Macedonia to host Russian church music concerts

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MOSCOW, July 11 (RIA Novosti, Olga Lipich) - A Russian spiritual music festival is being held to promote Slavic spiritual unity and help overcome the church split in the Balkans.

A series of church and classical music concerts called "Voices of Orthodox Russia in Macedonia," will take place in several Macedonian cities this week, the Moscow patriarchy announced.

The Moscow Theological Academy Chorus, the Klassika chamber chorus of the Unity of Orthodox Nations International Foundation, the Moscow Conservatory Chorus, the Chamber Chorus of the Gnessins music school, and Moscow opera soloists will perform pieces by famous Russian composers.

"'Voices of Orthodox Russia in Macedonia' is another event in the long history of cultural exchanges between the two nations," Archpriest Nikolai Balashov, the secretary of the patriarchy's inter-Orthodox relations department.

"We believe the current split between the Orthodox Churches of the neighboring countries, Serbia and Macedonia, will hopefully be overcome through dialogue," he said, adding that it is important to ensure the "religious and cultural unity of the peoples pursuing the common Orthodox tradition."

Balashov said Russia and Macedonia had maintained centuries-long ties. The Macedonian city of Ohrid was a major Slavic center of education, which provided Russia, adopting Christianity at the time, with many of its service books and other religious texts.

"Later, when the Slavs, who lived on the territory now known as Macedonia, fell under Turkish rule, Russians sent them church books and taught them in Russian church schools, helping their Orthodox brothers," Balashov said.

"Many Russians fled the Bolshevik Revolution and the civil war and found shelter in what is now known as Macedonia," he said.

Organized by the Unity of Orthodox Nations International Foundation and blessed by Patriarch Alexy II, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, the festival has been held since 2001 in Germany, Great Britain, Bulgaria and Cyprus.

In Macedonia, the festival is being organized in cooperation with the republic's culture ministry.

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