Monday, October 15, 2012

The Power of Music

Saturday night we hosted four of the performers in the Kiev Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. This is about the fifth time we have provided beds for the talented performers from this group.
We became involved about ten years ago when we were asked to host two orchestra members. At their first concert, we were completely blown away! They are perhaps the finest performers I have ever heard—and that’s saying a great deal. For years, we had season tickets for several venues, including the Hollywood Bowl. We have heard some of the best groups in the world. And these folks can compete with any of them.

They are part of Music Mission Kiev ( founded by Roger McMurrin in 1992. The group usually does a US tour every other year, often performing here in Southern California.

We’d previously hosted two male performers. This time we had four.

Until the last tour before this one, we’d had instrumentalists. However, the last time, we hosted two of the younger singers, Vilen Kilchenko (Tenor) and Lev Remeniev (Tenor). They were also part of another Ukrainian award-winning vocal group, ConCord. (Lev is fourth from the left, and Vilen is fifth in the photo below.)
These young men received a great deal of adulation as competitors in the Ukraine’s Got Talent competition ( There are two other videos on YouTube with short clips of a few of their songs, including their actual competition on the TV show. ( and The videos are in Ukrainian, but it is easy to understand what is happening, and the music is fabulous. (I have their CD on my iPod, and I love it.)

After they performed on Saturday night and again during worship on Sunday morning, the two young men accompanied Larry and me to see my mother. At the time, she was living in a nursing home. She was quite senile, but she still remembered who we were.

When we visited, I quite often played the piano for my mom as music was one of the few ways in which she could still be reached.

On this day, these dear young men performed a terrific a cappella mini-concert for her and the other residents of the nursing home. Instead of the indifference and lack of enthusiasm which was often her response to our visits, Mom came alive with the sounds from these sweet guys.

She smiled and obviously enjoyed every minute of their visit.

On Saturday night, we saw Lev again and were able to thank him once more for bringing joy to my mother. She died last year, but the visit from these special young men is one of my favorite memories of her final years.

At the end of her life, when she had lost nearly all her memory, music still remained a way to connect to her. I will always be grateful for the music she brought to my life and for the music I was able to bring into hers, even as she faded away.

I hope we will have another opportunity to host musicians from Kiev again on their next trip. Each time has been a very special experience for us, and we hope for them as well.


  1. What a great thing to surround yourself with art. How can you help to be inspired!!

    1. John, the amazing thing about this group is that their ninety instrumentalists and singers are always housed in private homes. It's truly a gift to connect with another culture.
      We have hosted foreign students for many years, as well. When we lived in Japan building the Universal Studios Japan theme park, we saw not only five of the six Japanese students we had hosted, but quite a few of the others who had stayed with friends here.
      We have a dear 'daughter' in Spain (actually the Canary Islands) and many more friends around the world. The bonus with the Kiev musicians is that they bring fabulous music with them!