Here we are in Kiev at 11:30p.m. on Monday night, July 5. In trying to share with all of you, I will need to divide this day into two parts. First, getting to know more about the historic Kiev. Second, celebrating our Independence and freedom in the Joint Freedom Concert with the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra and Chorus (KSOC).
Kiev is a very old and historic city. We have loved being here these past 5 days. It has been a busy schedule becoming acquainted with Music Mission Kiev (MMK) and its many ministries here in this city and country. I have already shared with you many aspects of their Widows Ministry and then our worship at St. Paul's Evangelical Church. All of this has not left a lot of time to really see some of the most beautiful and interesting sites here in Kiev. Well, today we had free time until after 3:00p.m. Thus, many of us went on a sightseeing tour. Our city guide on the Blue Bus took us first to the St. Sophia Cathedral which dates it history back to the 11th century. Today, it is a museum which is protected by UNESCO. We could see parts of this cathedral which dates back to its earliest age. Many other sections of the church have been restored over the years. With the sun shining and the sky a deep blue, it was quite spectacular seeing the golden domes of the church gleam in the sunlight. Looking out from the entrance of the St. Sophia Bell Tower, you look down the broad street to St. Michael's Cathedral. Again golden domes glisten in the light contrasting with the beautiful blue walls of the church. The original church was destroyed by Stalin in the 1930's in order to build large government buildings on that sight. However, with the beginning of World War II and the German invasion of the Soviet Union (Ukraine was part of the USSR), they only completed on of the buildings. The rest were never built. Therefore, in 1991 after Ukraine gained its independence from Russia, they began to rebuild St. Michael's. In as much as many pictures and sketches existed showing St. Michael's, it is probably the most accurately restored building in Kiev. A third sight we visited was St. Andrew's Church - another magnificent building. At this point, many of our group visited the many stalls where you can pick up all kinds of things at a reasonable price. In other words, SHOPPING. For some of us, that was not an interest, and we headed back to the hotel. It was a hot morning, and a cold shower felt very refreshing.
Enough about part one and sightseeing. What was of great impact and significance was our preparation for and performance of our Joint Freedom Concert held at the Organi Musici Dom, or the Organ Music Hall. The building is actually the St.Nicholas Church - a gorgeous Polish Catholic Church. You can guess from its new name that it is used primarily for concerts. This is the venue where the KSOC performs most of their major concerts. Paul Smith and I had visited this church back in 2008 when we were on our Planning Trip. The church holds 600 people, and the performance was sold out. It was a tremendously exciting concert featuring many American songs or music by American composers. We opened with the Ukrainian National Anthem followed by the Star Spangle Banner. We processed to the chancel singing a John Rutter arrangement of "All Creatures of our God and King." This was followed up with our two choirs singing a great arrangement of America the Beautiful, and the L. L. Fleming arrangement of Give Me Jesus. This is the Give Me Jesus arrangement which the choir sang on our 2003 Ministry Tour. At this point our choir was able to return to their seats and get off our feet. The KSOC continue by singing the Mack Wilberg arrangement of Shenandoah. The orchestra and a truly superb pianist performed George Gershwins's Rhapsody in Blue. This was followed by a Mark Hayes arrangement of Camptown Races. This KSOC section continued with an exciting arrangement of New York, New York. You may remember this from when they performed at Solana Beach in the fall of 2008. Part I of the program concluded with Ovid Young's arrangement of God Bless America with both of our choirs singing.
The second half of the program, following an Intermission, got off to a fabulous start with the KSOC orchestra playing the Fanfare for the Common Man by Aaron Copland. Our joint choirs then sang the John Rutter arrangement of the Battle Hymn of the Republic and the spiritual, Steal Away. At this point, the KSOC chorus was able to sit down as our Solana choir sang two number by themselves: My soul's Been Anchored, and Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel - - both of these numbers coming from the program we have been presenting in Budapest and now in Kiev. The KSOC then took over while we sat with Aaron Copoland's Buckaroo Holiday from "Rodeo", and Jester Hairston's spiritual, Hold On. The KSOC then concluded their own section with great arrangements of Yankee Doodle, and You're a Grand Old Flag. The evening's program concluded with both choirs and orchestra presenting Tchaikowsky's 1812 Overture. Some of you may not know that there is a choral arrangement which opens with the choirs, and then concludes with the choirs. It was a fabulous performance by the orchestra - and not a bad one by the joint choirs.
We were exhausted by the end of the concert. It was extrmely hot in the church and we were literally dripping by the end. MMK provided food for a wonderful time with the KSOC orchestra and chorus in a reception in a building right next to the church. When we came out of the reception, it was pouring down rain. We ran for our buses - some people had their umbrellas, but many of us did not. A very interesting way to end a fantastic evening together. The program and time together with our Ukrainian friends was everything we had hoped for. Praise the Lord.
Now, I am going up to bed (it is after midnight), so I will say "Goodnight to all of you dear people."