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MOSCOW: September 30, 2008
"The Russian Diaspora: Music and Orthodoxy" Conference Opens

From 17-19 September 2008, at Moscow's library archive "The Russian Diaspora," the first international scholarly conference on the theme "The Russian Diaspora: Music and Orthodoxy" took place.  This event was dedicated to the musicians of the Russian Diaspora, for whom the Orthodox Church was the center of their spiritual life in foreign lands. 

Participants and guests awaited their own journey to this forgotten and unknown archipelago of artistic culture.  The "islands" of this archipelago were scattered throughout the world, yet on them the Russian language was heard everywhere, the hearth-fires of Russian culture burned, and the domes of Russian Orthodox church reached up toward the heavens. 

"Beyond Russia's borders the Church was free, and its musical culture could develop fully," VA Moskvin, the director of the library archive "The Russian Diaspora," said as he opened the conference.  The reading of greetings followed his opening remarks.  They came from Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, from Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, the Chairman of the Department of External Church Relations, and from Bishop Elisei of Sourozh.  In their words of greeting, the unifying and missionary significance of Church music was stressed, and mention was made of its special role in the Russian Diaspora.  "Finding themselves in foreign lands, our compatriots were able to preserve their own original style of life, the core of which was the divine services.  Thanks to this, Russian spiritual music in the Diaspora not only was preserved, but developed, revealing to the heterodox world the magnificence and beauty of Holy Orthodoxy" (Metropolitan Kirill). 

Twenty-eight reports were delivered at the conference, whose authors hailed from Belarus, Great Britain, Canada, Russia, Serbia, the United States and France.  Many of the lecturers were staff-members of, or post-graduate students attached to libraries, archives and scholarly, pedagogical and ecclesiastical institutions,—the Gnesin Academy of Music, the State Institute for the Study of Art, the MI Glinka State Central Museum of Musical Culture, the Russian State Library, the Russian National Library, the Moscow Conservatory, the Synodal Library of the Moscow Patriarchate, the Universities of Glasgow and Maryland, the Church Music Commission of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, et al.  Several of the lecturers hold priestly rank; many were choir directors, church readers and parishioners of Russian churches. 

At the conference one encountered researchers who specialize in the Russian Diaspora on the basis of written sources, and representatives of the Diaspora who have dedicated many years to the practical execution of Church music.  Among them were: Protopriest Michael Fortunatto from Chatelle-Montagne (France); Andrei Tarasiev from Belgrade; Vladimir Krasovsky from San Francisco; Protopriest Andrei Papkov from Chicago and Ivan Drobot from Paris.  The emigre researchers Andrei Arseniev from Novi Sad (Serbia) and Mona Finley from Darlington Point (Australia) grew up in families of Russian church musicians. 

The conference brought together enthusiasts and people of like mind, and became the first international festival dedicated to the art of the Russian Orthodox emigration. 

The focal points of the majority of the reports were the processes at work in the Russian Diaspora during the "first" and "second" waves of 20th century Russian emigration.  Talk centered on musical ensembles, composers, directors, singers, scholars and publications.  The question "How were the pre-Revolutionary traditions preserved and developed by musicians who imagined a time when the militantly atheistic regime would fall in their homeland and the Russian musical legacy they had increased by their efforts would serve a liberated Russia?" rang forth with particular avidity. 

A number of presentations were chiefly reminiscences.  These were received not only with great interest, but had a highly emotional affect on the audience. 

Among the objectives of the conference was the exchange of information and experience, the consolidation of scholarly efforts, and the attracting of the young toward research.  But what may perhaps be seen as more important was the concept of preserving the heritage of the Diaspora, which is literally disappearing before our very eyes.  Moreover, it is precisely that which, to a certain degree, will provide the key to the understanding of many processes observable in the artistic culture and spiritual life of the Russian Diaspora. 

The reports were accompanied by a display of archival photographs, the airing of films and the playing of audio-recordings of musical performances.  The conference enriched its attendees both intellectually and spiritually.  Many of those personages who were the subject of the lectures were great ascetics and unmercenaries, who selflessly served their Church and Russian art. 

The program of the Conference consisted of six thematic sessions. 

The first of them, "Paris, London," on September 17th, included lectures by Ivan Drobot, Nikolai Spassky (Paris), and Marina Rakhmanova (Moscow), which were dedicated to the well-known Paris church musicians EI Evets, PB Spassky and ME Kovalevsky.  The history and liturgical music practice of the Cathedral of the Dormition of the Mother of God and All Saints, in London, was treated in the reports of Michael Fortunatto (London) and Natalia Balueva (Kostroma).  Protopriest Michael Fortunatto, who for many decades led the choir of that church, shared his thoughts on how the church music of the emigration further developed the traditions of pre-Revolutionary Russia. 

The second session, "The USA, Brazil," also on September 17, opened with the report of Protopriest Andrei Papkov, who surveyed the history of liturgical singing in the context of Church history.  Natalia Zelenskaya (Minsk) spoke about Ledkovsky as a follower of AD Kastal'sky, the last head of the new trend in church music.  Vladimir Krassovsky likewise dedicated his report to the topic of the continuity of traditions and called attention to the activity of the Russian choir directors of the west coast of the United States, many of whom came to California from China.  Irina Dynnikov (Moscow) chose as her subject the transmission of the chant traditions of the Old Ritualist chapels in Brazil. 

On September 18, within the context of the third session, "Secular Musicians of the Russian Orthodox Diaspora," reports were heard dedicated to NN and AN Tcherepnine (Liudmila Korabel'nikova, Moscow), AT Gretchaninov (Elena Sigeikina, Moscow), AA Swan and MB Brazhnikov (Natalia Rakhmanova, St Petersburg), and IF Stravinsky (Stuart Campbell, Glasgow).  At the heart of Nadezhda Mosusova's (Belgrade) lecture was a history of the performance of the Orthodox operas of Mussorgsky and Rimsky-Korsakov in Europe, by Russian emigre singers.  The session concluded with a documentary film on the family of the Lymin family of Moscow philanthropists and the composer IS Lyamin, which was introduced by Marina Rakhmanova. 

During the fourth session, "Serbia, Czechoslovakia, Germany," on September 18, Andrei Tarasiev, and Alexei Arseniev, who came from Serbia, delivered lectures on the history of Russian church singing in Belgrade and the provincial cities of Serbia, from 1920-1970.  Natalia Meleshkova (Moscow) treated the problem of the national identity of the Russians in the Prague emigration. 

The second half of the fourth session was dedicated to Germany: this included reports by Marina Ledkovsky (Freeport, U.S.A.), and Protopriest Boris Danilenko (Moscow), the central figure of which was IA Gardner, the renowned historian of Russian church singing.  In MV Ledkovsky's lecture, which was read in the absence of the author, reminiscences of Gardner were set in the context of the history of his relations with the Priest Pavel Hoecke, his matushka VK Hoecke, and BM Ledkovsky.  Ekaterina Sadikov (Moscow) chose as the theme of her report the history of Russian liturgical singing in Germany. 

The fifth session of the conference was dedicated to the topic "Serge Jaroff's Don Cossack Choir: Its Traditions and Their Development" (September 19).  Interest in this legendary ensemble has grown in Russia in connection with the recent transferal of part of the Choir's archives to the Glinka Museum of Musical Culture and the library-archive "The Russian Diaspora."  The session opened with reports by Natalia Danchenkova (Moscow), "Serge Jaroff: The Pheomenon of Nationality," and Alexei Rudnevsky (Moscow), "The Conductor Serge Jaroff: Historical Peculiarities of Performance Technique."  Mona Finley, the daughter of Tikhon Askochensky, who sang in one of the Don Cossack choirs, spoke about the fate of the Jaroff singers in Australia.  Protopriest Andrei Dyakonov (St Petersburg) spoke on the experience of organizing the archival materials of this ensemble. 

The conference concluded with the sixth session, "The Publications and Performance of Russian Spiritual Music in the West" (September 19), at which three reports were heard.  Vladimir Kolupaev spoke about the publication of Russian liturgical music books outside Russia.  The report of Mikhail Danilevsky from San Francisco, read by VV Krassovsky, was dedicated to the singing of the Organization of Young Russian Scouts abroad.  And the session ended with the lecture of Denis Brearley (Ottawa), who spoke about the Russian chamber choirs performing in Western Europe between 1930-1940. 

The conference was accompanied by the exhibit "The Russian Orthodox Musical Diaspora," prepared by us in cooperation with AA Naumov, a staff-member of the Glinka Museum of Musical Culture. 

During one of the intervals, an exposition of photographs of Orthodox musicians and choral ensembles from the archives of various institutions and private individuals was shown.  The exhibit made it possible to view rare images of famous Russian musicians, as well as church composers, directors and students of music known principally among the Diaspora.  The exhibit included photographs of SV Rakhmaninov, KK Medtner, FI Shaliapin, NP Afonsky, SA Jaroff, NF Kostriukov, N Gedda, IA, Gardner, IT Gorokhov, Fr Anatoly Dreving, VA Dreving, EI Evets, NN Kedrov pere et fils, ME Kovalevsky, IA Kolchin, AI Krestostovsky, BM and AB Ledkovsky, DP Orlov, MM Osorgin, VS Luksha, IS Lyamin, PF Raspopov, PV Spassky, SV Savitsky, AA Swan, KN Shvedov, MA Shulyakovsky, and others. 

A second part of the exhibit contained materials brought by conference participants, as well as those sent in from various countries.  The section dedicated to BM and AB Ledkovsky was assembled from materials provided by MV Ledkovsky; materials on AA Swan was submitted by his widow, the scholar Dr Jane Swan; materials on IS Lymin and the photograph of ME Kovalevsky were submitted by the son of the composer, II Lyamin; materials on PV Spassky came from his son, NP Spassky; materials on EI Evets were provided by IG Drobot; materials on the Russian Orthodox emigration in Serbia were brought by AB Arseniev; materials on Russian Orthodox musical emigration in China and Australia came from AA Davydova, NB Lebedev and M Finley; materials on Nikolai Vieglais were provided by his daughter, MN Alva; the notes on the "Capella" Male Chorus came from RS Tsytovich; and so forth. 

The exhibit also displayed modern publications (books, scores, recordings) connected with the theme of the conference.  Several of them were published shortly before it commenced.  Among the new items was an audio-recording which formed part of the presentation of MV Ledkovsky: this was a reissuing of a recording of the choir of the Synodal Cathedral of Our Lady of the Sign, in New York, under the direction of BM Ledkovsky, produced in New York in 1965.  Thanks to this new edition, our contemporaries are finally able to assess Ledkovsky's mastery as a conductor. 

On the eve of the conference the latest volume of the series "Russian Spiritual Music in Documents and Materials," which in 2008 marks the tenth anniversary of its existence, came out.  The new (6th) volume, entitled " SV Smolensky and His Correspondents," was prepared by MP Rakhmanova with the help of AA Naumov. 

Two musical anthologies, issued by the publisher "Life-bearing Spring," were unveiled at the conference.  The first of them was "PG Chesnokov. Church Works for Mixed Choir a Capella.  Six Settings from Hitherto Unpublished Manuscripts"; the second is "AD Kastal'sky.  Selected Hymns for the Divine Liturgy and Hierarchal Services."  These anthologies also include compositions written by these famous church composers after 1917.  On the eve of the conference the sixth disc in the series "The Hymns of the Russian Diaspora," sung by the choir of the Metochion of the Holy Trinity-St Sergius Lavra, under the direction of Valdimir Gorbik, was also unveiled. 

The conference was accompanied by church services, concerts, excursions, and the presentation of new publications. 

Thus, on the evening of September 17, conference participants listened to a performance by the hierarchal male chorus of Saratov's Cathedral of the Descent of the Holy Spirit, under the direction of Alexander Zaporin, which appeared thanks to the kind suggestion of Bishop Longin of Saratov and the Volga, who attended the lectures on the first day. 

A noteworthy event at the conference on September 18 was the report given by Protopriest Andrei Papkov on his father, NA Papkov, an artist and iconographer of the Russian Diaspora, which was also accompanied by a small exhibit of his work. 

NA Papkov was born on 11/24 January 1906, in the village of Zubrilovka, in the Balashov District of the Province of Saratov, and reposed on May 17, 1994, in the United States.  Hitherto, he had been principally known for his hallmark icon of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, as well as for his portrait of the holy Archbishop John of Shanghai.  But the predominant portion of Papkov's legacy has remained in obscurity.  Fr Andrei's report was accompanied by a computer presentation:  included were his cycle in oils, dating from 1943, entitled "Kaunaskie Etudes," pencil sketches from the War years, drawings in the series "Petersburg Album" (from 1947), the cycle "The Sixth Seal," and reproductions of iconography and church decoration.  (Living in the United States, NA Papkov executed the frescoes of the Church of St Seraphim of Sarov at Novo-Diveevo Convent, the Church of the Protection of the All-holy Theotokos in Nyack, and the Church of St Sergius of Radonezh attached to "Tolstoy Farm"—the north, south and west walls).  Fr Andrei's talk made a powerful impression on his audience.  The creative work of this artist and iconographer was a revelation to Russia 

On the evening of September 18, within the context of the conference the unveiling of the newly issued artistic album, "The Tales of Shaliapin," took place, which was described by the director of the publishing concern "Posterity," Vladimir Pronin, and the deputy director of the Glinka Museum of Musical Culture, Irina Medvedeva.  The latter also spoke about the role of the heirs of Feodor Shaliapin in the founding in Moscow of the Shaliapin House Museum, which this year has been in existence for twenty years.  At the end, an amateur film shot in 1929 was run, showing Feodor Shaliapin and his son Boris with the family of Sergei Rakhmaninov. 

On the final day of the conference, September 19, AA Podmazo, a representative of the Federal Office of the  Oversight of the Maintenance of Legality in the Preservation of Cultural Heritage, transferred scores from the Capella Male Chorus to various archives, libraries, publishing concerns and educational institutions. 

The Capella Choir was founded in the United States in 1940.  For more than half a century, the ensemble, whose membership numbered as many as 46 men at the height of its activity, undertook an extensive concert activity and set as it goal the preservation of the Russian choral heritage.  Its repertoire included church music, folk songs, the works of classical composers, etc.  At various times the choir was directed by Nikolai Afonsky, Dmitri Orlov, Boris and Alexander Ledkovsky, Mikhail Miloshev, Marina Dorogova, Georgy Margitich, and others.  In addition to original compositions for male choir, the composers of which were PG Chesnokov, NN Tcherpnin and AT Grechaninov, the choir performed settings made by the directors of the Capella Choir, as well as by Serge Jaroff, Nikolai Sheglov (known in the Diaspora as Milkola Kulikovich), and others. 

The scores were brought to Moscow from the United States by the former manager and member of the Capella Choir, RS Tsytovich, who is himself the son of a choir director.  Striving to preserve if but a portion of the music library of the historical choral ensemble, which has since ceased its activity, Rostislav Semenovich decided to transfer several containers of scores from the years 1960-1980 to the Glinka Museum of Musical Culture in Moscow and to the Sretensky Monastery.  However, there were so many duplicates that it proved possible to make them into anthologies, which have now been given to the Russian State Library, the Russian National Library, the Synodal Library of the Moscow Patriarchate, the library-archive "The Russian Diaspora," the Moscow and St. Petersburg conservatories, the Gnesin Academy of Musical Art, the Academy of Choral Art, the St Petersburg Choral Capella, the St. Sergius Metochion in Paris, etc. 

Thanks to Marina Alva, who lives in California, the Glinka Museum of Musical Culture and the library-archive "The Russian Diaspora" are now repositories of the church music scores published after World War II in the United States by her father, Protopriest Nikolai Vieglais. 

The conference concluded with a performance by Moscow's Kastal'sky Men's Chamber Choir, under the direction of Alexei Rudnevsky, which sang works of composers of the Russian Diaspora.  Included were some of the settings from the repertoire of the Capella Choir. 

On September 20, conference participants visited the graves of NM Danilin, the director of the Moscow Synodal Choir, the Great Archdeacon KV Rozov, and the church composer PG Chesnokov, at the Vagan'tov Cemetery.  At the grave of Danilin, the 130th anniversary of whose birth is marked this year, Protopriest Andrei Papkov celebrated a pannikhida.  During it, singers from the Kastal'sky Choir sang under the direction of Alexei Rudnevsky; they were joined by Protopriest Michael Fortunatto. 

On September 21, at the metochion of the Holy Trinity-St Sergius Lavra in Moscow, the choir of the metochion, under the direction of Vladimir Gorbik, sang the works of Russian emigre composers.  After the Liturgy there was tour of the metochion and a panikhida for the Orthodox musicians, artists and architects who died in foreign lands. 

In conclusion, it would be well to add that at the present time an anthology of the conference materials is being assembled, publication of which will be undertaken by the "Russian Way" publishing house in Moscow. 

It has been decided to hold another international conference on "The Russian Diaspora: Music and Orthodoxy" in three or four years' time.  The first conference has far from exhausted all the topics; and far from all the researchers have realized their intention to participate in it.  Over this interval, new materials will be located, new work undertaken. 

In the intervals between the "major" conferences, regional events connected in one way or another with the general theme may be held.  For example, the idea of a conference-exhibit "Russian Church Music in Paris" is being envisioned at the St Sergius Metochion in that city.  Another form of supporting the "hearth" which has been kindled in recent days in Moscow is individual seminars at the library-archive "The Russian Diaspora."  The topic of the first has been designated as "The Life and Activity of Evgeny Evets." 

During the conference in Moscow, Protopriest Michael Fortunatto declared that he has been waiting for such an event for 65 years.  Truly, in past years it was difficult to imagine a symposium on the Russian emigration that would gather together representatives from various lands and organizations.  And several generations of Russian people did not survive to see such times.   Thus, great responsibility rests upon us who have taken upon ourselves the audacious task of studying the legacy of the Russian emigration and the presentation of its accomplishments to contemporary society. 

Svetlana Zvereva (Glasgow-Moscow)
Scholarly organizer of the conference.