St. Petersburg Men’s Ensemble Concert

We sincerely hope that our program has allowed you to become more deeply familiar with Spiritual music, as well as to get acquainted with the unforgettable diversity of Russian folk songs in a variety of genres and periods.

Part One

1. Antonio Lotti (1667-1740) “Miserere”

“Have mercy upon me, O God, after Thy great goodness”

2. Maxim Berezovskiy (1745-1777) Choir Concert #18

Psalm 71:9 Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone… for my enemies speak against me; those who wait to kill me conspire together. They say, “God has forsaken him; pursue him and seize him, for no one will rescue him.”

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Do not be far from me, my God; come quickly, God, to help me. May my accusers perish in shame; may those who want to harm me be covered with scorn and disgrace. As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds, of your saving acts all day long— though I know not how to relate them all. I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord; I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone. Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.

3. Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612) “Cantate Domino”

Psalm 98 (Greek numbering: Psalm 97) is one of the psalms in the biblical Book of Psalms. One of the Royal Psalms, Psalm 9399, praising God as the King of His people.

4. Konstantin Shvedov (1859-1935) “Trisagion”

is a standard hymn of the Divine Liturgy in most of the Eastern Orthodox Churches, Oriental Orthodox Churches and Eastern Catholic Churches. The Trisagion prayer is an ancient prayer in Christianity. It may be that the prayer was originally an expansion of the angelic cry recorded in Revelation 4:8 (sometimes called the Sanctus). In English: Holy God, Holy Strong, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.

5. Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) “To Thee We Sing”

From Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, Op. 31

After the Holy Gifts have been offered, while the choir is singing “To Thee We Sing”, the transmutation of the Holy Gifts takes place. In this silent prayer the priest asks the Lord to send the Holy Spirit on him and on the offered Holy Gifts.

6. Philip P. Bliss (1838-1876) “It Is Well with My Soul”

7. Alexander Gretchaninov (1864-1956) Bless the Lord, O My Soul

The Antiphons, setting of the Psalms, were originally sung by antiphonal choirs. The first Antiphon is Psalm 103:1-6. Bless the Lord, O My Soul,.. who forgivesall your iniquity,.. and crowns you with mercy and loving kindness.

8. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) “Ave Verum”

is a motet in D major (K. 618), written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart for Anton Stoll, a friend of Mozart and Joseph Haydn. Stoll was the musical coordinator in the parish of Baden bei Wien, near Vienna. This setting of the Ave verum corpus text was composed to celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi; the autograph is dated 17 June 1791.

9. “Crusader Hymn” Selesian folk song, 1842 “Beautifull Savior”

10. Pavel Chesnokov (1877-1944) Arise, O God, judge the earth; for thou shalt reign forever. Christ, the new Pascha (Easter), the living Sacrifice, the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world. The Angel cried to the Lady full of Grace: Rejoice, O pure Virgin! Again, I say: Rejoice! Thy Son is risen from His three days in the tomb. With Himself He has raised all the dead. Rejoice, all ye people.

Part Two

Russian Folk Songs

1. The Tula Harmonica

Humorous song which tells about two brothers who came from the village into St. Petersburg to purchase boats. One bought a boat with a hole in it; the other purchased a boat with no bottom…

2. Wide is The Steppe

Oh you broad, Vast steppe! Oh you mother Volga, Volga so free! Ah, that is not an eagle Of the steppe rising; But a river barge hauler Feeling freedom. Don’t fly, eagle, Too near the earth; Don’t roam, barge hauler, Too close to the river bank. An allegorical hymn to the Volga, the steppe, and freedom. A barge-hauler serf has escaped to the vast steppe, but he can never return to his beloved river lest he be recaptured.

3. “I Will Go To The Valley”

“I will go to the wide valley, pick a wine grape; and flowers to weave a wreath. I’ll throw myself on the lad’s lap, gaze at him and ask him sweetly, ‘Do you love me? Do you not?’ ‘Love you maybe not,’ says he, ‘but gaze at you lovingly, yes.’”

4. Monotonously Rings the Little Bell”

The story of this song is tragic: In Siberia in 1852 they found a dead body of coachman who got frozen during a long road. There was a notebook with handwriting poems in his bag. Name of the author of the poems Ivan Makarov was not known during his life time. After a year since they were published the poems composer Alexander Gurilev) (1803 – 1858) wrote music for a poem what he liked the most.

5. The Broom

A tongue-twister about twig brooms (used for cleaning out stoves and chimneys) lying around on the tall tile stove and falling off.

6. The Volga Boatmen Song – “Yo, heave-ho!”

This is a well-known traditional Russian song collected by Mily Balakirev, and published in his book of folk songs

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in 1866. It is a genuine shanty sung by burlaki, or barge-haulers, on the Volga, Russia’s Mother-River. The burlaki are depicted in Ilya Repin’s famous painting, Barge Haulers on the Volga, which hangs in the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg.

7. Along the street, a snow storm sweeps

Behind the snowstorm my beloved walks: Stay, stay my beauty, Allow me to look, my happiness, on you!

8. “Moscow Nights”

“Moscow Nights” is a Russian song, one of those best known outside its homeland. The song was originally created as “Leningrad Nights” by composer Vasily Solovyov-Sedoi and poet Mikhail Matusovsky in 1955 (when both had well-established careers), but at the request of the Soviet Ministry of Culture, this song was transliterated as “Podmoskovnye Vechera”; more or less “Evenings in Moscow Oblast“) version was prepared with corresponding changes to the lyrics. In the Soviet Union, the tune became the time signal sounded every 30 minutes on the Mayak music and news radio station since 1964.

9. “Kalinka”

Kalinka (juniper) and malinka (raspberry) were the traditional offerings to a pre-Christian Slavic goddess of the earth, symbol of Spring, love and fertility, named Lyuli. As the traditional heavenly ally of the Russian agricultural population, but also of young people in love, Lyuli survived Christianization and is still alive in quite a lot of folksongs. Since most of these songs begin with a similar melody, they all might be derived from a common origin, maybe a very old hymn or a pagan ritual in honor of the goddess Lyuli.