On Sunday evening I had the pleasure of attending a concert given by the above choir at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester and it was an evening of utter beauty of sound. They made music that filled the hall and at times made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I was trying to work out how the choir was made up……tenors (possibly a counter tenor), basses and what sounded like at least one basso profundo but whatever the combination they were magnificent.
The concert was divide in two halves, the first half being the sacred music and the second the Russian folk songs. It was inreresting that the audience did not applaud until the end of all the sacred pieces and then they simply rose to give rapturous applause.
The second half was more informal and the choir enjoyed themselves with a range of traditional folk songs (none of which I knew) featuring various soloists. After two encores the audience stood to applaud……..and I was up there with them.
Founded by Anatoly Grindenko in 1983, The Russian Patriarchate Choir of Moscow consists of 12 members, including Grindenko. As well as performing both in Russia and internationally, the singers are dedicated scholars of the repertoire for male voices who led the way in the re-discovery of Orthodox Church music in the late years of the Soviet Regime.
At this time – when this music was far from approved by the government – the choir spent years decoding ancient manuscripts and giving the first performances of works that had lain in obscurity for centuries. With the collapse of the Soviet Union came the opportunity for them to perform internationally and bring this music to a wider public.