Takhoma Park, MD – Tenors from the church choir at tiny All Saints of North America Orthodox Church here in Takhoma Park have walked off the job, citing the lack of variety in their parts in the church music. Your intrepid editor was on the story like yellow on that saffron rice Baba Olga makes.
“Three notes was bad enough,” said tenor Bob (“Tsarevich Alexiy, the Martyr or Passion-Bearer, Depending on Whom You Ask”) Bridges. “Then this new Cherubic Hymn brought it down to two. And we’re not talking ison here, oh no, the basses get notes all over the place. Here, look!”
Your intrepid editor saw a lot of lines and dots, and nodded sagely.
“Our old priest, Father John, was a tenor,” explained tenor Bill (“Basil the Great”) Fellini. “But Father Peter, bless his heart, is a bass, and you know what that means.”
“Hey, what’s that supposed to mean?” asked bass Tom (“Thomas the Enlightener of India”) Sengupta.
“It means you guys get all the notes, and we don’t get any.”
“Is outrage!” said Father Vasiliy Vasileivich, parish priest at Sts. Vladimir and Olga and Boris and Gleb Russian Orthodox Church, Sydney, Australia (COROC), and winner of the 2016 “Write a Better Hymn” contest, Australia division. “Was it fancy music in nineteenth century Russia? No it was not. It was melody and ison and everybody was happy.”
“Didn’t Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov and other composers write a lot of very elaborate church music in nineteenth century Russia?” asked Bridges.
“Oh, to look at time!” said Father Vasiliy. “Must be going.” And he did.
The tenors picked up their signs again and continued walking around the church. “We want more notes!” they chanted in the fourth tone (Obikhod).
“Why can’t they be happy supporting us?” asked one of the sopranos.
“You sopranos need to support yourselves so you don’t keep sliding down into our range,” said one of the altos.
“What’s all this?” asked Father Peter (“for goodness’ sake don’t mention the Papacy”) Peterson, parish priest at All Saints of N.A.
“The tenors don’t like your Cherubic Hymn,” explained choir director Elizabeth (“the New Martyr”) Pappas.
“Don’t tell me, not enough notes,” said Fr. Peter.
“Okay, I won’t tell you,” said Pappas.
“I have a new one here,” said Fr. Peter. “How does this one look?”
The tenors put down their picket signs and looked at the sheet music. Bridges quickly scanned the score.
“Seven notes?” he cried. “How are we going to remember seven notes?”
“We want fewer notes!” he cried. Soon the rest of the tenors had taken up the chant (in the eighth tone, Kievan).
“Let them strike,” said Pappas. “when the Dormition Fast comes they’ll beg to be let back in so they can sing ‘Rejoice O Unwedded Bride.’”
“Oooh, is that going to be in today’s rehearsal?” asked Bridges.
“You’ll have to come and find out,” said Pappas.
“Fellas,” said Bridges, “perhaps we were a bit hasty.”
Copyright © 2016 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.