Greetings, my fellow port-swillers!

Do you know this man?  His name was Mykola Dmytrovych Leontovych (1877-1921).  He was a Ukrainian composer, choral conductor and priest.  His best-known work today (at least in the West) is his “Carol of the Bells”, a piece which I have noticed tends to have a polarizing effect – people seem either to really like it or really hate it.  Personally, although I have family members who would  disagree violently, I happen to enjoy it.  I especially enjoyed the rendition put on last Thursday evening by the eldest gel’s 8th grade class at her school pageant, where I first heard of Leontovych.  (Up till then I hadn’t the faintest idea where “Carol of the Bells” originated.)

Here’s something else I learned:  The man is a martyr of the Eastern Orthodox Ukrainian Church, where he is remembered for, among other religious works, composing the first liturgy in the modern Ukrainian language.  Soviet goons murdered him in 1921.  Hearing these facts about him at the pageant added a certain something to the performance, at least in my mind, giving it a sense of defiance against the forces of darkness.  That’s probably how I’ll think of it from now on.

And speaking of performances, might I beg my fellow port-swillers to indulge me in just a bit of parental boasting?  I may? Thank you!  Regular friends of the decanter will know that I have often spoken of the middle gel’s angelic singing and her regular wowing of the congregations at RFEC.  Well, I am pleased (and still a bit gob-smacked) to announce that, following an audition a few weeks ago, she has been accepted into the Novice Choristers Program at the National Cathedral.  Mind you, this is only a first step – the Novice Program is a sort of choral boot-camp to see whether the little darlings “fit” into the overall scheme of things.  After that, she still has to be accepted at the Cathedral School for seventh grade, and, not being of the Beautiful People, we still have to figure out how on earth to pay for it.  And, if she does make it into the Cathedral Choir, that’s essentially her life (and ours) for the next few years.  However, seeing that she is both so talented and such a hard worker, we decided to swing for the fences on this one.  If we can somehow get over and around all the ifs and buts, the opportunity is simply too good to pass up.  And even if it doesn’t work out, I consider the fact that she’s been invited to participate to be a signal honor in and of itself.

Ol’ Robbo couldn’t be prouder.