Songs of the Season – Radost’ Sja Nam/ Joy to Us Has Been Revealed

This is another in the series of “kolady”, though it’s a recording that’s a little bit closer to home, as this is a choir that I have sung in, and the director here – John Sutko – besides being an incredibly talented choral director with the patience of Job, was an amazing singer, hitting those basso profundo notes like very few can, but more than that, he was an amazing person full of warmth and love for everyone he met. Whenever he’d see me, his face would light up and he’d exclaim “Krasivaya [beautful] Katerina!” like it just made his day that I was around.

John died in 2020, and truly one of the cruelest parts of the whole Covid saga is that the old and the sick and the dying were forcibly separated from those who loved them. John’s funeral should have had a thousand people at it – he was choir director at his church (St. Peter & St. Paul Orthodox Church, now in Burr Ridge, Illinois) for 65 years, and a teacher for his entire career, and he had a knack of making everyone feel special – but I don’t think even his entire family was allowed to go.

John was born here in the US, but he was proud of his Carpatho-Rusyn heritage; he loved their music. In the 1970s, he spent nearly a decade working on making good translations and musical settings for the Orthodox Church in America – I have no doubt that many of the “kolady” were also translated and set by him.

The songs didn’t change much from year to year, but I sure had a lot of fun singing them in John Sutko’s choir. He’d usually do at least one concert a year, generally a Christmas or Pascha (Easter) themed. He was very good about getting these recorded, and he’d make copies of the recordings to send to friends and parishioners who were too ill or frail to have been to church recently. His grandson, Fr. Alexander Koranda, has posted a few recordings up on Youtube, but I do hope that more show up.

In addition to the “Carol of the Bells” playlist, I’ve started a general playlist of Christmas songs that will include pieces mentioned here, for anyone interested.

dore canto 31 white rose

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