The Catholicos, His Holiness Karekin II, is going to be in town this weekend. There are a number of events for different age groups, culminating in His Holiness celebrating badarak on Sunday.
I will be singing in the choir on Sunday; I am very excited and honored to have this opportunity. I would not enjoy the Armenian Church nearly as much as I do if I was not able to participate in the choir on Sundays. It makes me feel more involved in the service. In order to participate on this particular Sunday, I have to attend 2 rehearsals that are 4 hours long each. For the Catholicos visits, Maestro Khoren Mekanejian is conducting the choirs for every stop on His Holiness's tour through the Eastern Diocese. We had our first rehearsal last weekend, and we have another one this Saturday.
I feel really lucky to be able to work with Maestro Mekanejian, even for this brief amount of time. I have never had a proper "rehearsal" of the music for the services. The churches that I have attended didn't have rehearsals, since you do basically the same thing every Sunday. I just had to pick it up as we went along. I am not sure that I would have been able to do this successfully if I did not read music. So although the choir directors at the churches that I have attended have often been top-notch, it is hard to benefit from their knowledge without much rehearsal time. Maestro Mekanejian really worked hard with us to get everything just right- getting the pronunciation right (some folks here speak Armenian with a local accent!!), getting the phrasing right, getting the volume and beats right. It was very educational.
Sadly, there isn't a big turnout for the choir, I think because there are 8 hours of mandatory rehearsals. This is tough for people to make, but I wish more people had made the effort. There are about 20 people who are going to sing in the choir, almost all women. There are only a few men.
Why don't more men sing in the choir? I assume that this is because they all want to be deacons; the men in the choirs at the churches I have been to are all older gentleman who are past their deaconing days. At my old church, all the deacons were under the age of 30 (many many high school boys, which is so nice to see), and there are a LOT of them, so there was some talk about having them alternate being on the altar and singing in the choir, so they would learn the tenor or bass parts to the choir music, and we could have some extra men. This sounds like a great idea to me. I would love to see more men and boys get involved in the choir.
Tonight is the Young Professionals event with the Catholicos; my husband and I are going to this one. The events for the children and teenagers are tomorrow during the day, and tomorrow night is the big banquet. We are skipping the banquet because tickets are $150 a person and the YP event is free (yay!). Then there's service on Sunday. I will try to take pictures tonight, and have my husband take pictures on Sunday (if possible).