James VI was crowned King of Scotland in the Church of the Holy Rude in Stirling in 1567.  Some fifty years later the first Romanov was crowned in the Cathedral of the Dormition in the Moscow Kremlin; Tsar Mikhail’s descendants were to rule Russia for the next three centuries.  Both events took place at times of political turmoil.

The historic church in Stirling resounded lately with choral music marking the 400thanniversary of the inception of the Russian royal family in 1613.  Entitled “The Romanov Dynasty – from Triumph to Tragedy”, the concert showed how music was entwined with the history and personalities of the ruling house and the fate of the nation.  The programme included national anthems, patriotic choruses, and sacred music associated with the court.  Two directors of the Imperial Court Choir – Bortnyansky and Lvov – were represented, and Kastalsky’s Cantata Three Hundred Years, especially composed for the previous centenary, was performed.

The first opera by the ‘father of Russian music’, Mikhail Glinka, tells the story of Ivan Susanin, a patriot who laid down his life for his country and its future tsar, thus preparing the way for Mikhail Romanov’s coronation in 1613 and Russia’s future successes.  The concluding chorus from this opera A Life for the Tsar, the foundation stone of Russian opera laid in 1836 and embodying a key part of the national story, was sung.  Music by Gretchaninoff and Rachmaninoff completed the programme.  The singers were Russkaya Cappella, directed by Svetlana Zvereva and Stuart Campbell, with soloists Ksenia Karelina and Richard Roberts and Ian Boulter, organ.

The programme was received enthusiastically and will be repeated in Edinburgh on Sunday 9 June in the series ‘St Giles at Six’ and in Hyndland Parish Church in Glasgow West End Festival on Sunday 16 June at 7.30pm