Stake president helps orchestrate choir visit

"I think that the people of our countries have much in common. If we have a lucky chance to visit your place and to sing for the people, we'll feel together the joy of the life given to us by Him." – Nina Gorshkova, Kurgan, Siberia.

With the help of Dr. Paul Nicholls, president of the Lexington Kentucky Stake, Nina Gorshkova's wish came true recently when she and 29 other members of a machinist union choir and ballet troupe from Kurgan, Siberia, visited the United States.Olga L. Zhuravlyova, the minister of culture in Kurgan – the gateway to Siberia – accompanied the group on its 12-day visit.

Kurgan, a city of 400,000 located on the trans-Siberian railway, is the link between east and west Soviet Union.

Pres. Nicholls met the choir when he traveled to Kurgan last year to study a bone lengthening technique taught by Dr. Gavriel Ilizarov, chief of the Clinic for Limb Lengthening in Kurgan.

While there, he was touched by the music of the choir during a Sunday evening performance.

"I wanted to go to church while I was there, but there weren't any churches in Kurgan, so I decided I'd go with the group to hear the choir. We all came in and they sang for several hours."

The dancers and musicians – members of the Ballet Troupe and Choir of Russian Folk Songs of the Palace of Culture of the Truck Builders' Union of Kurgan, Siberia – perform traditional folk music and dance as well as some modern songs and dance.

"I noticed as they sang that something happened," Pres. Nicholls said. "It wasn't the music so much, but I had tears. Something had happened to me. There was an emotional bond."

The group noticed Pres. Nicholls when he refused to drink alcohol, coffee and tea at a reception and instantly became curious about his beliefs. After a quick explanation, Nina Gorshkova left and came back with a jug of wild cherry juice.

The choir took the first step in initiating a visit to the United States when they told Pres. Nicholls they wanted to travel to his country to sing, courtesy of their truck manufacturing plant.

The funds took them only as far as New York, but Pres. Nicholls agreed to make a 10-hour drive to pick them up and bring them to Lexington.

While in Kentucky, the choir performed 14 concerts in Central Kentucky schools and at Eastern Kentucky University, the University of Kentucky, Kentucky State University, at the Lexington Kentucky Stake center and for several community groups and businesses.

They also sang for a number of mayors and for the governor's staff in the State Capitol rotunda in Frankfort, Ky. The governor's staff presented the performers with a certificate naming them ambassadors of goodwill to Kentucky.

Kentucky Education Television filmed the visit and plans to produce a film about the cultural exchange, said Linda Bulbulian, public communications director for the Lexington Kentucky Stake.