Come celebrate our 5th anniversary as a choral ensemble when the Washington Master Chorale marks the 100th Anniversary of the world premiere of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s All Night Vigil, Op. 37. The Chorale will perform this 65-minute spiritual and luminous work without intermission.
All Night Vigil, also known as the Vespers, was composed over a two-week period in January and February 1915. It was premiered on March 10, 1915 and performed by the all-male Moscow Synodal Choir under the baton of Nicolai Danilin. The All Night Vigil is a liturgical concatenation of Vespers, Matins and First Hour sung for the nightlong vigils held in monasteries on the eve of holy days in the Russian Orthodox Church. Influenced by Tchaikovsky whose own All Night Vigil, Op. 52 was published in 1882, nine movements of Rachmaninoff’s Vigil are based on traditional chant melodies, with the remaining six, in the words of the composer, a free form “conscious counterfeit of the ritual” (Bertensson, Leyda, 1956). The Vigil is written only for voices given the Russian Orthodox Church’s prohibition on instruments in church services. Years after the premiere, Rachmaninoff reminisced about the first time he played the piece for Alexander Kastaly, director of the Moscow Synodal School and Danilin: “There is a passage sung by the basses—a scale descending to the lowest B flat in a very slow pianissimo. As I played this passage, Danilin shook his head and said, ‘Where are we going to find such basses? They are as rare as asparagus at Christmas!’ Of course, he did find them. I knew the voices of my countrymen and well knew what demands I could make of Russian basses.” (Bertensson, Leyda, 1956)
You will not want to miss hearing this choral masterpiece in two of the best acoustical settings in Washington, The National Presbyterian Church (March 8) and The Church of the Epiphany (March 15). On March 8, at 3pm, a pre-concert conversation will take place between Maestro Colohan and Peter Jermihov, an internationally recognized specialist in Russian music and Orthodox liturgical music.
The National Presbyterian Church
4101 Nebraska Ave NW
Church of the Epiphany
1317 G St. NW
Washington, DC 20005