Yale Russian Chorus 70th Anniversary Concert
September 9 @ 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm
80+ tenor, baritone and bass singers in a concert of Slavic liturgical and folk music from Russia, Ukraine, and elsewhere in Eastern Europe
Free admission. The Chorus invites you to a reception following at St Thomas More – Golden Room 268 Park Street, New Haven
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The Yale Russian Chorus and Alumni welcome friends old and new for a mesmerizing celebration of the rich heritage of Slavic music at Yale! Be immersed in choral music that for seven decades has captivated audiences worldwide. Revel in the power of 80+ voices resounding in the vaulted grandeur of Yale’s Woolsey Hall. Find joy in an enthralling Ukrainian Cossack song, clap and stomp to Russian folk favorites, be intrigued by esoteric Georgian hymnody, and thrill to the magnificence of Tchaikovsky and Bortniansky.
The Chorus is honored to premiere “Alliluiya” by Russian Composer Anton Viskov, who has dedicated the piece to the YRC. Also featured is the prayer “Otche Nash” (Our Father), composed by the Chorus’s founder, Denis Mickiewicz.
The Yale Russian Chorus began in 1953 when George Litton, the head of the Yale Russian Club, invited Denis Mickiewicz, a student at Yale School of Music, to share some Russian folk songs with club members. In 1958 the Chorus was the first music group from the United States to tour in the USSR, the first of its nineteen tours in eastern Europe. They have sung in Carnegie Hall five times, at the White House (for President Clinton), and on the PBS radio show, “Prairie Home Companion.” They have frequently performed with various opera companies and orchestras and often toured throughout the United States. The Chorus is among the oldest Slavic singing groups in the United States.
See image of the YRC founder Denis Mickiewicz conducts a group of YRC alums
Gabriel Mesa, the current conductor of the Yale Russian Chorus, has reflected on how in performance the rapturous, bold bravado of the Chorus’ persona is consonant with the deeply spiritual and ethereal ancient musical repertoire. “The Chorus’s musical tradition subsumes both ego and the present for something eternal and decidedly universal in nature. Our concerts invite the audience into that same dialogue, as we introduce the storied histories of each song, each with its own array of emotions. We often end each performance by spilling out into the crowd to meet both first-time listeners and those who have not heard such music sung since their youth, much less by a group of American college students.”
See Image of the YRC 65th Anniversary Concert at Woolsey Hall in 2018
The mission of the Yale Russian Chorus Alumni Association is to promote intercultural understanding and global peace through the music the Chorus sings—from Russia, Ukraine, Central and Eastern Europe, and elsewhere in Eurasia, as well as from America. As Benjamin Rifkin, President of the YRC Alumni Association, asserts, “We hope that our attention to the beauty of the musical cultures of this region reminds us all of a potential future in which all people can live in peace in their own countries, speaking their own languages, and supporting and sustaining their own traditions.”
In the words of Stephan Sveshnikov, assistant conductor, “This is a historic anniversary for a group that has really been on the forefront of cultural diplomacy and excellence in a cappella singing for the last 70 years. We would like to extend an invitation to singers of good will to join with us and build on that tradition.”
Poignant, powerful recollections of the YRC in Kyiv Ukraine in the Soviet Era
See image of the Chorus at the Monastery of the Caves in Kyiv.
The chorus has long cherished its rich kinship with the people of Ukraine, often visiting the Kyivo-Pechersk Lavra over the decades. The Monastery of the Caves has been a most important seat of the Orthodox faith since its founding in the year 1051 AD. Very sadly, those gold-gilt domes are now regularly seen on news reports.