Concert: Bringing Russian music to the world

2008-03-06 00:00

The Hermitage Ensemble of soloists from St Petersburg, Russia, will present a concert of Russian Sacred Hymns and Folk Songs a cappella at the Cathedral of the Holy Nativity on March 10.

The Hermitage Ensemble see it as their goal to bring the Russian traditions of church music and of the Eastern Orthodox Church to the rest of the world. Their programme consists of liturgical motets, psalms and folk songs.

The all-male Hermitage Ensemble consists of several professional singers: Bladimir Pasyukov (basso profundo), Vladimir Mostovoy (conductor and second tenor), Alexander Patyukov (lyric baritone), Vasily Timonin (alto tenor), and Igor Shiryagin (first tenor).

The music of the Russian Orthodox Church arose out of a blend of the Greek, Byzantine and Oriental influences during the early years of Christianity. From the 15th to the 18th century the plainsong of the original chants was harmonised and this led to purely Russian church music.

In the 18th century the music was further influenced by Italian composers attached to the Russian court, in particular Sarti and Galuppi. Both the Russian composers Bortniansky and Berezovsky received musical training in Italy and they were to have a great impact on Orthodox music.

In the 19th century Balakirev, music director at the Court Chapel, and Rimsky-Korsakov produced a large collection of harmonised plainsong. Nearly all the leading Russian composers have written music for the rites of the Russian Orthodox Church and the concert will feature several examples.

The Russian bass voices are well known for their low register, which reaches well below that of basses in many other countries.

Items will be introduced in English and selected from the following Russian Orthodox Church Music works (a cappella Slavonic): We praise you, O Lord! by Dimitry Bortnjansky; My Soul, send my blessing to the Lord by Michael Ippolitov- Ivanov; Blessed is the Man by Pavel Tchesnokov; In your Kingdom by Dobri Xristov; Dear Lord, strong and immortal, forgive us by Piotr Tchaikovsky; Hail Mary by Sergey Rachmaninov; and Mother of the Lord, rejoice by Igor Stravinsky.

The selection of Russian folk songs (a cappella Russian) includes Katujcha, Moscow Nights, Along the Piterskaia Street, A Lonely Bell’s Ringing, Volga Boatsong, Ballad about Stepan Rasin, The Baikal Song, Dear Little Rowan, Those Evening Bells, and Kalinka.

CDs recorded by the ensemble will be available for sale as well as matryoshka dolls.

The concert is at 6.30 pm in the Cathedral of the Holy Nativity on March 10.

Tickets are R20 or R15 for pensioners and students. Parking is available in the cathedral grounds, entrance from Langalibalele Street (formerly Longmarket Street).

The Hermitage Ensemble will also sing the liturgy for the 8.30 am service at the Cathedral of the Holy Nativity on Sunday.

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