Slavyanka Russian Chorus presents the U.S. premiere of Konstantin Shvedov’s Liturgy, a rarely-performed Russian sacred masterwork for mixed choir that was written more than one hundred years ago.
Before the outbreak of World War I and the Russian Revolution, a revival of sacred music centered at the Moscow Synodal School. Konstanin Shvedov wrote his Liturgy in 1913, a 13-movement setting of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, the central service of the Russian Orthodox Church. Shvedov was widely considered to be a significant musical innovator of this period but his work ultimately became lost during the tumultuous events of this time and was not heard again until more than 70 years later when a public performance, initiated by Slavyanka Artistic Director Irina Schachneva, was given in Moscow by choral group Vitrazh.
Following Irina Shachneva’s graduation from the highly-esteemed Gorky (now Nizhni Novgorod) Conservatory, her conducting professor secretly entrusted her with photo negatives of Shvedov’s original Liturgy score which was published before the Soviet Revolution and preserved as such due to the danger posed by the possession of musical scores during the Stalin era. They remained hidden under her mattress for safekeeping until the 1980s when Irina, her friend and colleague Yelena Rastvorova, and a group of musicians created handwritten scores transcribed from the photo negatives. Officially recognized groups during the Soviet era were required to write Soviet themed music and all compositions and performances had to be approved by the Ministry of Culture who refused to support or fund the efforts to perform Shvedov’s long lost work. Despite undertaking significant risk, Irina and Elena decided to forge ahead and present the first modern performance of this work in mid-May of 1988 in the Moscow district of Kosovo. Almost exactly 35 years later, Irina will now lead Slavyanka in the very first performance of this work in the United States.
Presented by Slavyanka Russian Chorus
First Lutheran Church
600 Homer Street
Palo Alto, California 94301
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