Stories of Joy - No. 10 - Twins-musicians in Lviw — fortitude and gratitude

In Ukraine - Canada

The Sisters in Lviw were overjoyed two beautiful events could be honoured at their home on the same day. They had just received a letter from their international leader, the General Superior, that she was arriving in mid-May to see their mission and to make further plans for its future development. She would be here on the Sunday when the famous twins-musicians would be at their home celebrating their First Solemn Reception of Holy Communion. True, they were nearing the age of nine and for these past two years had been absent from the regular class of preparation the Sisters offered each year, for the simple reason that their music exams fell around the same time. So they had their own preparation by the Sister, and on the day of the arrival of the guest, would be feasted, together with their mother, to a celebratory breakfast with the Sisters. Earlier that morning they would receive their First Holy Communion in the parish church. This particular guest SSMI had known about them for several years already, helping them out financially. Their mother was a very successful professor and a well-known pianist at the Lviw Conservatory of Music, but when the twins were born, unfortunately, the future dimmed. She was left alone with the two children, and almost overnight had to terminate her good paying work at the Conservatory. Luckily her savings pulled her through the first few years, and when she quite early recognized the musical talents of the two little girls, she knew she needed help.

Divine providence guided her to the Sisters who realized very soon that, in addition to the great desire to give them music, she often had to scrape to give them food. The General Superior who would be visiting found a very generous benefactor for them in Canada. Now at age nine, they would meet, and the mother wished to express her gratitude through a special musical concert. The moment arrived for the Trio! Marianne sat at the piano and Sofia picked up her violin. The mother sat nearby with a ukulele, a background support to the Two Stars! The performance was fantastic. They played beautifully and tears filled the mother’s eyes as she thought of the good fortune that was hers, and her children’s. Then, as if on cue, the two young musicians stood up, bowed proudly to the group, and unexpectedly began to entertain. As Marianne’s two small hands suddenly darted back and forth across the piano keys, louder and faster, Sofia’s violin flew up in the air — way above her head — and she played it there! The mother gasped, but when she saw the SSMI audience totally enjoying the surprise, she even struck a few notes on her instrument! The second piece was a rapidly moving violin solo — this time the violin almost hit the floor as now and again Sofia did a few loops around her knees with it, without fragmenting the melody or losing the beat! Or damaging the instrument, which was quite a feat. When she finished, the mother ran up to them and hugged and kissed them. But they were not finished; Marianne then performed a piano solo. It was a prayer piece, played beautifully and reverently, and throughout it all Sofia stood motionless, her young innocent soul elsewhere. Everyone fell silent and wept and prayed as their hearts prompted them to do. When the piano became silent, the reverie slowly lifted, and then the revelry began! Everyone rushed to everyone, hugging, laughing, chattering, and totally enjoying the emotional and spiritual fill. After all those hard years, dear God, how much joy! “The Psalmist had said that the Lord cares for the widowed and the orphan.” Thank you, God, thank you, Sisters who helped us, thank you, Superior General!

At the festive meal the mother recalled how, for a few years, when they were yet quite young, she had taken them to a city park and lifted them up so they could grab the back of a sturdy cement park bench and strengthen their weak little fingers. As they came of age, she could not afford to enroll them in the major school of music and had to be content with the school for average talent and means and although her heart pained she was grateful for the Canadian benefactor who met them more than half way. Whenever possible and the girls were at school, she cleaned several apartments in her block for an extra penny. Her reward came many years later, when she saw her girls successfully earn a Master’s degree at the Conservatory.

There were fears that they would not be admitted to the program, but they were, thanks again to the unusual generosity of the benefactor, who always kept in touch with the General Superior. Perhaps also to the mayor of Lviw, about whom we have this wonderful story. It goes like this. The mother, recalling the many opportunities she had in her own musical preparation, tried very hard to give her girls possibilities for concerts by noted musicians who performed in the city, but, again, could not afford much. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention, and on this particular Saturday afternoon, she was determined to have her girls, who, the following week would be registering for the Masters program, attend a very special concert at the Lviw Opera House. The three stood near the entrance, and as the mayor and his wife and their entourage came up, she came forward and said; “Your Worship, if a family of musicians who are too poor to purchase tickets to the performance ask if they could accompany the mayor of their city, would he kindly grant them the favour?” Visibly touched by this mother’s plea, they not only entered the building, but he and his wife seated them in the front row, for an afternoon of sheer delight and pure joy.

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