MOSCOW: December 17, 2012
The Russian Capital Hosts the Round Table
“Songs of the Russian Diaspora in Rumyantsev Museum”
On November 21, 2012, the auditorium of Moscow’s Department of Music Publication and Recordings of the Russian State Library (Pashkov House), hosted a round table titled “Songs of the Russian Diaspora,” with the participation of clergymen, publishers, composers, singers, researchers and connoisseurs of liturgical music. The ninth CD from the series “Songs of the Russian Diaspora” made its debut at the event.
After singing “King of Heaven,” the round table opened with an address by Ms Alla Semeniuk, Director of the Department of Musical Notes and Recordings of the RSL.
The first speech was read by Protopriest Sergei Pravdolyubov, Professor of Moscow Theological Academy. Fr Sergei talked about the relationship between divine services and church singing, and how the choir of Holy Trinity-St Sergius Lavra once astounded him. Such differences in style, but something remained the same—the singing was profoundly prayerful. The entire divine service represents a refined system of movements and gestures. Every symbol, every prayer, is a palette of moods and states of mind.
Vladimir Gorbik, choir direct of the Moscow Podvorie [office] of Holy Trinity-St Sergius Lavra, shared his experiences with many compositions and harmonizations of the Russian diaspora. In his opinion, they have preserved in a creative sense the wonderful unity which can together be called a school. One characteristic of this school is asceticism, the removal of any excessive passion. On one hand the music of these composers is remarkably simple, on the other hand, the music is not at all easy to sing, profound contemplation is required.
Musicologist Svetlana Zvereva, consultant for the “Songs of the Russian Diaspora” series, talked about its importance, and about the exhaustive work being done in finding biographical details of the composers they feature. As a result, they were able to seek out and record the music of many composers previously unknown in their homeland. The series therefore is working hand-in-hand with the Orthodox Encyclopedia series, which publishes biographical articles on the composers of the Russian diaspora.
Alla Semenyuk then introduced the author of the “Songs of the Russian Diaspora” series, San Francisco’s Protopriest Peter Perekrestov of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. One of the consequences of the catastrophe which befell Russia after 1917 was the exodus of several million Orthodox Christians. They lived in exile, forcibly separated from their homeland’s centuries-old church music tradition. After the fall of the Iron Curtain, Fr Peter had the idea of publishing a series of CDs of church music exclusively composed in the Russian diaspora, sung by church choirs of the former Soviet Union. The time has come to return these church treasures to the homeland.
Many emigre composers died unknown and in poverty, not having lived to see the publication, and moreover, the performance of their works. Father Peter collected notes throughout the world, corresponding with the composers’ relatives, sought out singers, listened to church choirs. In his speech he noted the choir directors and their singers, the people who provided the notes and biographical materials, photos, as well as translators, authors of arrangements for various choirs, annotators, sound directors, sponsors and family members. Fr Peter thanked the Lord for these people and their generosity.
This new—ninth—CD from the series was performed by Novospassky Monastery under the direction of Leonid Baklushin. The recording was made possible by the Council of Benefactors of Novospassky Monastery under Leonid Petrovich Reshetnikov. The disc includes works by Archbishop Gabriel (Chepur), Ivan Gardner, Alexander Grechaninov, Andrei Ilyashenko, Nicholas Kedrov (fils), Michael Konstantinov, Maxim Kovalevsky, Boris Ledkovsky and Nicholas Tcherepnin.
The participants also viewed a small exhibition of selections from the Musical Note Department of the Department of Liturature of the Russian Diaspora. Among these are the Obikhod (all-night vigil) harmonized by Boris Ledkovsky and three collections of his compositions.
Ms Nadezhda Ryzhak, Collections Director of the Literature of the Russian Diaspora at RSL, talked about how many of these books and compendia of notes found their way into the library’s collection. It all began with a letter received from Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY, the spiritual center of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. Its library represents the largest theological book depository in the Russian emigration.
Over the course of several years, packages containing books and periodicals would arrive from Jordanville. But one package of literature was exceptionally large, containing over 100 books. The monastery did not have the money to ship them, so the RSL appealed to Aeroflot for help. As a result, the airline transported the shipment of treasured books free of charge from New York.
The publisher of Zhivonosny istochnik , Oleg Bychkov, described the life of the ascetic priest who labored over the preservation of the music of the Russian diaspora, Protopriest Nikolai Veiglas, and gave the RSL over 200 brochures from the series “Note Library of the Orthodox Christian,” and also a beautiful new compendium of liturgical-music notes: “At the Holy Altar Table.”
This includes exclusively songs written by Orthodox clergymen. One copy was given to Fr Sergei. The new volume contains 5 compositions written by his father, Protopriest Anatoly Pravdolyubov, who had survived Solovki Prison Camp and devoted the rest of his life to serving the Church.
In conclusion, Ms Semenyuk honored Lev Lobykin, another remarkable individual—a singer and choir director. During Soviet times he spent years gathering handwritten variations of musical notes, then photographed them. His collection comprises exactly a thousand microdiscs. In five thick binders of a catalog, the calligraphic handwriting of Lev Leonidovich lists all the compositions and biographical information on their composers: the birth and death dates, whom they studied under, etc. After Lobykin’s death, the RSL acquired this unique collection from his widow.
“We need only to submit this to academia,” said Alla Alekseevna, “Our idea is to digitize these notes and provide free access to them.”
Besides speeches and presentations, the evening included the performance of music by the composers of the Russian diaspora by Novospassky Monastery’s quintet, under Leonid Golubev, and the choir of Zhivonosny istochnik, under Evgeny Travin.
Each participant received a disk from the “Songs of the Russian Diaspora” series. At the end of the event, refreshments were served. Notable among the participants were musicologist Marina Rakhmanova; Alexei Pokrovsky (of the Male Choir of St Antipa in Moscow); Victoria Smirnova (Moscow Boys’ Capella); composer Anton Viskov; Georgy Smirnov (Art Director of the Pravoslavniy pevchiye choir); Tatiana Samborskaya (Danilov Monastery Recording Studio); Olga Reshetnikova (wife of the former President of the Council of Benefactors of Novospassky Conservatory); Kseniya Arabovskaya (Recording Department of the Publishing Arm of the Moscow Patriarchate); Sergei Belikov (choir director of St Pimen the Great Church in Moscow, Professor at the Academy of Slavonic Culture); Lyudmila Zummer (choir director of Feodorovsky Cathedral in Yaroslavl) and Vera Romanchenko (choir director of the Synodal Library).
According to Ms Zvereva, “This meeting at the library was ‘epochal,’ since it assembled many people who work in the field of church singing, who are rarely all seen together.”
Audio clips can be heard here:
Sticheron to the Kursk Icon –Kievan Chant, harm. B. Ledkovsky
Cherubic Hymn. "Starosimonovskaya" – harm. I. Gardner.
O House of Ephratha, Automelon, tone 2 – Valaam Chant, harm. A. Ilyashenko.
The CD can be purchased from:
Holy Virgin Community Bookstore
6200 Geary Boulevard
San Francisco, CA 94121
Wholesale purchases (five or more) can be purchased from the publisher:
475 26th Avneue, #2
San Francisco, CA 94121
PHOTOS: VLADIMIR HODAKOV