Facebook YouTube Twitter in RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Russian

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.

 

 


 

Ducks Are Flying…for Van Cliburn (Летят Утки для Вана Клиберна) Part II of II

Posted on: March 3rd, 2013 by Inna Heasley 3 Comments

READ PART I OF THIS STORY

 

UPDATE FROM FEB. 2015:

This amazing story continues on because “Ducks Are Flying” has taken on the life of its own in the United States. Hear all about it here. Thanks to Susan Lewis and WRTI FM for bringing it to light!

 

PART 2 CONTINUED:

I am sharing some new information, updates and insights kindly provided by Archie Bailey, the Executive Director of Schola Cantorum of Texas, one of the choirs singing at Van Cliburn’s funeral service today in Forth Worth, TX:

 

“From the melody I found on the web, Tom [Stoker, a longtime friend of Van and his mother – ih] had a friend and greatly talented composer begin arraigning The Ducks are Flying as a backup in case we could not get an original. We ran his score today and with your help from your score and vocal mp3 we have a tremendously beautiful work. It will be sung as the casket leaves the church. It will be most moving and an appropriate expression of our loss. Thank you for your help. I will send you a copy of the arrangement by Kyle. You will cry when you hear it.”

 

“About 1/5th of the total singers are Schola on such short notice. About 1/5th are from the Arlington Master Chorale, the rest are from the two church choirs.

 

Van was so loved that we even have a few little, stooped ladies on walkers and canes singing their hearts out for him.

 

He was a tender man, and loved all things of beauty in nature.

 

Van once said ‘only the birds sing for free.’  Today we are honored to be his birds, singing from the heart for all the world to hear.”

 

# # #

 

FUNERAL SERVICE INFORMATION:

 

The service will start at 3 PM today, March 3, 2013  at Broadway Baptist Church, Fort Worth, TX.

 

With the Fort Worth Symphony and 270 voices in the chorus. The chorus is made up of Schola Cantorum of Texas, the Arlington Master Chorale, Broadway Baptist Chancel Choir and Arborlawn United Methodist Chancel Choir.

Repertoire includes:

“Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” — Wilberg
“Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” – Wilberg
“Old Hundredth” – Vaughan Williams
“Moscow Nights” (in Russian)
“The Lord’s Prayer” – Tschaikovsky (in Russian)

“Ducks are Flying” – Russian Folk Song (in Russian)

 

Live broadcast: Charter Cable channel 101, Turner Broadcasting (Time Warner) channel 371, on radio WBAP 820 AM, and will be rebroadcast on WFAA Channel 8 at 1:05 am Monday morning.

 

READ PART I

 

And here is the video recording of the funeral service:

 

http://www.fwsymphony.org/hld/misc/van_cliburn.asp

 


 

Russian Opera Workshop on WRTI’s CROSSOVER

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

L to R: Ghenady Meirson, William Stone, Nicholas Masters and Jill Pasternat at Academy of Vocal Arts

My client Russian Opera Workshop was recently featured on WRTI’s Crossover with the amazing  Jill Pasternak!  Jill and the WRTI engineer/production manager and classical host Joe Patti visited the Academy of Vocal Arts to speak with Workshop’s founder and director Ghenady Meirson (also faculty at Curtis Institute and AVA, and accomplished pianist), and his colleagues who coached the singers this summer: renowned baritone and AVA faculty William Stone, Philadelphia Singers and Curtis Opera Musical Director David Hayes, and 2012 Met Opera Auditions Finalist baritone and the workshop participant  Nicholas Masters.

Listen to the Crossover production of  “The Art of Singing Opera… In Russian!”  filled with conversation, Russian music and songs.

 

 


 

inna@pr-perfect.com
tel: 215.280.4824
fax: 267.613.8627