THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
June 17th 2015
By Russkaya Cappella
Originally published in:
In June 2015 Russkaya Cappella made three appearances in several Scottish towns: on the 12th at the reception given in Edinburgh by the Consul-General of the Russian Federation in honour of Russia’s National Day; and on the 13th and 14th at full-length concerts in the West Kirk in East Kilbride and Glasgow, the latter – by tradition – as part of the city’s West End Festival.
The concert programme was very rich. The first part contained 11 sacred music compositions and the second 10 pieces, mainly settings of secular poetry by classic Russian composers. The sacred music represented several centuries and a variety of tendencies, from ancient znamenny chant to works written by Bortnyansky, Turchaninov, Kastalsky, Chesnokov and Rachmaninoff as well as Mikhail Konstantinov and Boris Ledkovsky – émigré composers in the second half of the twentieth century.
The second half opened with two songs by Rachmaninoff for soprano and piano (Vocalise and ‘How beautiful it is here’) in which Susan Sheldon shone.
Then Russkaya Cappella sang the same composer’s setting of Shelley’s The Isle (‘There was a little lawny islet’) as translated by Balmont. Two settings of Aleksey Tolstoy followed: Panteleimon the Healer, with music by Rachmaninoff, and Sacred Love, from the incidental music which Georgy Sviridov created for Tolstoy’s historical drama Tsar Feodor Ioannovich. Tchaikovsky’s partsong The little golden cloud (to a poem by Lermontov) and Glinka’s The Little Nightingale (verses by Zabela) completed this section. The soloist in Sacred Love was Elizabeth Jack, who was joined for The Little Nightingale by two recent graduates to Russkaya Cappella from the Children’s Singing Studio, Diana Ali and Ekaterina Demidova.
Nine singers from the present Children’s Singing Studio joined the adult choir for the Glorification of St Kentigern, Taneyev’s Serenade (verse by Fet) and a version of the final chorus of Glinka’s opera A Life for the Tsar, and gave a very good account of themselves. At the Glasgow concert, in Hyndland Parish Church, the adult and junior choirs repeated the song Katyusha, popular with everyone, which they had sung on 9 May at the celebration in Glasgow City Chambers of the 70th anniversary of the defeat of Nazism. Russkaya Cappella’s fifth birthday was celebrated handsomely.
In September Russkaya Cappella begins a new concert season and the Singing Studio a new school year. The first immediate aim is a concert to mark the centenary of the birth of the composer Georgy Sviridov, to include his brilliant Kursk Songs.