Under the skillful direction of Daniel Abraham, associate professor in the Department of Performing Arts and director of choral activities at AU, the AU Chamber Choir performed a series of Russian, German and American works on Nov. 10 and 11.
The series precedes the group’s upcoming spring 2013 tour through Russia in May. The choir will forgo most major cities in favor of smaller, less well-known locations.
“Going off the beaten path was more interesting,” Abraham said.
Avoiding the larger cities in favor of more quaint accommodations would yield a far more culturally nourishing experience, Abraham said.
Acquiring a grant from the State Department, the choir will work with Russian youth conservatories and foster relations with the local Russian community in addition to singing.
The centerpiece of the program’s Nov. 10 and 11 performances was a selection of choral songs by Russian composer Georgy Sviridov, the 20th-century composer known for his film score to “The Blizzard” (1964), which contained intonations of Russian and low bass humming for the rendition of “Three Choruses from the Incidental Music to the Tragedy of A. K. Tolstoy’s ‘Czar Feodor Ioannovich.’”
Selecting Sviridov prompted an extensive search for sheet music, with Abraham searching as far as Finland to find proper sheet music transcriptions of the choral music. After the music was shipped to the U.S., he enlisted the help of AU graduate Angela MacDougall, School of International Service ‘13, to transcribe and translate the Cyrillic text.
Not as bombastic and nationalistic as Dmitri Shostakovich and not as experimental as Igor Stravinsky, Sviridov’s music is melodic, even at times containing hints of melancholy, as exhibited in performances of “Inexpressible Wonder” and “Having Witnessed a Wondrous Birth.”
Other pieces of interest were a series of American spirituals: “The Gift to Be Simple,” “Hark I Hear the Harps Eternal” and a sentimental rendition of “Oh Shenandoah.”
The AU Chamber Choir truly proved their strong ability through their evocation of mystic folksiness.