“Church Music Opens Up Gradually”: an Interview with Eugene Prokofiev, the Precentor of the Brothers’ Choir of St. Elisabeth Convent

Source: St. Elisabeth Convent

March 15, 2018

    

We met with Eugene Prokofiev, the young precentor of the Brothers’ Choir of St. Elisabeth Convent before their performance at the Lenten Concerts. Eugene is 22. He is just a little older than the choir he has directed for the last three years. These three years have become very special for him.

Yulia Krukovskaya, the past precentor of the choir, taught in Minsk Theological College. It was her who invited her student to work with the Brothers’ Choir. Neither Yulia nor Eugene knew that it would change the young man’s course of life.

With the blessing of Father Andrew Lemeshonok, Eugene moved to stay permanently in the Convent. His job of a precentor became his main duty.

— When I came to the Convent, my life changed drastically! — Brother Eugene says. — I can’t imagine myself without the Convent… Living side by side with the nuns and having a close spiritual contact with them all the time, it’s like sitting on a cloud. I seldom leave the Convent now because when you live here, most of your habits and desires go away.

Brother Eugene, do I get it right that you are a postulant?

— Yes, formally I’m a postulant. However, I’m a postulant who does not plan to proceed any further yet. The longer I live in the Convent, the more often I catch myself thinking of taking the next step and becoming a novice.

You know, when I first came to the Convent, I thought I would stay here for just a couple of days. Nun Susanna told me to take few clothes to the Convent. I came here to stay. And I’m still here (smiles).

What are the qualities that a person who wants to be a precentor must possess, in your opinion?

— I can share my own opinion and observations. It seems to me that one must possess a precentor’s charisma and feel the process. You conduct the choir and therefore con-celebrate with the priest. It is not just a job. It is an obedience, especially here in the Convent. It is something you must hold on to tightly. Interestingly enough, there are people who never went through any special training but they can conduct choirs… It depends on that person’s inner state to a great extent. It can only be explained by referring to spiritual things. A person who does not go to church cannot learn to be a precentor. It seems to me that church music is discovered little by little as long as your heart becomes pure and meek…

...Read the rest at St. Elisabeth Convent.

3/16/2018

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