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Items will be introduced in English and selected from the following Russian Orthodox

Church Music works, (a cappella Slavonic).

The concert includes an interval during which the CDs, which Ensemble recorded just before leaving St Petersburg for this UK tour, will be for sale.

We represent an extraordinarily high degree of "choral culture"--outstanding voices, flawless ensemble, led by a sensitive master-conductor, who knows the measure of good taste. The result?

Some of the favorite and best-loved Russian sacred music and Russian folk songs,Ukrainian carols sung with a finesse and quality that have seldom been heard before, while maintaining that inimitable Russian spirit that never fails to conquer audiences world-wide. Whether your love is Russian Orthodox Church music and Russian folk music or the male chorus sound or simply fine choral singing, you will find this CD to be highly satisfying.

This is a disc that all lovers of fine choral singing will not want to miss!

The repertoire consists of liturgical singing- hundreds of Kievan chants as well as Russian polyphonic of the 17th – 18th century, masterpieces of Greek, Serbian, Georgian church music, the best sacred creatons of S.Degtyarev, D. Bortnynskii, A. Nicolskii, A. Grechaninov, N. Kedrov-son, S. Trubachev, K. Nikitin- and many Russian folk somgs. The main task is to research, perform and preserve the rich musical heritage of the North of Russia.
The strict rule of the ancient Russian monasteries matches the harsh environments where they are often situated. The traditional liturgical singing reaches deep into the listener’s soul and summons them to prayer.
The Orthodox chants include the chants of Solovetsky, kirilo Belozersko and other monasteries and have created the tradition of church music known in Russian as Znameny rospev. It has its roots in the Byzantine singing tradition which derives from the works of St. Anatolius, Patriarch of Constantinople from 449 to 459, the 5th Century St. Romanus Melodius (Sweetsinging), Bishop Jacob of Edessa (640-708) and other inspired Greek church fathers. It reached its culmination with St. John of Damascus.
This rospev (chant) is referred to as Znameny because of the way it is written down: not in normal musical notation but using special sings- straight, slanting and curved lines (the Russian word for sing is Znameny). It is a style of singing handed down from generation to generation by oral tradition. This type of music with its emphasis on singing in unison has been a feature of the Russian Orthodox Church since the 12th Century and in the 17th Century reached its blossoming in the creative work of the famous masters of Zmaneny singing, Ivan Shaidurov, the brothers Savvy and Vastly Rogovy and, later, Theodor Krestianin.
At the end of the 17th Century enthusiasm for western European culture led to the rapid ousting of the Znameny style from regular use in the liturgy and its replacement by so-called part-singing. This may, perhaps, have made the melodies more familiar to the congregation and introduced the practice of a solo voice superimposed on a group of other voices but it was alien to the Eastern Christian tradition.

Russian Orthodox Church Music and Famous Russian choral works (a capella old Church Slavonic)

1. Hail Mary \ Rejoice, O virgin from " All- Night Vigil", op. - 37

(Bogoroditse, Devo, raduisya) - Sergey Rahmaninov(1873- 1943)

Virgin Mother of god, rejoice, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
for thou has given birth to the Saviour  of our souls.

2. From above the prophets foretold of You (Svyshe prorocy) – music by M.A.Balakirev

3.Cherubic hymn- music by Victor Volna

4.Magnification of Epiphany, Serbian chant (serbskoe velichanie)

5.In your Kingdom (Vo zarstvii tvoem)- music by Dobri Xristov, Bulgarian composer of Orthodox music. Mainly based in Sofia.

6. Lord, now lettest thou ( Nine otpuschaeshi)- Pavel Chesnokov
7. The Eternal council ( Sovet prevechnij)- Music by Pavel Chesnokov (1877 – 1944), one of the most exemplary composers from the School of Moscow, adapted this traditional melody called "from Kiev," taking pains to conserve the antiphonal style of the Psalm as required by the Ordo, the liturgical canon. P. Tchesnokov was also one of the most accomplished specialists in choral direction in Russia. His work on combining differing vocal timbres and on intonation still carries weight.

Chesnokov studied at the Moscow Synodal School and at the Moscow Conservatory. He gained early recognition as a choral conductor through his teaching in schools, his conducting of church choirs, and as chief conductor of the Russian Choral Society. He also served as professor of choral conducting at the Moscow Conservatory, as chief conductor of the Moscow State Choir, and as choir director of the Bol'shoy Theatre. He composed more than 400 choral works, mostly sacred works for church performance. These are recognized for their clarity of harmony. His other work includes 20 songs, several stage works, and a book on the theory of choral performance, Khor i upravleniye im (1940).

From 1920, Chesnokov headed a choral conducting program at the Moscow Conservatory. He also remained busy regularly conducting the choirs of the Bolshoi Theater and Moscow Academy. In addition, Chesnokov became the choirmaster at Christ the Savior Cathedral. In 1933, however, on orders from Stalin, the Cathedral was demolished to make way for construction of a skyscraper that would never be built. Chesnokov became so distraught over the Cathedral's destruction that he stopped composing altogether. He continued teaching and conducting various choirs in Moscow until his death there on March 14, 1944.

8.Dear Lord, strong and immortal, forgive us (Svjatij Boze, Svjatij krepkij, Svjatij bessmertnij pomilui nas - Pavel Tchesnokov

9. Concert №3 -Dimitry Bortnjansky (1752 – 1825) born in Glukhov, Ukraine. Studied at both Moscow and St Petersburg under the Italian, and then followed him to Italy in 1768. He continued his musical studies at Bologna, Rome and Naples, composing and operas in Venice and Modena in 1778. He returned to Russia and in 1779 was appointed director of the Imperial Church Choir, which eventually became the Imperial Chapel. Beside his extensive religious music, which included 45 sacred pieces for choirs, he also wrote operas and instrumental pieces.

10. God’s Own Son (Edinorodnij Sine)- music by Alexandr Grechaninov
The only begotten song
Glory to the Father , and to the Son ,and to the Holy Spirit ,now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
Only-begotten Son and immortal Word of God ,Who for our salvation willed  to be incarnate of the holy Mother of God and ever -virgin Mary.Who without change became man and wast crucified , Who is one of the Holy Trinity , glorified with Father and the Holy Spirit: o Christ our God , trampling down death by death , save us.

11. The Lord's Preyer (Otche nash)- Piotr Tchaikovsky

Our Father, Which art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name;

Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, in Earth as  it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive them that trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the Evil One. Amen
Our Father. In His "Sermon on the Mount" (Mat. 5-7) Jesus Christ explained how one should pray to God, by saying for the first time the prayer "Our Father" (Mat. 6:9-13). This prayer is best known and most loved by all Christians. From that time it was repeated by millions of believers during their whole life, during nearly 2000 years. In the textbooks of God's Law (Religion) it is analyzed as a prototype of the Christian prayer.
12. Praise The Lord, O My Soul ( Blagoslovi, dusha moja, Gospoda) - Michael Ippolitov- Ivanov
Bless the Lord, O my Soul
Bless the Lord, O my Soul .O my God thou art very great .Blessed art thou, Lord ,who hast clothed thyself with beauty .The waters stood above the mountain.
Lord, how manifold are thy works. The springs run among the hills. All the earth is full of the riches. Glory to thee, Lord, who in wisdom hast made them all.
Glory he to the Father, and to the Son, to the Holy Ghost. Amen.
13.The Angel Exclaimed (Angel vopijashe)- M.Musorgskij

14. Christ is today in Bethleem (Dnes Christos) - music by Stepan Anikievich Degtiarev (1766–1813) was a renowned composer, a much talented musician and the author of a number of operas and choral works of the late 18th century. He was most famous for his nationalistic Russian Choral Music.
The extremely wealthy and influential Sheremetev family, who by the 19th Century were most famous as patrons of the arts, with a household of talented serf musicians and actors. Stepan Degtyarev, one of the most prolific and talented early Russian composers, whose work included the first Russian oratorio, was the conductor of the Sheremetev's serf orchestra and the choirmaster of their theatre.

Russian Folk Songs (a cappella Russian)

Russian folk songs have always played an essential part in Russian life, culture, and music. They have played an important part in the work of many great Russian composers including Glinka, Rimsky-Korsakov, Borodin, Tchaikovsky, Prokoviev, and Stravinsky. If provides a historical survey and a description of the musical and poetic characteristics of Russian folk song, the songs themselves are classified into several categories: calendar songs, lyric songs, work songs, epic songs, historical songs, and the urban songs that emerged in the 18th and 19th centuries.

1.Dear little rowan (Riabinushka).
2. The song of the Russian snow storm.

The blizzard is winding along the street. A young man is walking and is

saying to his fiance: "Wait, please, my beloved! Let me have a look at
your beauty, at your flourishing face! I am getting crazy from your
beauty, and am losing my mind. Wait, please, my beloved! Let me have a
look at your beauty!"
3. Ballad about Stepan Rasin – a famous brigand in old Russia

His brightly painted boats appear from behind an island. Stepan Rasin is in the front one, celebrating his marriage to an abducted Persian princes. His mates are grumbling – he swapped us for a woman! Just spent one night with her and became a woman himself. Stepan hears that and to prove his mates wrong, grabs the poor girl and throws her overboard.

Stepan (Sten'ka) Timofeyevich Razin

was a Cossack leader who led a major uprising against the nobility and Tsar's bureaucracy in South Russia.

Stenka Razin is the hero of a popular Russian folk song

The melody was used by Tom Springfield in the song The Carnival is Over that placed The Seekers at #1 in 1965 in Australia and the UK.

4. Kalinka
A sweet Russian girl is walking in a garden and sees a berry, its name is “Kalinka”. She is so happy to see it that begins to dance around this berry and softly sings “Kalinka-Malinka, Kalinka maya” and so on.
Juniper, juniper, my juniper,
       in the garden there's the berry, my raspberry.

Under the pine, under the green pine,

lay me down to sleep,
aida, Lyuli, Lyuli, aida, Lyuli, Lyuli,
lay me down to sleep!

Juniper, juniper, my juniper,

       in the garden there's the berry, my raspberry.

Oh you dear pine, oh you green pine,

don't you rustle so loud over me,
aida, Lyuli, Lyuli, aida, Lyuli, Lyuli,
don't you rustle so loud over me!

Juniper, juniper, my juniper,

       in the garden there's the berry, my raspberry.

Beautiful maid, dear maid,

please fall in love with me,
aida, Lyuli, Lyuli, aida, Lyuli, Lyuli,
please fall in love with me!

Juniper, juniper, my juniper,

       in the garden there's the berry, my raspberry.
       "Kalinka" (juniper) and "malinka" (raspberry) obviously were the traditional offerings to an old-slavic goddess of the earth, and of spring, love, and fertility, named "Lyuli" - as the traditional heavenly ally of the Russian agricultural population, but also of the young people in love, Lyuli survived the christianization and is still alive in quite a lot of folksongs. Since the most of these songs begin with a similar melody, they all might be derived from a common origin, maybe a very old hymn or a pagan ritual in honour of the goddess Lyuli.
       The song "Kalinka" could be this original, or at least resemble it largely. It still has the antiphonic form of a liturgy: The chorus, repeated by the community until ecstasy, recalls the offerings to the goddess's mind again and again, and the verses, sung by the priest alone, address Lyuli directly and articulate what the people want to get from her in return: Maybe a rich harvest, or a large family, or the rescue from famine, from epidemics, from aridity or from inundations ...
       In the modern form of this song, only one request is left which is not less important: The wish for love!
5. The Night ( NOCHEN'KA)

Dark night -

Rainy night -
Lonely night...
6. Wide, wide steppe(Steppe is a Russian word that means wide open space, a prairie)(Ax, ti step’ shirokaja)
You, Mother Steppe, are so wide and free, spreading in all directions. Look, it is not an eagle flying up, but a Don Cossack is enjoying his freedom, but it’s not wise for an eagle to fly too low over the land, and it is dangerous for the Cossack to come close to the river.
7. Those Evening Bells -Lyrics by Thomas Moore

Youth comes to the end and then life comes to the end. Only bells can be heard as before.

The song is so popular in Russia. That we think it to be a Russian folk song.
       Since Serge Yaroff and his Don Cossack Choir has introduced the "Evening bells" into the western world about fifty years ago, this song is – next to "Kalinka", the "Volga Boat Men" and "Stenka Razin" – one of our most popular Russian folksongs.
Those evening bells! Those evening bells!

How many a tale their music tells

of youth, and home and that sweet time,

When last I heard their soothing chime.

Those joyous hours are past away,

And many a heart that then was gay

Within the tomb now darkly dwells

And hears no more these evening bells.

And so 'twill be when I am gone;

That tuneful peal will still ring on

while other bards will walk these dells,

and sing your praise, sweet evening bells.

8. A lonely bell’s ringing (Odnozvuchno gremit kolokol’chik)
You can here a lonely bell’s ringing. The coach driver is singing a sad song. This sad song reminded me my homeland fields and woods, and made my heart burn and tears run down my cheeks. The driver fell silent, and there is a long way ahead.
       The monotonous bell belongs to a troika – three horses side by side in front of a light coach – which is usually dashing along the far Russian roads at such a speed that clouds of dust are stirred up. The little bell which is tinkling all the way keeps the horses running, and the coachman has time enough to sing one of these soulful Russian folksongs.

Monotonously the little bell is sounding,

And the way is a little bit dusty,
And over the plain fields
Flows the song of the coachman.

There is so much longing in this song,

So much emotion in the familiar tune
That in my cool breast
My heart lights with fire.

And I remembered other nights

And the fields and forests of my home,
And to my eyes, which had been dry for a long time,
A tear rose like a spark.

Monotonously the little bell is sounding,

Softly echoing from afar,
And my coachman fell silent. And the way before me
Is long and far.
9. Folk Accordion (Town of Tula was famous for this instrument) /Tyl’skaja garmon’/
A playful song about two friends who bought two boats with holes in the bottom.
11. Can’t help falling in Love - Hugo Peretti & Luigi Creatore
12. In my room light is music by Aleksandr Morozov, words by Nikolai Rubschov/ I look to lakes blue

Thank you for your support. The programme can be changed.

We apologise if tonight’s programme varies from the above list.
All items will be introduced in English.



Welcome to tonight’s concert! The Hermitage Ensemble from St Petersburg is a male voice choir each having a relevant wide musical education. In their homeland they are engaged as soloists in operas and in concert.

The vocal ensemble see it as their goal to maintain the Russian traditions of church music and bring motets of the Eastern Church closer to western people. Therefore, the programme consists of liturgical motets and psalms. It also includes various folk songs.

The music of the Russian Orthodox Church arose out of a blend of the Greek, Byzantine and Oriental influences during the early years of the Christian Church. From the 15th to the 18th century the plainsong of the original chants was beginning to be harmonized and was leading to a purely Russian church music. In the 18th century the music was further influenced by the Italian composers attached to the Russian court, in particular Sarti and Galuppi. Both the Russian composer 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 harmonized plainsong. Nearly all the leading Russian composers have written music for the rites of the Russian Orthodox Church and tonight there will be examples from many of them.

You will not hear an organ or any instruments in Orthodox services. This is because in the early Christian church they were viewed as being theatrical and had other undesirable associations, and therefore unconducive to worship. Because of this the practice of unaccompanied singing and composing choral music led to a high standard of vocal presentation. The Russian bass voices are well known for their low register, which reaches well below that of basses in many other countries.

The folk and national songs, which form the second half of the concert, show a range of emotion and, with their rhythms and melodies, convey with their inimitable spirit all that is characteristic of the great ”Russian Soul”.

We hope that you will enjoy tonight’s performance!


Russian people have always possessed a particular musical sense and Russian choral music holds a unique place in the musical culture of the world and especially of Europe- due in no small measure to the special traditions of the Russian Orthodox Church. It is a fact that during many centuries choir music was the most honourable genre in the musical culture of Russia. The most famous Russian composers of secular music, such as Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky, believed it was their duty also to write spiritual a capella music. Unfortunately, Russian spiritual music was censored in Soviet Russia after the 1917 Revolution. For almost 70 years it became inaccessible to a wide audience and, as the years passed, was almost forgotten.

In recent years the masterpieces of Russian choral spiritual music have sounded again in the great halls of Russia and Europe, thanks to professional musicians devoted to this wonderful genre. So today this music is experiencing a new birth, allowing everybody to re-open forgotten pages of world culture. Russian Choir music fascinates every honest listener with its beauty and strength. Even a small ensemble allows an audience to feel all the dramatic and melodic wealth which characterises this music. It leaves nobody indifferent. Hermitage have brought with them their CDs dedicated to this sacred music, which they recorded just before leaving St Petersburg for this UK tour.

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