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Victor Pokrovsky

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[[Image:VPokrovsky_c1925.jpg|thumb|left|Victor A. Pokrovsky]]Victor was born on [[February 13]], 1897, the first son of Fr. Alexander Andreevich and Nadezhda Petrovna (''née'' Ismailov). His father was the [[priest]] at a [[church]] in the Suhaya Rika district near Kazan, Russia. The Pokrovskys were a priestly family. Their family name was Gremyashkin, but during the time of Tsar Paul I of Russia, Victor's [[priest]]ly ancestor was given the family name of Pokrovsky by his [[bishop]] who visited his [[parish]] on the day of the Protection of the Theotokos (Pokrov).
Victor studied for four years at the [[Kazan Ecclesiastical Seminary]] before entering Kazan University in 1914. As a university student he sang with the Morreff Choir, which Mr. Koltchin [[Ivan Kolchin]] (later choir director of [[Holy Trinity Cathedral (San Francisco, California)|Holy Trinity Cathedral]] in San Francisco) also joined, and attended the conductor class at Kazan Hummert Music School. After three years of student life, he was called into the Army as an officer, but was released after the February Revolution. He then returned to the Kazan University for his fourth year.
After the Bolshevik coup of 1917, he was recalled to army service in 1918 into the White Army, to advance eventually to the rank of Captain. As the Red Army advanced, he was forced to leave Kazan and retreat with the White Army across Siberia. With the end of the Civil War, he ended up in Manchuria and was discharged on [[May 12]], 1923. Having lost everything, including his family, he set to organizing a [[choir]] to earn a living. As Manchuria included a large Russian population prior to the war that supported and operated the Trans-Siberian Railway short cuts to Vladivostok, a Russian-based lifestyle was available for his choir to work in. Indeed, the Harbin [[diocese|Archdiocese]] was active, as the situation in Russia deteriorated, including supporting the [[Church of Japan]].
After the Great Kanto Earthquake of [[September 1]], 1923, severely damaged the Holy Resurrection Cathedral in Tokyo, the then Archbishop Sergius often visited Harbin to obtain support for restoring the Cathedral. Amongst his activities, Sergius was looking for a capable leader for the choir at the cathedral. Among the candidates that the [[archbishop]] interviewed he liked the music of Victor Pokrovsky who was directing the choir at the Holy Theotokos Church in Harbin. Invited by the archbishop, Victor moved to Japan in 1924 to form a full-scale choir at the Holy Resurrection Cathedral and to introduce the new Russian masterpieces, such as those by Arkhangelsky and KastaskyKastalsky.
For the next sixteen years Victor was deeply engaged in developing a first-class choir and learning Japanese so as to translate and arrange the new masterpieces for the choir. During this time he found time to marry a Russian young lady, but suffered tragedy when she died in childbirth, leaving him a son to raise. A couple of years later he married again, to a young lady from Harbin with whom he had two daughters.
In time the choir recognized this discipline and personally came to Victor to acknowledge their understanding of his intent. Victor worked carefully on the timing and the flow of the services. He would coordinate tones with the [[clergy]] so that they and the choir would be in harmony. Yet, during the service he would quickly adjust the choir's pitch to fit the intonation of the clergy when necessary. For Victor, the services were a whole, not a bunch of pieces. In this even Metropolitan Sergius was careful, often heard coordinating on which Cherubic hymn version Victor would be singing that day so that he could decide his pitch.
The choir's repertory expanded quickly. They sang the music of Tchaikovsky, Smolensky, Strokin, Chesnokov, Arkhangelsky, and KastolskyKastalsky. Some years later, thanks to his pupil Tito Kato, Victor's music was published in Osaka. There were some 75 titles, and many of them, for example, Smolensky's ''Paschal Stichera'', and Makarov's ''The Angel Cried'', are still sung in many churches in Japan.  [[Image: NicolaidoConse-Choir.jpg|thumb|right|250pxl|Nicolai-do Reconsecration, 15 Dec 1929 - Cathedral Choir in procession under Victor Pokrovsky - director]]The hard work of these early years came together in the singing at the re-[[consecration]] ceremony for the rebuilt Holy Resurrection Cathedral on [[December 15]], 1929. Afterwards Metropolitan Sergius praised him: "Victor Alexandrovich Pokrovsky, a great choir director who has done hard work since 1924. His name will be kept in the history of music in Japan. Our choir[s] are not only good singers but artistic and full of spirit." (''Tokyo Holy Resurrection Cathedral and the Earthquake'', by Metr. Sergius.) ==External link==Orthodox Church Singing in Japan [] == Source ==Maria Junko Matsushima: ''An Russian Emigre Church Musician - Victor Pokrovsky, his Life and Music: Kazan, Manchuria, Tokyo, America'', PSALM Notes, March 2005. [[Category:Featured Articles]][[Category:Hymnographers]][[Category:Missionaries]]

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