St. George Serbian Orthodox Church Choir celebrates 50 years of making music
A little bit of Serbia lives on in the songs of the St. George Serbian Orthodox Church Choir. Next Saturday, the Duluth choir will celebrate its 50th anniversary in the Serbian Singing Federation with a concert that includes five other choirs. On...
A little bit of Serbia lives on in the songs of the St. George Serbian Orthodox Church Choir.
Next Saturday, the Duluth choir will celebrate its 50th anniversary in the Serbian Singing Federation with a concert that includes five other choirs.
On Wednesday evening, the St. George Choir rehearsed in the church's social hall. Nearly 20 singers, led by Stephanie Boyat, practiced the same songs the choir performed in concert 50 years ago.
While the choir has been a part of the Serbian Singing Federation for 50 years, the choir had performed for years before it joined the federation. Five people have been choir members for more than 50 years: Marlene Balach, 70; Carol Griak, 70; Sam Miscevich, 72; Mary Lawrence, 83; and Shirley Balach, 83.
In addition to singing responses in Serbian and English during worship services, the choir performs at concerts around the country, Sam Miscevich said. Among the cities visited have been Detroit, Chicago, Dallas, Pittsburgh, and Omaha, Neb. Trips are financed by twice-a-year pasty sales at the church.
Mary Lawrence said the choir is the most active organization in the church in Duluth's Gary neighborhood. Marlene Balach added that it's probably the most active Orthodox church choir in the state.
Marlene Balach was about 13 years old when she began sneaking into the choir to sing. "I always enjoyed music," she said, adding that she also enjoys the camaraderie of the choir.
A couple of the longtime choir members speak the Serbian language fluently because they learned it from their parents or grandparents. The church was built in 1923 by Serbian immigrants and about 60 percent of its current members are of Serbian descent, the Rev. Zoran Savic said. He's a native of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
While some younger members frequently refer to their sheet music as they rehearse, the longtime singers know many of the old Serbian tunes by heart. Miscevich said many of the old songs have to do with war or history or love.
"We're all very proud of our heritage," Lawrence said. "That's what keeps the choir going here."
LINDA HANSON covers family issues and religion. She can be reached weekdays at (218) 723-5335 or by e-mail at email@example.com .