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Optina Pustyn Male Choir

Optina Pustyn Male Choir

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The Optina Pustyn male choir was founded in the Dormition Metochion of the Optina Pustyn monastery in St. Petersburg in 1996. On September 15, 1996, on Anthony and Theodosius of Kiev feast day, the first znamenny liturgy was celebrated. Besides ancient Russian one-voiced chants, various types of Russian polyphonic chants were performed at the service: strochnoye singing, znamenny polyphony and early partsong, as well as chants from Orthodox cantatory traditions - Greek, Serbian, Bulgarian and Georgian. At services the choir sings according to the 17th century "Kievan znamya" that synodic one-voiced song books are printed in. The absolute majority of composers, including P.I. Tchaikovsky and S.V. Rachmaninoff, based their sacred music on chants from those books. Besides decipherments of ancient Russian polyphony, the choir performs their own and composer versions of church chants, as well as the most outstanding works by church composers.

The ensemble is composed of twelve professional singers - graduates of the St. Petersburg Conservatory; seven to nine soloists go on tours.

Alexander Semyonov, the founder, Artistic Director and Choir Master, graduated the Choral Conducting Faculty of the St. Petersburg Conservatory, and he also attended symphony conducting. After graduating from the Conservatory, he studied ancient Russian hook notations. As the Choir Master, Alexander Semyonov promotes historical performance by rediscovering many forgotten masterpieces of the ancient Russian singing culture. At the same time, he is an author of contemporary transcriptions and arrangements of secular and Church hymns, interpreter, and first performer of works by contemporary Russian and foreign composers.

The choir consists of outstanding St. Petersburg soloists: Vladimir Miller (basso profondo), leading singer of St. Petersburg State Academic Capella and Mariinsky Opera and Ballet House; Viktor Khaprov (bass); Dmitry Shishkin (bass), laureate of international competitions; Sergey Grigoriev (Choir Master, bass); Boris Petrov (baritone), laureate of international competitions; Dmitry Pisarev (baritone), laureate of international competitions; Andrey Ivanushkin (Choir Master, tenor); Nikita Chernikov (tenor); Ivan Egorov (tenor); Alexander Gorbatenko (counter-tenor), laureate of international competitions. The range of male voices is vast: from F1 to f2; mastery of vocal nuances and thorough selection of the timbral ensemble enable the choir members to achieve superb artistic results in many choral genres: from medieval monody to contemporary polyphonic scores.

The Optina Pustyn choir presents undiscovered areas of music culture, drawing historical and artistic parallels between various genres and styles of church music.

The first choir's concert programme was put together in 1998, and included transcriptions of spiritual and secular compositions made by A. Semyonov.

The choir toured Russia with the programmes "Millennium of Russian Church Singing" (2000) and "Saintly Love" (2003). In 2008, at the Regensburg Museum of History (Germany), the choir presented the programme "Chants of an ancient Church" that included Gregorian, Ambrosian, Byzantine, Armenian and Georgian chants of the 5th-14th centuries performed in the original languages. In 2011, the choir performed the programme "Ars Antiqua & Ars Nova" together with Belgian conductor Paul van Nevel, the founder of the Huelgas Ensemble. This programme included masterpieces of Western European polyphony of the Renaissance.

In 2013, in the St. Petersburg Philharmonia, the choir performed the programme "Chants of the Sovereign Singers". The chants that were conceived in the most famous Russian singing corporation were accompanied by musical and historical commentaries on the reign of Ivan III, Ivan IV, Fyodor I, Alexei Mikhailovich and Peter the Great. The audience also enjoys concert programmes dedicated to Christmas, Great Lent and Easter Sunday.

The Optina Pustyn choir has performed in over 35 Russian cities and towns and in over 20 countries worldwide. The choir gave concerts in the Cathedral of the Dormition of the Moscow Kremlin, St. Sophia Cathedrals in Novgorod and in Kiev, in many churches and cathedrals in Europe, in the St. Petersburg Philharmonia, in the St. Petersburg State Capella, in Tchaikovsky Concert Hall (Moscow) and the Moscow International House of Music, in Laeiszhalle (Hamburg), Temppeliaukio (Helsinki), Rikskonserter (Stockholm).

In 2006, a collaboration album with the I Solisti Veneti orchestra was released on the Warner Music label. Over the years of its existence, the choir has released 15 solo albums.

Discography

Displaying 1-2 of 2 items.


Optina Pustyn Male Choir : Orthodox Chants : 1 CD :  : EUCD1846

Optina Pustyn Male Choir : Orthodox Chants

Review: The male choir of the Optina Pustyn Monastery in St. Petersburg was established in 1996 and consists of 6-9 professional singers with impressive voices. Their main goal is the cultivation of the heritage of the old Russian Church polyphony in its different styles, such as: Znamenny, Bulgarian, Greek, Byzantine chants, etc. This recording is an impressive example of orthodox chants and shows the beauty of Russia's religious songs. Information in 4 languages.

Songlist: Psalm 104, The Great Litany (Znamenny chant (liturgical chant), arranged by elder Theodosius), Blessed is the Man (Kiev chant, Psalm 1, 2, 3), Lord, I have cried unto Thee (Tune of the Optina Puostyn Monastery), Stichera (Tune of Kiev-Pechera Lavra), Glory, Stichera ("At God's beck"), Joyful Light, Vouchsafe, O Lord (Tune of the Optina Puostyn Monastery, arranged by Abbot Matthew), Stichera in the Litany (Znamenny chant), Stichera in the Versicles (Znamenny chant, arranged by Regent Alexander), Now Lettest Thou Depart (V. Kurbatov), Hail, O Virgin

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8329c | 1 CD | $14.98 | A Cappella Men's Choirs CDs


Optina Pustyn Male Choir : Russia's Most Beautiful Songs

Review: The Optina Pustyn Male Choir consists of six to nine professional musicians trained at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. The choir tours and has produced five CDs to date, but they are also part of the regular monastic choir at the Optina Pustyn Monastery in St. Petersburg. Singing in the tradition of the world famous Don Cossack Chorus directed by Sergei Jaroff the choir sings Russian traditional songs including favourites such as the 'Volga Boat Men' and the 'Legend of the Twelve Robbers' and others. Information in English, German, French and Spanish, plus complete lyrics in Russian with English translations.

Songlist: On Flute I Play my Sad Verses, Vivat Suite, Saintly Love, This is not a White Birch, Hey, You, Wide Steppe, The Little Cuckoo, A Winter Road, The Waves Are Sleepy, My Lovely Rowan Tree, The Volga Boat Men, The Legend of the Twelve Robbers, Steppe, Endless Steppe, The Lovely Night, In a Dark Wood, The Little Bell, Dignity, Song of Cherubs

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8328c | 1 CD | $14.98 | A Cappella Russian a cappella

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