RESOUND: Music Worth Sharing
Saturday, MARCH 2, 2013
Sunday, MARCH 3, 2013
About the Project
RESOUND: Music Worth Sharing ~ In March, Vox presents a remarkable concert of music rarely presented in a performance setting, that of music from the Orthodox tradition. This concert of “music worth sharing” will feature a significant collection of Orthodox service music and will close with a series of concert works including, works by Ukrainian contemporary composer, Victoria Poleva, and Russian Romantic composer, Sergei Rachmaninoff’s glorious “Six Choruses,” accompanied by piano. Local Orthodox musicians and several singers from Sacramento’s famed, Slavic Chorale have been working with Vox to enhance the authenticity of the music and they will be joining us in chanting and singing; adding to this project as a whole. RESOUND: Music Worth Sharing is on Saturday, March 2, 2013 – 7:00 pm (6:15 pre-concert talk) and Sunday, March 3, 2013 – 5:00 pm, both at St. John’s Lutheran Church (1701 L Street, Sacramento, CA).
LEARN & HEAR: Join us before the concert on Saturday, March 2 at 6:15 pm for our pre-concert talk which will focus on the unique music of the Orthodox tradition and will include a meet and greet with our guest Orthodox musicians and singers. LEARN & HEAR: Learn about the music then hear it in the concert.
About our Guest
Selected member of the Slavic Chorale will join Vox Musica in singing on this project. The Slavic Chorale was created to help unify the Slavic community and be a positive influence in our region through the performance of classical and spiritual music. Their mission is to: glorify God through music and through service to people in our community; perform choral music at a professional level with excellence and artistry; preserve and foster Slavic musical culture in Sacramento and serve as ambassadors to other cities and nations; and develop the musicianship of our members while encouraging personal and spiritual growth.
LEARN MORE: www.SlavicChorale.com
James Volmensky and Nicholai Volmensky from the Holy Ascension Russian Orthodox Church join Vox Musica in singing on this project. Founded in 1954 the Holy Ascension Russian Orthodox Church is a part of the Diocese of San Francisco and Western America, Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.. James and Nicholai have grown up singing in their church choir, and James is currently their choir director.
LEARN MORE: www.holyascensionchurch.com
Psalm 102 (103) - Byzantine Chant
Psalm 102 (numbered 103 in the western psalter) is the first of three hymns, known as “the antiphons,” that begin the Orthodox Divine Liturgy (Eucharistic service). The antiphons were originally sung as the faithful made their procession throughout their cities to the church where the Divine Liturgy was to be celebrated , and were eventually made a permanent part of the Liturgy proper. Modern Greek practice has generally returned to using a more ancient set of antiphons, but the Russian Liturgy still embraces the 12th century practice of singing Psalm 102 (although with its own unique melodic traditions).
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:
Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; Who healeth all thy diseases;
Who redeemeth thy life from destruction, Who crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender mercies;
Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things, so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The Lord executeth righteousness and judgement for all that are oppressed.
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.
He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.
He will not always chide; neither will he keep His anger forever.
He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us.
Like as a father hath compassion on his children, so the Lord hath compassion on them that fear him.
As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.
For the wind passeth over it and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.
But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him,
and his righteousness unto children’s children;
To such as keep His covenant, and to those that remember His commandments to do them.
The Lord hath prepared His throne in the heavens, and His kingdom ruleth over all.
Bless the Lord, ye His angels, that excel in strength, that do His commandments, hearkening unto the voice of His word.
Bless ye the Lord, all ye His hosts; ye ministers of His that do His pleasure.
Bless the Lord, all His works, in all places of His dominion: Bless the Lord, O my soul.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits. Blessed art Thou, O Lord.
Let My Prayer Arise – Carpatho -Russian Chant
This hymn is from the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, a type of Eucharistic celebrated only on weekday evenings during Great Lent. The Presanctified Liturgy combines the daily Vespers service (an evening service) with additional prayers and Communion. The text of this chant comes from Psalm 140 (141) and is an iconic hymn found in any Orthodox Vespers service. Carpatho-Russian chant has its own distinctive melodic tradition among different styles of Russian chant, although it has been heavily influenced by ancient Russian Znamenny chant. The refrain employs the 4-part singing style only found much later in Orthodox liturgical music history.
v1. – Let my prayer arise in Thy sight as incense, and let the lifting up of my hands be an evening sacrifice.
v2. -Lord, I have cried to Thee, hear me! Hear the voice of my prayer when I cry to Thee. [refrain:]
v3. -Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth, and keep the door of my lips. [refrain:]
v4. -Incline not my heart to any evil thing, nor to practice wicked deeds. [refrain:]
refrain: Let my prayer arise in Thy sight as incense, and let the lifting up of my hands be an evening sacrifice.
Open to Me the Doors of Repentance – Znamenny Chant
Znamenny chant was born out of Byzantine Christian missionary work in Russia in the late 10th century. The traditional melody and style of the Byzantine missionaries was quickly adapted by the Russians to reflect their own cultural aesthetics, particularly peasant folk singing, and Znamenny chant soon became a distinct style with a unique set of melodies. The unison singing style of Znamenny chant existed as the main type of liturgical singing in Russia until the westernization of liturgical music that began in the 18th century. “Open to Me the Doors of Repentance” is a fundamental Lenten prayer in the Orthodox Church and is first heard on the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee, the third Sunday preceding Great Lent. The “doors,” or “gates” as it is also translated, almost certainly hearken to the gates of paradise from which mankind was expelled.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Open to me the doors of repentance, O Giver of Life,
for my spirit rises early to pray towards Thy holy Temple,bearing the temple of my body all defiled; but in Thy compassion, purify me by the loving kindness of Thy mercy. Now, and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.
Make straight for me the paths of salvation, O Mother of God, for I have profaned my soul with shameful sins,and have wasted my whole life in easy-going indifference; but by thy intercessions deliver me from all uncleanness.
When I think of the many evil things I have done, wretch that I am,I tremble at the fearful day of judgment,but trusting in Thy loving-kindness,but like David I cry unto Thee: Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy great mercy!
Bridegoom Matins & Great and Holy Thursday - Kievan Chant
“Bridegroom of the Church” is one of the most ancient titles attributed to Jesus Christ as a reflection of the intimate relationship between God and His people. This imagery is particularly prevalent in the hymnology of Orthodox Holy Week; that Christ cleaved to his wife (fallen humanity) and joined Himself to her flesh, even unto death and descent into Hades. The text of the Bridegroom troparion draws heavily from the parable of the ten virgins in the Gospel of Matthew. A troparion is a short hymn that establishes the liturgical theme of the day. The Bridegroom Matins occur the first four nights of Holy Week, meaning this particular troparion is sung all four evenings. Hymnography from Great and Holy Thursday naturally focuses on the betrayal of Judas, reflected here in the troparion for that day.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.
v1. – Behold, the Bridegroom comes at midnight, and blessed is the servant whom He shall find watching.
And again, unworthy is the servant whom He shall find heedless.
Beware therefore, O my soul, do not be weighed down with sleep,
lest you be given up to death and lest you be shut out of the kingdom.
But rouse yourself crying: Holy, Holy, Holy art Thou, O our God!
Through the Theotokos have mercy on us!
v2. – When the glorious disciples were enlightened at the washing of their feet before the supper,
then the impious Judas was darkened, ailing with avarice,
and to the lawless judges he betrays Thee, the righteous Judge.
Behold, O lover of money, this man who because of money hanged himself.
Flee from the greedy soul which dared such things against the master.
O Lord who art good towards all men, glory to Thee!
Antiphon 15 of Great and Holy Friday - Byzantine Chant
This Orthodox service, held on the eve of Great and Holy Friday, is built around 12 specific Gospel readings that narrate the events from Christ washing His disciples’ feet to the closing of His tomb at His burial. The readings are punctuated by the singing of various hymns, litanies, and antiphons. This particular antiphon comes after the fifth Gospel reading, from Matthew 27, which chronicles the crowd’s insistence to Pontius Pilate that the well-known criminal Barabbas be freed and that instead Jesus be crucified, when He will endure mockery for claiming kingship by Pilate’s soldiers. The text of this hymn utilizes contrasting imagery to great effect, a distinctive practice used at large in Orthodox hymnography and theology. “He Who hung the earth,” a reference to Christ being the Creator, “is hung upon the tree”- the Creator of all submits to be nailed to the cross by His creation.
Today he who hung the earth upon the waters is hung upon the tree.
The King of the angels is decked with a crown of thorns.
He Who wraps the heavens with clouds is wrapped in the purple of mockery.
He Who freed Adam in the Jordan is slapped on the face.
The Bridegroom of the Church is affixed to the cross with nails.
The Son of the virgin is pierced by a spear.
We worship Thy passion, O Christ!
Show us also Thy glorious resurrection!
Selected Stichera Verses from Great and Holy Friday - Kievan Chant
Kievan chants emerged in the 17th century as distant variants or simplifications of the much older Znamenny chants. Although sung here in 4-part harmony, as it often is today, it would have originally been sung as a monophonic melody. “Stichera” are sets of hymns, usually with verses from Psalms or other scriptures chanted in between. The text of these hymns reflect the central theme of Eastern Christianity, which diverges here from much of Western Christianity: that Christ actually descended into Hades, breaking down and eternally destroying its gates so that mankind would no longer be held captive there in death. Hell trembles in fear, meeting Life. Adam is set free from his bonds. Hell sends up its captives (the dead). The idea of Life meeting death is so awesome that the sun itself hides its rays and the foundations of the earth were shaken (references to the earthquake and darkness that fell at Christ’s crucifixion).
All creation was changed by fear when it saw Thee hanging on the cross, O Christ! The sun was darkened, and the foundations of the earth were shaken. All things suffered with the creator of all. O Lord, Who didst willingly endure this for us, glory to Thee!
When Thou didst ascend the cross, O Lord, fear and trembling fell upon creation, yet thou didst forbid the earth to swallow up those who crucified thee, and Thou didst command Hell to send up its captives for the regeneration of mortals. O Judge of the living and the dead: Thou hast come to grant life, not death. O Lover of mankind, glory to Thee!
What is this sight we behold? What is this present rest? The King of the Ages keeps the Sabbath in the tomb; through His Passion He has fulfilled the plan of salvation, granting us a new Sabbath rest. To Him let us cry aloud: “Arise, O God, and judge the earth, for Thou dost reign forever, and beyond measure is Thy great mercy!”
Today a tomb holds Him Who holds creation in the hollow of His hand. A stone covers Him Who covered the heavens with glory. Life sleeps and Hell trembles. Adam is set free from his bonds. Glory to Thy plan of salvation! By it Thou hast fulfilled all things, granting us an eternal Sabbath rest: Thy most holy resurrection from the dead!
Come, let us see our Life lying in the tomb, to give life to those who lie dead in the tombs. Come, look today on the Son of Judah sleeping; with Jacob the patriarch let us cry to Him: “Thou hast stooped down; Thou hast crouched as a lion; who dares rouse Thee up, O King?” But arise in Thin own power, O Thou who didst willingly give Thyself for us. O Lord, glory to Thee!
We see a strange and fearful mystery accomplished today. He Whom none may touch is seized. He Who looses Adam from the curse is bound. He Who tries the hearts of men is unjustly brought to trial. He Who closed the abyss is shut in prison. He before Whom the hosts of heaven stand with trembling stands before Pilate. The Creator is struck by the hand of His creature. He Who comes to judge the living and the dead is condemned to the cross. The Conqueror of Hell is enclosed in a tomb. O Thou, Who hast endured all these things in Thy tender love, Thou hast saved all men from the curse. O long-suffering Lord, glory to Thee!
The Noble Joseph - Bulgarian Melody
Along with Kievan chant, hymns labeled “Bulgarian Chant” appeared in 17th century Russia. Although original forms of Bulgarian chant have been lost, these so-called Bulgarian chants do have characteristics that some recognize as elements of Bulgarian folk singing. These “Bulgarian” melodies tend to be much more melismatic than traditional Znamenny chant, and melodic lines may be repeated throughout the text, as heard in “The Noble Joseph.” This hymn is first sung during the Vespers of Great and Holy Friday as the body of Christ is taken down from the cross during the service, but is also sung as a troparion on the 2nd Sunday after Pascha, the Sunday commemorating the Myrrhbearers, and of course on Joseph of Arimathea’s feast day in July. As with all Orthodox chants, this would originally have been sung as a unison melody, but is heard tonight arranged for 4 voices.
The noble Joseph, taking Thine immaculate Body down from the Tree,
and having wrapped It in pure linen and spices, laid It in a new tomb.
But on the third day Thou didst arise, O Lord, granting to the world great mercy.
Lamentations - Kievan Chant
The Lamentations, or epitaphios thrênos in Greek, are sung on the eve of Great and Holy Saturday. Tonight is heard an extremely abbreviated version with only 3 verses from each Stasis; when done in full the first Stasis alone has more than 70 verses. The Lamentations are sung holding lighted candles around an icon in the form of a large embroidered cloth (also known as an Epitaphios), laid on a in the center of the church and adorned with flowers and greenery, representing Christ in the tomb. During the service (but omitted here), a verse from Psalm 118 (119), the longest Psalm in the scriptures, is sung between every verse of the Stasis. Note the triumphant, joyous melody heard in Stasis 3.
v1. – In a grave they laid Thee, my Life and my Christ, and the armies of the angels stood amazed as they sang the praise of Thy submissive love.
v2. – How, O Life, dost Thou die? How dost Thou dwell entombed, Who hast slashed through all the bonds in the realm of death, and hast raised the dead in Hades from their graves?
v3. – We exalt Thee, O Lord, O Christ Jesus, our King, and we venerate Thy passion and Thy burial through which Thou hast brought redemption from our sins.
v1. – Right it is indeed, life bestowing Lord, to magnify Thee: for upon the cross were Thy most pure hands outspread, and the strength of our dread foe hast Thou destroyed.
v2. – The earth with trembling shook, and the sun concealed his face with darkness; for the light unwaning that shines from Thee with Thy body sank to darkness and the grave.
v3. – Fearfully the earth took Thy body in her bosom, O Savior. Holding her Creator she quaked in fear, and awakened those who lay dead in their tombs.
v1. – Every generation offers Thee its hymn of praise at Thy burial, my Christ.
v2. – The Arimathean took Thee down from the tree and hast laid Thee in Thy tomb.
v3. – Anxiously the women carry myrrh and spices to lay before Thee, O my Christ.
Paschal Troparion – Byzantine & Znamenny Chant
The Paschal troparion for the Orthodox is the joyous, triumphant culmination of 40 days of intense prayer and fasting. Even if a culture borrows heavily from Russian or Greek or other musical traditions for their hymns, surely it will have its own melody for the “Christ is Risen.” This hymn is seen by many as the pinnacle of Eastern Christian spirituality: in dying, Christ has obliterated death and its powers of separation. It is sung extensively until the Feast of the Ascension of Christ on the 40th day after Pascha. Although there are many settings of the Troparion to choose from, tonight two of the most common are heard: the Greek melody, and a Russian melody arranged from Znamenny chant.
v1. – Let God arise! Let His enemies be scattered! [refrain]
v2. – Let them that hate Him flee from before His face! [refrain]
v3. – As smoke vanishes, so let them vanish as wax melts before the fire! [refrain]
v4. – So the sinners will perish before the face of God, but let the righteous be glad! [refrain]
v5. – This is the day which the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in it! [refrain]
v6. – Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages, amen. [refrain]
refrain: Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!
Bless the Lord, O My Soul * - Russian “Greek Chant”
Melodies labeled “Greek Chant” are a peculiar thing that pop up in Russian chant collections around the 17th century. The origins of this “Greek Chant” are debated among scholars, as the melodies certainly do not come from Greece, and are more in line with folk singing heard in the southern Slavic lands of the day. However, these melodies are found alive and well in our time, harmonized into 4-parts in Russian liturgical music. This “traditional” Russian melody has been made familiar to many western ears through Rachmaninoff’s use of it in his setting of the Vigil service. The text consists of select verses from Psalm 103 (104), the Psalm either sung in part or read in full at the beginning of every Vespers service in the Orthodox Church (Vespers being included in the first section of the Vigil service).
Bless the Lord, O my soul.
Blessed art Thou, O Lord.
O Lord my God, Thou hast been magnified exceedingly.
Blessed art Thou, O Lord!
Confession and majesty hast thou put on.
Blessed art Thou, O Lord!
Upon the mountains shall the waters stand.
Wondrous are Thy works, O Lord!
Between the mountains will the waters run.
Wondrous are Thy works, O Lord!
In wisdom hast Thou made them all.
Glory to Thee, O Lord, Who hast made them all!
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, Glory to Thee, O God!
The Silent Song + - Victoria Poleva (b1962)
Victoria Poleva (b1962),Kiev (Ukraine),graduated from the Kiev State P.I.Tchaikovsky Conservatoire (now National Music Academy of Ukraine) as a composer with Prof. Ivan Karabyts’ and completed post-graduate studies in 1995 under Prof. Levko Kolodub. As an award winning composer, her compositions have been performed at many festivals in the Ukraine, as well as the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, Kieve State Philharmonic Orchestra and the Neue Musik Zurich in Switzerland. ad;s Since 1990 she has been a lecturer of music in the Music Information Technologies’ Department at the National Music Academy of Ukraine. The Song of Silence (2008) is a setting of text written by Ukrainian composer Elena Chistaya, and dedicated to the memory of the late Ukrainian music critic Galina Mokreeva.
O God, the Quiet Light,
enlighten my soul with a silence,
sanctify my heart with a silence,
send an Angel to sing the song of a silence …
Most Pure Theotokos + – Victoria Poleva
Theotokos (Greek: Θεοτόκος, transliterated Theotókos) is the Greek title of Mary, the mother of Jesus used especially in the Orthodox theology. Its literal English translations include “God-bearer” and “the one who gives birth to God.” Poleva’s Most pure Theotokos is the third movement from her song cycle “Virgin’s Canticles”(2002) a setting of the canonical text from the Canon of repentance to our Lord Jesus Christ. The Canon of Repentance to Our Lord Jesus Christ, is an Orthodox hymn whose the text is sung in Church Slavonic and following the tradition of Russian sacred choral music, is sung a cappella.
Most pure Mother of God,
accept my unworthy prayer
and preserve me from sudden death;
and grant me repentance before my end.
Six Choruses - Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)
Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) is widely considered one of the finest pianists of his day and, as a composer, one of the last great representatives of Romanticism in Russian classical music. His early influences include that of Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, and other Russian composers which gave way to a thoroughly personal idiom that included a pronounced lyricism, expressive breadth, structural ingenuity, and a tonal palette of rich, distinctive orchestral colors. The piano is featured prominently in Rachmaninoff’s compositional output. He made a point of using his own skills as a performer to explore fully the expressive possibilities of the instrument. Even in his earliest works he revealed a sure grasp of idiomatic piano writing and a striking gift for melody. Such is the compositional writing of his Six Choruses (Op. 15), his first published choral work. Three years after graduating from the Moscow conservatory, Rachmaninoff took post at the Maryinksy Ladies School where he was inspired by his students and wrote these choruses for them. These songs are not a cycle, and use texts by 5 different poets, largely unknown to us (Lermontov, the author of 2, being the sole possible exception). Written in his early youth, the patriotism, morality, and compassion found in his works are echoed at the core of these choruses. Through its exquisite piano accompaniment and melancholy tinge these works vividly express deep emotions and illustrate poetic images of nature.
i. Glory to our People
Glory to our people, glory!
The fate of the people, their happiness, their peace and freedom come first!
In battles with enemies, peace and freedom are what our fathers have upheld for us.
We all, acting in love as a harmonious family
and strengthening the peace, shall advance the cause of freedom.
Glory to our people, glory! The cause of the people, their happiness,
Their peace and freedom come first!
Softly the dark-winged night wafts above the earth;
Somewhere a mournful song is heard, ringed with a teardrop.
Away with you, melancholy tune!
The dark night shall pass, and, arising,
the triumphant daytime shall bring people happiness!
The tired earth shall be refreshed after being spellbound with sleep,
and a crimson dawn shall glisten in the clear blue sky!
iii. The Pine Tree
In the wild north country a solitary pine tree stands upon a barren peak,
and it dreams, as it waves to and fro, clothed with powdery snow as with a robe.
And in its dreams it imagines that somewhere in a faraway desert,
in that land where the sun makes its rising, alone and in sadness,
upon a burning crag a beautiful palm tree grows.
iv. The Waves Are Slumbering
The waves are slumbering, the sky is clear, the moon shines,
the full moon floats above the azure waters.
As the silvery sea glistens, burning with a shimmer,
so will joy illumine sadness with its bright light.
“Why, O little nightingale, do you not eat your feed?
Why do you hang your head and sing no songs?”
“This nightingale sang in the wood glen in springtime,
but in this gilded cage I can only hang my head!
My dear one pines for me among the branches,
and my sweet children only moan; how can I sing?”
“The window is now open to your wood glen,
be happy, my little one, fly away swiftly!”
vi. The Angel
In the midnight sky an angel flew and sang a quiet song:
and the moon, and the stars, and the clouds all as one, attended to that holy song.
He sang of the blessedness of sinless spirits beneath the branches of Paradise’s gardens;
he sang of God Almighty, and his praise was without guile.
He carried in his bosom a young soul, destined for a world of sadness and tears.
And the sound of his song, though lacking the words, remained alive in that young soul.
A long time it suffered in the world, filled with a wondrous longing:
for it the sounds of the heavens could not be supplanted by the ordinary songs of earth.
+ Area Premiere
* World Premiere