On Saturday, April 21, the eve of the Sunday of the Holy Myrrh-bearing Women, the Holy Myrrhbearers Women’s Choir, renowned throughout the Russian Diaspora and under the direction of Matushka Eugenia Temidis, sang the All-Night Vigil in New York City’s Synodal Cathedral of the Sign for the 21st time in its existence.
This choir is a rare phenomenon in the Russian Diaspora, as it is comprised entirely of laywomen. The choir’s founder, conductor, and musical director is Eugenia Temidis. Since childhood, she listened to the choir led by her grandfather, Georgii Ivanovich Samoilovich, learning Church Slavonic, reading and singing on the kliros in her parish in Nyack, NY.
Twenty-one years ago, Eugenia thought how good it would be to sing the divine service for the feast of the Holy Myrrh-bearing Women with just the women’s part of the mixed parish choir of Holy Virgin Protection Church in Nyack. At first, the singers performed only some of the hymns; soon they invited women singers from other parishes, and later would sing the entire service to the Heavenly patronesses of their parish sisterhood.
The choir was founded by women and for women; rather than by professional singers, it was made by "amateurs" in the classic sense of the word: lovers of church hymnody. For the most part, its members lived in New York State, but some of them live in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. The choir performs exclusively church hymns, often by such composers and P. Chesnokov, J. Gardner, S. Trubachev, A. Ledkovsky, N. Kedrov, and uses in its work the ancient monastic melodies of the Kiev Caves, Pochaev, and Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavras.
A defining event for the choir was its performance in 2001 at the celebratory banquet in honor of the newly elected First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad – Metropolitan Laurus. It was then that the singers were given a blessing to call themselves a diocesan choir of ROCOR’s Eastern American Diocese.
This year, in addition to New York, women gathered from Philadelphia, Vermont, Cleveland, and Poughkeepsie to honor the Holy Myrrh-bearing Women.
Upon completion of the service, the singers had a wonderful opportunity to interact in an informal setting, sharing their Paschal joy with one another. Matushka Eugenia sincerely thanked all of the participants for their beautiful singing, and expressed her gratitude to all who had offered their support.