Choir members singing at the Mount Vernon Unitarian Universalist Church last Friday all shared a common bond. The members of the Kolozsvar Unitarian Kollegium are all students from Kolozsvar, Romania, the birthplace of the Unitarian faith.
The 30 members of this special touring choir range in age from 14 to 19 years old, all students at the Unitarian High School in Kolozsvar. They were selected for this special tour from the larger choir resident there.
They started a 15-venue tour of the Unitarian Universalist churches (UU) in the Washington area with concerts this past week at the River Road and Cedar Lane UU Churches in Bethesda, the UU Congregation of Fairfax in Oakton and the Mount Vernon Unitarian Church.
Under the direction of Julianna Klara Majo, the choir performed works in Hungarian and English by composers including J.S. Bach, W. A. Mozart, Henry Purcell and Igor Stravinsky. Several American Spirituals were also on the program.
Their tour will include additional performances in the Philadelphia area, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. They will also sing at locations throughout Massachusetts, where in addition to other concerts, the group will sing at the opening ceremony of the UU General Assembly on June 26.
The Kollegium Choir is the largest group of Transylvanian Unitarians to visit the United States at once. While the choir has performed extensively throughout Romania and in Hungary, this is by far their longest journey to date. The concert series has been arranged in large part by members of the Unitarian Universalist Partner Church program, with member churches from throughout America.
AS PART OF this program many UU congregations in the U.S. have formed partnerships with Unitarian churches in the Transylvania section of Romania. Many American partner churches have sent members to visit churches in the cities, towns and villages of Transylvania during the past six years, as the partner church program has grown in popularity.
Recently, 10 youth from the Mount Vernon UU Church community visited Romania during their spring break. While in Kolozsvar many of the youth stayed with families of touring choir members. Mount Vernon families returned the favor last week while the Romanians were in the Alexandria area.
The Unitarian Kollegium in Koloszvar is one of the oldest schools in Europe and was founded in 1557. It was in continuous operation until 1948, when the Romanian Communist government closed the school, but the Kollegium reopened in 1993. During the last decade significant progress has been made in restoring and repairing the building that houses the school, which dates from around 1900.
ONE OF THE major improvements so far has been the construction of dormitories housing 70 of the 160 high school students. This facility allows young people from remote sections of Romania to attend the school, and also serves as a home for visiting Unitarians as they travel to Romania and explore sites important to their religious heritage.
The building still requires extensive repair and renovation, and proceeds from ticket and CD sales and donations during the concert tour will be used to continue the work.
For information about the tour and the UU Partner Church program, contact Janice Fitzpatrick at the Mount Vernon Unitarian Universalist Church at 703-765-5950.