This Sunday, in addition to Arvo Pärt’s “The Beatitudes,” the choir will also be singing “Cherubic Hymn No. 7” by Dmitri Bortniansky (1751-1825).
You might be surprised to learn that there are well over a dozen Russian anthems in the choral library, and that was a result of Carl’s trip to Russia in 1997. He was invited to sing with the Compline Choir of Seattle (founded by Peter Hallock 54 years ago) on their tour to St. Petersburg, a sister city of Seattle. In fact, the Seattle Compline Choir was to have sung at the re-dedication of the Lutheran Church of St. Peter and Paul in St. Petersburg, the church that had been turned into a swimming pool during the Soviet years. Alas, the construction was not quite finished, so the rededication didn’t happen then.
On the tour, the Seattle Compline Choir not only sang, but also heard many Russian choirs, who have the experience of singing services every single day! Carl says that the choirs are situated behind a screen, and so he was always surprised to see that the huge choral sound was made by only a handful of people. He was especially impressed with the low notes from the basses — it must be all the cigarettes and vodka!
Ever since Russian music has been added to the repertory, we have been very fortunate to have had experts in the choir to coach us on the Slavonic pronunciation. Currently David Del Rocco fills that role, and formerly we had Kate Lingley and Johannes Bendtz.