World Service

Monday, 28 April 2008

On the Wings of Angels… An Easter in Jordanville

Filed under: Christian,inspirational,Orthodox life,religious,Russian,USA — 01varvara @ 00.00

Nicky and I went to services at the monastery for Holy Easter on Saturday evening. Again, we decided not to take the main motorway, for we felt that the time savings were minimal and did not justify the tolls. Not only that, but the motorway is a rather sterile place with nothing but the noise of the traffic about one. Instead, we were treated to the lovely sounds of God’s nature coming from the fields about us. We could hear the chirping of the crickets in the grass and the croaking of the frogs in the ponds. It was as though the natural world was praising its Maker… let everything that breathes praise the Lord! As there was minimal traffic on Route 20, we made very good time and we arrived at the monastery at 22.40 after leaving Albany at 21.15.

When we entered the main church, it was darkened and one of the seminarians was reading the Acts of the Apostles. I listened carefully… it was in perfectly accented SPANISH. This made my ears prick up, certainly. An older lady came in a wheelchair and was having difficulty in negotiating the crowd in the nave. Some of us helped her to manoeuvre about and held her chair for her so that she could light candles and venerate the plashchanitsa (the full-length icon of Our Lord Christ laid out in the tomb laid on a bier). Nicky and I got on line for confession. As we were waiting to make our confessions and receive absolution the bells were tolled in a funereal manner at 23.00. The choir came out into the centre of the nave near the plashchanitsa and sang the midnight office. This took some 45 minutes to serve. It came my turn for confession, and I poured out my heart to Fr George, the priest on duty. When the midnight office concluded, the church was silent. For some 15 minutes, from 23.45 to midnight, the church was in silence, and the only sound was the tolling of the bells in the funeral tone. The clergy removed the plashchanitsa from the nave, and generally made preparations for the procession around the church. It was raining slightly, and my knees were acting up due to a recent injury, so, I stood on the porch during the procession. Just prior to the procession coming to the church, one of the monks rushed onto the porch and rudely shouted at the people on the porch in a brusque manner. THAT wasn’t necessary.

We re-entered the church and the Easter Matins began. The sanctuary was lit as bright as it could be, and the joyous shouts of Khristos Voskrese, Khristos Anesti, and Christ is Risen could be heard echoing about the church. The replies of Voistinnu Voskrese, Aleithos Anesti, and Indeed, He is Risen echoed in response to each proclamation. The chief celebrants were Fr George and Fr Luke (I stand under correction in this). There was the usual controlled and happy confusion of a Russian service, as was illustrated by the crowd pulling back instinctively from the clergy as they incensed the church and made the Easter proclamation. To be honest, one can see the same thing amongst all the traditional Orthodox nationalities. You see it in Greece, you see it in Serbia, you see it Rumania, in fact, wherever there are Orthodox Christians, you see it. This is what the recent converts lack. They are not comfortable being Orthodox. That is why they need time to take it all in, time they are not given in the OCA and AOCANA.

Well, my knees were close to collapse, so I sat for the remainder of the services, “for it is better to sit and think about God than to stand and think of one’s feet”. Of course, I stood for the Gospel and the consecration, for that is proper. Although the church was packed, there was good order throughout it all. One observes the people about one, and it was a snapshot of all the types there are in the Church. There was the ill-at-ease affluent couple standing together (instead of being on their respective sides, as were all the rest of us). Young fathers had their hands full with toddler sons on the men’s side. Mothers sat with their infants. Iova the Fool was there. One fellow was wearing his Cossack ensemble. Grandmas and grandpas, moms and pops, kids and teens, we were all there for the feast. In fact, I would say that it was a youngish crowd, which, of course, is a very good sign.

Towards the end of the matins the clergy gave the Easter greeting one to another. There was an interesting little detail in this. The three acolytes serving were part of this, and it pleased me to see how the clergy reacted in a very spontaneous and paternal way to the smallest of the three, who appeared to be about five-years-old. From my vantage point, I could see their smiles and fatherly embraces of the tyke. It gave a special glow to the whole undertaking, and it reminded me of the Scripture saying, And a little child shall lead them. At 01.30, the service segued into the Liturgy proper. The Gospel was read in Slavonic, Greek, Latin, English, and German. At 02.40, the communion of the laity began. There were two chalices, yet, it took some 20 minutes to commune all of the faithful. After this, the liturgy quickly came to a conclusion, ending at 03.15. I saw Nicky’s sister Christina and gave her the Easter greeting.

After the liturgy, the brotherhood gave the Easter greeting personally to all who were present. I remember a beaming monk from Russia who joyously and loudly said “Christ is Risen!” in a heavy Russian accent. This illustrates one of the changes that are going to happen at Jordanville. The folks from Russia are not obsessed with preserving “Russian culture”. If you want that, you need only hop a plane to the rodina. Of course, our ancestral culture IS important; it does mark us off from Anglo-Saxons. However, I believe that the MP wishes to use Jordanville in particular and the ROCOR in general, as a missionary arm of the Church. This change in the ROCOR’s calling is beginning to come into focus, and I believe that there are those who oppose such. This is why all Russian Orthodox Christians in the Americas belong in the MP. We need to be engrafted yet again onto the mother tree, which is bearing such sweet and abundant fruit. It is time to “leave childish things behind” as the Apostle told us. There shall be those who shall choose to not leave the sandbox. What I saw on Easter in Jordanville is etched in my memory. To my Russian Orthodox brothers and sisters I say, “Come and see”. When you have seen, I know that you shall feel as I do. It is time for us to fulfil our Lord’s prayer, That they may be as one. It is the best gift that we can give our children.





Vara Drezhlo

28 April 2008

Easter Monday

The Holy Fire Shall Strengthen the Resolve of the Russian Athletes Competing in the Beijing Olympics

Leonid Tyagachev with President Vladimir Putin

Leonid Tyagachev, the President of the Russian Olympic Committee, shall transport the Holy Fire to the Olympics in Beijing. Mr Tyagachev was present in Jerusalem for the miracle of the Holy Fire and he is confident that its presence amongst the Russian sportsmen shall help them to win medals in the Olympic competitions, the newspaper Izvestiya wrote on Monday. He shared his impressions of his pilgrimage to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem along with a delegation from the St Andrew the First-called Foundation, which later brought the Holy Fire back to Russia. Mr Tyagachev related that this was the first time that he witnessed the miracle of the Holy Fire. “It was not what I had expected. Nevertheless, it is a holy place”, he said. He commented on the traditional crush of the crowd, the commotion, and the sporadic clashes between different groups of believers inside a church packed with some 10,000 worshippers.

The famous actor Nikolai Burliaev, Honoured Artist of Russia, also shared his impressions of the trip. For Mr Burliaev, it was also the first time that he witnessed the miracle. “I was surprised at the attitude of those about me, for almost no one was praying. There were shouts, pushing, attempts to seize a better vantage-point, and people dug their elbows into their neighbours. I thought, ‘Shall the Holy Fire descend to us sinners? Shall we leave the church and relate to one another just we did before?’” Mr Burliaev stated that he often prays in church, and that “I prayed some three times in five hours at the Holy Sepulchre. Everything was distracting. Is the miracle going to be sent to those such as us? But, it came! It means that we shall live further and be cleansed”.

28 April 2008



Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.