“Our spring concert in Exeter Cathedral takes us to Rachmaninov’s Orthodox Russia, with his Liturgy of St John Chrysostom; it’s not such a well-known piece but extremely beautiful,” explains Nigel Perrin, Choral Director of Exeter Festival Chorus. “The litanies will be sung on the move, in candlelight and a haze of incense; it will create a marvellous spectacle.”
This first concert of the Exeter Festival Chorus 25th Anniversary Season is an immersive experience evoking the ancient musical traditions of the Russian Orthodox Church. As the house lights dim, a hush falls over the cathedral, now lit by flickering candles. A lone deep bass voice, the Deacon, intones the call to prayer, answered by the Priest, a tenor, setting the scene for the opening piece, The Great Litany (Lord have mercy), delivered by the choir in hushed reverence as it processes around the cathedral.
The reviewer of EFC’s previous performance of this work wrote “The clear and powerful singing demanded by the Russian Orthodox tradition was strikingly produced by the massed choir: the swirling volumes of sound welled up … and descended from the heavens. In dramatic contrast, too, the choir moved seamlessly to the softest, gentlest chords at the appropriate moments – the swings of mood and volume could not fail to move everyone lucky enough to be present. ”
Rachmaninov’s Liturgy of St John Chrysostom was written in the relative calm of the composer’s summer retreat while Russia was descending into chaos. By 1917, Russia was no place for a composer in search of truth and beauty and he left with his family, never to return. The opulent harmonies and lyricism of his music would hardly have endeared him to a revolutionary regime which imposed ever tighter boundaries on artistic expression and was violently averse to such “bourgeois” pursuits. In 1931 his music was officially banned in the USSR as decadent.
But we can enjoy this exceptional work freely now, in candlelight beneath the dark vaults of Exeter’s imposing mediaeval cathedral, sung by Exeter Festival Chorus, one of the most versatile and highly acclaimed choral groups in the South West. Don’t miss it.
Anniversary Brochure and tickets for all 2018 concerts are available through – http://www.exeterfestivalchorus.org.uk/
Tickets for Saturday 17 March, Exeter Cathedral
Nave: £28, £23, £20 (reserved)
Limited seating available in side aisles*: £14 front, £7 rear
*many with restricted view
Special Anniversary discounts for Students and Children: Students £5; Children (under 18 years) £1
Tickets may also be booked by phone through TicketSource: 0333 666 3366.
Lines are open 9am-7pm weekdays (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-5pm Saturdays. Calls are charged at national rate and are included in free minutes. There is a fee of £1.50 per transaction for this service.
Tickets are also available in person or by phone from Exeter Tickets, Dix’s Field, Exeter: 01392 665 885.
There is a Group Booking discount of 10% if you buy ten or more tickets
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