?St. Constantin and Helen? Church in Victoria hosted recently ?The building up Song? Festival. 80 children from various Romania?s counties, but also representing orthodox churches from Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, Russia, Syria and Ukraine tried to make harmonious sounds from a simple church bell board. Organized since 1995, the contest has become a tradition. Starting to 2005, it has crossed the borders, becoming an international event.
It?s all about Acoustics
According to father Octavian Smadu ?some children have peculiar ear, which made us mind more the sound?s purity. Above the interpretation and the popular clothes, acoustics is what it counts?. This year edition took place in the very church?s nave. Every now and then, father Smadu was interrupting the contest to make the history of this impressive orthodox habit.
The Bell Board sounds till Canada
Nine-year-old Radu Gavrila?s performance at the bell board made everybody applaud him frenetically . He?s been playing the bell board since he was three. Although very shy, he won the last two editions.
Bogdan Tanasie is also nine and since two years ago he?s been playing the bell boar as often as he gets the opportunity. The boy lives in Canada and visits his grandfather in Victoria every vacation. Last year he won a mention which motivated him for this edition. ?In Canada, the church is very far from our house. So I play the bell board at home. Grandfather took me at the priest?s so he could teach me? Bogdan confessed.
The Orthodox practice more
The priest Kerpenisan Dragan, representing the Serbian community of Cenad (Timis County) participated for the first time and he was impressed by the contest?s level. ?We still have a lot to learn mostly because, according to our traditions, we play the bell board only on Resurrection Night. This is probably why Orthodox have much more occasions to practice than us?.
Bell Board Time
The bell board is a curved wooden or iron table used in the churches and the monasteries to mark the prayer hours. The board is beaten with two little hammers, in a rhythmical and musically manner. The wooden bell board has two versions: fixed and portable. The last one is usually 2-3 m long and 20 cm width; the monks and the nuns hold it in their left hand and gently hammering it with the right hand, while surrounding the monastery. The portable board is beaten with one hand, while the fixed one with both of them. The iron board is used to mark the Easter time, together with the church bells. ?Bell board time? means 4 o?clock in the afternoon, to announce the vesper. The bell board is used in both orthodox and Greek catholic churches. It can be placed into the bell-tower or under the church?s gutter. The bell board doesn?t replace the bell, so they could be used simultaneously. It is played usually at the beginning of the religious service or during night messes, but there are many variations from one church to another. A real art is growing up today around those religious instruments.