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Tag Archives: Rachmaninoff

Rachmaninov Vespers: Why I Cried

Posted on: August 27th, 2014 by Inna Heasley 7 Comments

On September 7th, 2014 Choral Arts Philadelphia will perform one piece of music that holds an absolutely special place in my heart: Vespers (All Night Vigil, Op. 37) by Sergey Rachmaninov.

 

Besides cherishing a direct native connection to the Russian music and unsurpassed love for Sergey Rachmaninov as a person and a composer, I treasure this piece because it represents a life-altering discovery I made in my mid-20s .

 

During the first 24 years of my life in the Soviet Russia, after having studied classical music and its history at a full-time music school for eight years, I had no idea about the existence of the Vespers or any other sacred music by any other composer whatsoever! This is how well this information was locked away from public eye in the Soviet Union. And since I never knew to ask the question, I never looked for answers.

 

Fast forward now to the early 9o’s, my first few weeks in the United States where I was brought on a contract to interpret for a group of Russian dancers.  The day I got my first paycheck, I went to the Tower Records store (remember those?) to look for recordings of my favorite composers, including Rachmaninov and Bach.

 

As I searched the Bach and Rachmaninov sections, I came across some odd titles like St. Matthew Passion, B-Minor Mass, Vespers, The Bells. “What’s this?” – I said to myself in total bewilderment, because I knew every piece of music those guys ever composed. I had to buy the Vespers CD, out of curiosity (I now think it was actually a cassette tape – remember those?). I played it on my Walkman (remember those?)…  And I cried. I cried because I felt betrayed. Then I cried some more because life was SO MUCH MORE BEAUTIFUL than I had imagined. Because the humanity had the gift of the Vespers all along!!!

Lighting the candles during All night vigil.

Lighting the candles during an All night vigil.

 

Ironically, that same year, late 1991, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Christmas was finally officially announced as a national holiday in Russia. It was openly celebrated for the first time in over 70 years, on January 6, 1992.

 

This landmark event was followed by the arrival of massive country-wide restoration process of the entire Orthodox culture: from the beautiful architecture and commencement of industrial church bells production – to religious education, faith-based literature and declassification of archival church documents. And it inevitably meant that the Orthodox music, and with it all other sacred music, that had been muted in Russia for over 70 years was finally given back to the people it was written for.

 

The Rachmaninov Vespers was performed in a public concert in Moscow on that first Christmas Eve of 1992.

 

Every time I get to sing this work – and this will be my third time – it is a transcendental life event, an experience of the highest spiritual, physical, emotional and mental order which simply can’t be described in words.

 

Singing it here in the U.S. for the American audiences fills me with great honor and gratitude for their responsive energy, for their respect to this music and their thirst to hear more of it. And singing it with Choral Arts Philadelphia is going to be an amazing experience!

 

We performed it in 2012 at the Cathedral Basilica of SS Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. Here is my favorite excerpt:

 

IF YOU GO:
Gretna Music Festival

Sunday, September 7, 2014 at 7:30 PM

Pre-concert talk by the festival founder Carl Ellenberger at 6:45 PM

More information at www.choralarts.com

 


 

Philadelphia Premiere of Rachmaninoff’s rarely heard opera “Francesca da Rimini” June 24-27, 2013

Posted on: May 30th, 2013 by Inna Heasley No Comments

Poster design by ModernGood

Russian Opera Workshop was founded in Philadelphia in 2011 by Ghenady Meirson (faculty member at the Academy of Vocal Arts and Curtis Institute of Music) as an independent summer training program for aspiring and professional opera singers. Like no other opera training program in the world, the 30-day Workshop offers an intensive immersion into the Russian language and vocal training, followed by free public performances of the studied repertoire. Participating opera artists arrive from across the United States and from abroad.

 

“Now in its third summer season, Russian Opera Workshop has established itself as one of the world’s most important and influential programs, right here in Philadelphia. Even Russians from Russia want to participate,” says Meirson, the program founder, principal coach and pianist. Indeed, its alumni success is impressive: as of Spring of 2013, five opera companies nationwide hired Russian Opera Workshop artists in the roles they learned here.

 

The 2013 season will open on Monday, June 24th with a lively lecture about Francesca da Rimini given by a renowned American composer Daron Hagen, followed by the concert of the Russian Romance Songs, which will introduce all the Workshop participants to the audience, with Laura Ward at the piano.

 

On June 25-27, Russian Opera Workshop presents, in concert, a Philadelphia premiere of S. Rachmaninoff opera Francesca da Rimini, and P. Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, a rarely performed scene from the unfinished opera based on Shakespeare’s drama.

 

Rachmaninoff’s Francesca da Rimini, an opera with the libretto written by Tchaikovsky’s brother Modest, premiered in Moscow in 1906. It is based on the story of Francesca da Rimini in the fifth canto of Dante’s epic poem The Inferno (the first part of The Divine Comedy). The performance of Francesca da Rimini includes a chorus comprised of singers from local choral groups: Philadelphia Singers, Choral Arts Philadelphia, Mendelssohn Club, and Vox Ama Deus.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti "Francesca Da Rimini"

 

All performances start at 7:30 PM at the Helen Corning Warden Theater, the Academy of Vocal Arts, 1920 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19103. Performances are in Russian with English supertitles. Admission is FREE, with open seating.

 

The public performances are preceded by a series of three vocal Master Classes led by premiere voice coaches and professors, June 7-21, 2013, which are also open to public at no charge and offer a unique chance to observe the training process

 

For more information and full schedule, please visit www.RussianOperaWorkshop.com.

 

The above art image is from a public domain at Wikimedia Commons.

 

 


 

CURRENT PR PROJECTS

Posted on: November 9th, 2012 by Inna Heasley No Comments

CHORAL ARTS PHILADELPHIA TURNS 30! 

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 16 @ 4 PM:  Premiere chamber chorus led by Artistic Director Matthew Glandorf, Choral Arts Philadelphia presents J.S. Bach’s Magnificat (with the Christmas interpolations), Antonio Vivaldi’s Gloria, and Audience Sing-Along in a festive Christmas program celebrating the ensemble’s 30 years of outstanding music making. With The Philadelphia Bach Collegium performing on period instruments and soloists Steven Bradshaw, Leslie Johnson, Benjamin Starr, and Jenifer L. Smith. Full info and tickets. Press Release.

 

MOYO YOGA (Montgomery County, PA) launches a major project to preserve, restore and open to the community the Lochwood Estate, a historical local property. Through active involvement and support of local businesses, volunteers and artists, this newly reconstructed space will offer expanded services, workshops and programs on yoga, wellness, arts, and natural living.  Grand opening date announcement coming soon!

 

 

 

 


 

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