Easter and St. George’s Day Concert in Kichevo

The third week of Holy Pascha, dedicated to the Myrrh-bearing Women and the noble Joseph and Nicodemus, brought great Paschal joy to Kichevo. Indeed, with the blessing of our esteemed Metropolitan Mr. Timothy of Debar-Kichevo and with the blessing and initiative of our Elder, Bishop Antanisian Mr. Partenij, last night at the NU Cultural Center “Kocho Racin”, a cultural-artistic event of great cultural significance for Kichevo took place. This is the first concert of its kind in Kichevo and, generally, the first spiritual-cultural event in a long time, to which the people of Kichevo responded wholeheartedly and with great admiration, filling the Cultural Center’s hall to its capacity.

In the packed hall, where there was not enough room for all interested, so many had to sit on the floor, several artistic ensembles performed a meaningful program related to the Paschal celebration and the commemoration of Saint George the Victorious. Among the present listeners were our Elder, Bishop Mr. Partenij, Archimandrite Mr. Dositej, monks and nuns, presbyters, representatives from the municipality, and numerous guests and friends.

At the beginning, on behalf of the organizers, thanks were given to the mayor of Kichevo, Mr. Fatmir Dehari, and all his collaborators, by the concert host, Ms. Sofija Koteska, for “acting as true and generous hosts, with a high consciousness of coexistence and cooperation equally to all citizens, allowed this event to be held for the first time.” This was followed by words of gratitude to Metropolitan Mr. Timothy “who, as our beloved archpastor, cares for the well-being in the temples and the spiritual health of his flock and hence we seek his holy blessing.”

The organizers also thanked “our respected spiritual leader and Elder, Bishop Antanisian Mr. Partenij, Abbot of the Holy Bigorski Monastery, also our teacher in goodness, beauty, and the sublime. He is our motivator and our inspiration, as well as the initiator of today’s wonderful event.”

On stage, the youngest talents from the music school “Mini Musicians” of Professor Bojan Đošić first showcased their artistic skills on the piano with instrumental compositions by the great classical composers: Mozart, Beethoven, and Chopin. They were followed by the choir of young and talented students from OMU “Dr. Vladimir Poležinovski”, who, like angels praising Christ’s Resurrection in Heaven, sang the glory: “Thy Resurrection, O Christ Savior.”

The gratitude of our people for the powerful intercession of Saint George was expressed through song and dance by the KUD “Biser” from Kichevo, with the beautiful performance of the famous “St. George’s Medley” and “Kopachija”. The virtuoso performance by the group “Čalgii Merak”, protectors and preservers of Macedonian Čalgija music, followed. This group, composed of several top musicians, first performed the “Kasapsko Oro”, and then, together with our beloved friend Mr. Lambe Alabakovski, performed two folk songs from the Ohrid-Kichevo region, especially beloved among the people: “Se sobrale komitite” and “Pesna za Hristo Uzunov”.

The central performance of the entire event was given to the Kichevo choir of Eastern Church and traditional singing “Metropolitan Kozma of Prečista”. This choir was founded almost a year ago at the Kichevo church “Saints Peter and Paul”, in the Debar-Kichevo diocese headed by Metropolitan Mr. Timothy, at the desire and initiative of Bishop Mr. Partenij. The choir was founded by the trio of professors of Eastern Church (Byzantine) singing: Mr. Dimitar Ugrinovski, Mr. Filip Tintoski, and Mr. Hristijan Vasilevski, with Dimitar as the choir conductor. Currently, the choir consists of about forty members, most of whom are youths and children. Yesterday, they, accompanied by “Čalgii Merak” and Lambe Alabakovski, wonderfully performed several church and folk songs. From their mouths, the kontakion for Saint Lazarus, Christ’s Friend, whose resurrection by Christ is a testament to the general Resurrection, was first sung. In the spirit of the Paschal celebration, the Choir performed a part of the Paschal Canon sung at Christ’s Resurrection. This spiritual delight was followed by the performance of the kontakion for Saint George the Great Martyr, which was sung for the first time in our midst. The concert repertoire was rounded off with the triumphant troparion for the Resurrection “Christ is risen from the dead”, sung in Macedonian, Church Slavonic, and Albanian languages.

The concert was a great gift to all present in the hall, especially to our beloved Elder, Bishop Mr. Partenij, who truly rejoiced at these fruits of obedience and the full dedication of all those who participated in making this sublime event possible. Aware that behind this beautiful God-pleasing work stand the blessing, love, and prayers of Bishop Partenij, and grateful for all his parental care and sacrifice, the choir “Metropolitan Kozma of Prečista” presented our Elder with a ceremonial plaque and an honorary filigree ivory medallion with the choir’s logo engraved on it:

“Finally, keeping in mind the words of Saint Apostle Paul, who says: Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. (Heb. 13:7), on behalf of all of us organizers and participants of the Concert, we would like to heartily thank once again the teacher-personality, our spiritual father, the giant of our hearts, without whom none of this would have been possible, our beloved Elder, Bishop Antanisian and Abbot of the Holy Bigorski Monastery, Mr. Partenij. We thank you for showing us the love of Christ which changed this world; for making us realize that although this world suffers much and all, regardless of their religious, national, and social affiliation – suffer, yet, because of Christ’s love, it can be very joyful and all, and every day we are called to live the Paschal joy. We thank you for your unconditional love and support without which all this would not have been possible. Many years to you, our beloved Elder!”

Touched by the love of his spiritual children, the Elder gratefully addressed them and all of us:

“I thank you for the love and the gift, although I am not so deserving of them. I especially thank you for this wonderful gift that we see before us, the choir at the church “Saints Peter and Paul”, which bears the name of the glorious Metropolitan of Debar, Kozma of Prečista, whose relics rest in the Monastery of Prečista.

By God’s providence, this Sunday by the Church is dedicated to the Holy Myrrh-bearing Women and as such represents a special joy for women. These women, disciples of Christ, were first deemed worthy to see our Savior Lord Jesus Christ resurrected. Looking at the Choir, I noticed that maybe twice as many members in it are women, so I was reminded of the Holy Myrrh-bearers. Women are often such: they approach faith with heart and love the Lord wholeheartedly. These days, pondering this Sunday, it came to my mind the people’s saying that often states that the man is the head of the family. Then, we can freely say that the woman is the heart of the family and the community. Therefore, it’s no coincidence that the first evangelists of the Resurrection are precisely women. The Holy Tradition tells us that the resurrected Christ first, naturally, appeared to His Mother, the Most Holy Theotokos, Who knew and awaited the Resurrection, to comfort and rejoice her, while the Gospel records that among other people the Myrrh-bearing Women were those who first saw the gloriously Resurrected. Thus, to all of you women present here, in this beautiful atmosphere, I wish you to be like the Myrrh-bearing Women and always to proclaim the joy of life in Christ. To the choir, however, I wish to grow more with men apostles, so next year it may be even more numerous.

On this occasion, I especially want to thank Mother Haritina, the abbess of the Monastery of Prečista, and her Christ-like sisterhood, for their obedience and their deeds, love, and effort they put into our world and the great Monastery of the Most Holy Theotokos. Because of their sacrifice, namely, we today have these beautiful spiritual fruits. Let us pray the Most Holy Theotokos to grant them gracious powers, to persevere in their endeavor and their sisterhood God to multiply with more sisters, and the faith in this city and in our entire homeland to further strengthen and grow. Be blessed! Christ is risen!”