The Moscow Sretensky Choir, a 42-man a cappella ensemble based at one of the Russian capital's most ancient monasteries, begins a five-city North American debut tour on Tuesday (September 4) with a concert at Avery Fisher Hall in New York City.
Founded in 1395, the Sretensky Monastery is now located in 17th-century stone buildings in Moscow. Following the Bolshevik revolution, according to choir's website, the Soviet authorities emptied the monastery, executed or imprisoned the monks and used the buildings as offices for the NKVD and its successor, the KGB. Once the Communist regime fell, the monastery was reconstituted and the Sretensky Choir was established to provide music for the monastery's liturgical services.
Founded by the monastery's abbot, Archimandrite Tikhon Shevkunov, and directed by Nikon Zhila, the Moscow Sretensky Choir now sings the Divine Liturgy regularly at the Sretensky Monastery as well as at other locations; it frequently provides music for services led by Alexei II, Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, at the Cathedral of the Dormition in the Kremlin. In addition, according to the Choir's website, Zhila and his singers pursue an ongoing project to research, arrange and perform older Russian sacred music, from ancient chant to liturgical works composed — and suppressed — during the Communist era.
The Choir is undertaking this North American and round-the-world tour in celebration of the reunification this year of the Moscow Patriarchate with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, a once-bitter opponent which maintained a separate organization and hierarchy throughout the Communist era. The tour's concert program includes four liturgical works and 19 folk songs and romances.
The tour itinerary includes:
Sept. 4 - New York, NY - Avery Fisher Hall - www.lincolncenter.org
Sept. 6 - Boston, MA Cutler Majestic Theatre - www.maj.org
Sept. 8 - Toronto, ON - Toronto Centre for the Arts - www.ticketmaster.ca
Sept. 12 - Washington, DC - Coolidge Auditorium, Library of Congress - www.ticketmaster.com
Sept. 14 - San Francisco, CA - Davies Symphony Hall - www.cityboxoffice.com
After departing San Francisco, the Choir continues on to Melbourne (Sept. 21), Sydney (Sept. 23), Geneva (Sept. 27), Berlin (Sept. 28), London (Sept. 30) and Paris (Oct. 4).