English Chamber Choir. Photo by John Watson.

English Chamber Choir

Rachmaninov and the Glories of the Eastern Church

Tuesday 25 April 2023, 19:30

Past Event
English Chamber Choir Past Event


Rachmaninov Vespers (All-Night Vigil), Op. 37
Ivan Moody Evangelismos (world premiere, ECC 50th anniversary commission)
Steinberg Passion Week, Op. 13 – Behold the bridegroom comes; Do not lament me, O Mother
Leontovych Cherubic Hymn; The Lord’s Prayer
Tchaikovsky Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, Op. 41 – Praise the Lord from the Heavens


English Chamber Choir
Guy Protheroe conductor

The English Chamber Choir returns to Cadogan Hall to conclude its 50th anniversary year with a rich and varied programme reflecting another strand of its repertoire – music written for the Eastern Orthodox tradition.

Rachmaninov (1883-1943) has two anniversaries this year. He completed his Vespers (All-Night Vigil) in 1915, but two years later chose to leave Russia and escape the Soviet Union. He spent the rest of his life based in the USA, but with frequent visits to Europe, and continued his career as a virtuoso concert pianist and conductor. His best-known work is possibly his Piano Concerto No. 2 (immortalised in the film Brief Encounter) but the Vespers are widely regarded as one of the treasures of 20th-century choral repertoire. It is paired here with extracts from two other works written contemporaneously and in a similarly rich harmonic language, and in contrast to a new work written a century later.

Maximilian Steinberg was born into a Lithuanian-Jewish family in Vilnius, and went to St Petersburg to study science and music, Unlike Rachmaninov, he opted to stay in Russia, teaching at the Leningrad Conservatoire for the rest of his life. This meant his Passion Week never saw the light of day under Stalin but it was published in Paris in the late 1920s. Copies of this edition are very rare but one came to light in the USA and was passed to the scholar Alexander Lingas who edited and performed it with his choir Cappella Romana. So far the ECC is the only European Choir to have performed it complete.

Mykola Leontovych, from Ukraine, is best known for his Carol of the Bells. Like Steinberg he studied in St Petersburg, but in 1917 relocated to Kyiv where he taught at the Conservatoire and wrote mainly a cappella choral music. He was murdered by a Soviet agent in 1921 and is known as a martyr in the Eastern Orthodox Ukrainian Church, where he is also remembered for his Liturgy.

British composer Ivan Moody, a former pupil of John Tavener, now lives in Lisbon where he is also an Orthodox Priest in the parish of Estoril. He has written extensively for voices, both chorally and in smaller groups, and has written several pieces for the ECC including When Augustus Reigned and Sub Tuum Praesidium. He is a leading musicologist specialising in the music of the many and varied Orthodox traditions. He is also a Patron of the Choir.

Evangelismos is his latest work, written for the Choir’s 50th anniversary. The text is in English, with a couple of Greek interjections, and tells the story of the Annunciation, with the Angel Gabriel addressing the Virgin in rather similar terms to that of the traditional prayer ‘Hail Mary…’.

Duration: approx. 1 hour 40 mins (incl. interval)

Ticket Information

£32, £25, £20, £16

Full-time Students: £5 off

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