Church Concert Series Fills Musical Void

Church Concert Series Fills Musical Void

After experiencing the harsh winters in Moscow, Nadya Mikhaylova knows the significance of "Spring Waters," when she hammers out the song on the piano, accompanying soprano Linda Kiemel.

"It's about the beauty and joy of springtime," Mikhaylova said. "In Russia, it's a big deal when spring comes. We have three springs in Russia. Spring of light when the sun comes out, spring of water when the snow melts and spring of flowers.

"Spring Waters" is one of five songs Mikhaylova and Kiemel are performing in the upcoming "From Russia with Love," concert in the Kirkwood Presbyterian Church music series.

Kiemel also spent a winter in Russia, but in St. Petersburg instead of Moscow like Mikhaylova. It was still cold.

"I grew up in Michigan, and it's nothing like the winter in St. Petersburg," Kiemel said.

The concert series at Kirkwood Presbyterian is a four-part series of free musical performances.

Miriam Bradley is involved with the production and promotion of the shows as well.

"I chose the theme because of the winter," Bradley said.

Although Kirkwood has good acoustics and is centrally located in Springfield, the motivation behind the concert series is the rebirth of the church. It's nestled among four churches in the Carleigh Parkway area. The Rev. Larry Lees hopes that the concert series will act as a jump-start for the church.

"It's a congregation that's attempting to renew itself," Lees said. "Music was something we could uniquely offer to the community."

Just as the Springfield art community is in search of a permanent home in a cultural center, those affiliated with this concert series feel something is missing in Springfield as well.

"It serves them [musicians], too," Lees said. "We recognized the void here in Springfield."

Although the concerts are free, contributions are appreciated. The concerts are nondenominational as well, according to Lees.

"The music programs themselves are not uniquely Christian or Jewish. People of all faiths enjoy music," Lees said.

Bradley plays viola in some performances at Kirkwood and has a regular job with the Washington Chorus at the Kennedy Center. She grew up in Springfield and has been a member of the congregation since she was 8. Compared with the Kennedy Center, the atmosphere at Kirkwood, which can accommodate about 200 people with the lobby walls removed, is familiar.

"Chamber music was always meant to be a more intimate experience," Bradley said.

Mikhaylova teaches piano lessons at her studio in Reston, and Kiemel gives singing lessons in her Annandale home.

IN ADDITION to "Spring Waters," the Jan. 31 performance will include a song called "Lilacs," about finding happiness; "The Soldiers Wife," a love song called "In the Silent Night"; and a song where Kiemel sings one note, opera style.

"I just sing an 'aaah.' Each one is very intense," Kiemel said.

The songs are works by Russian musicians Mussorgsky, Borodin and Rachmaninoff. The songs are influenced by Fet, a Russian poet.

"We are trying to be in Russian style, not only our interpretation," Mikhaylova said.

Also appearing in the four-part performance series are Sean Brady on piano and the Sunrise String Quartet. In October, the church hosted a vocal quartet for the first show of the series. The next part of the series will be in the summer.