The Second San Francisco Festival of Russian Choral Music takes place over the next two weekends, hosted by the choir called Slavyanka, and artistic director Irina Shachneva. In the final concert, there’s a West Coast premiere of a piece by the composer sometimes called the “Russian Bach,” Sergei Taneyev. Not well known outside of Russia, he was a student and friend of Tchaikovsky and Nikolai Rubenstein, and a teacher of Rachmaninoff and Scriabin, among many others.
There’s more about the festival at the Slavyanka website.
The first two concerts will feature four ensembles each, with Russian Roots on the afternoon of Sunday the 15th in Berkeley, and Reaching Toward Heaven on Friday the 20th. “That concert will be all sacred music,” Paul Andrews says. He was one of the founding members of Slavyanka. “Mostly from what we call the Silver Age, which is the particular age when composition in Russia really just flowered. The big question was how do we take these old ancient Russian chants and give them forms that incorporate what we’re learning from the West.” The concert that ends the festival, Russia’s Bach, on Sunday the 22nd, shines a spotlight on one of the best-known and respected composers in Russia, with the West Coast premiere of Taneyev’s Ioann Damaskin, a cantata that’s accompanied by orchestra, and has a text similar to the Requiem. Paul Andrews explains the title refers to the original author of the work is based on. “The text was originally written by John of Damascus, who lived in the eighth century. And it was written for the funeral of a brother monk of his. And a thousand years later, [Aleksey Konstantinovich] Tolstoy borrowed some of those words and put them in his poem, and it’s from that poem that Taneyev took his text.” Slavyanka will be accompanied by the Festival Orchestra for that work, and joined by countertenor Andrej Nemzer for a movement from another cantata, his final opus, called At the Reading of a Psalm. Nemzer will sing other in the first half of the program.