Rachmaninoff Choir sings at Bowdoin

Nov 06, 2012
Stephanie Kacoyanis

Brunswick — The Rachmaninoff Choir, under the direction of Anthony Antolini, will perform a free concert featuring Rachmaninoff’s 1915 “All-Night Vigil,” Op. 35 (also known as the “Vespers”) Thursday, Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m. in the Bowdoin College Chapel. There are no tickets and no reserved seats. Featured soloists in the Rachmaninoff concert are contralto Stephanie Kacoyanis, based in Boston, and tenor David Myers, Jr., tenor soloist with the Midcoast’s Down East Singers.

The choir combines members of Bowdoin Chorus, Down East Singers and choristers from Maine, New Hampshire and the greater Boston metropolitan area. Following the Bowdoin concert, the ensemble will travel to St. George’s Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Hartford, Conn., and St. Sava’s Serbian Orthodox Church in Cambridge, Mass., for performances Friday and Saturday, Nov. 16 and 17.

Rachmaninoff composed the “All-Night Vigil” during January and February 1915. Its premiere performance was a war-relief fund-raising concert March 10, 1915 by a choir of men and boys. The unaccompanied work is generally considered Rachmaninoff’s greatest choral composition and a monument of Russian Orthodox sacred music. Extreme demands are placed on the singers, particularly the low basses, who descend to subterranean parts of their vocal range. The fifth movement ends on the lowest B flat in the human range.

Rachmaninoff later used some of the melodies of the Vespers in some of his most famous instrumental compositions such as the Third Piano Concerto and the Symphonic Dances. The hour-long work includes familiar texts such as the Nunc Dimittis (Song of Simeon), the Ave Maria, the Magnificat (Song of Mary) and Gloria in Excelsis.

For more information, call 725-3347 or visit rachmaninoffchoir.org.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115 or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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