Sheffield Cathedral will resound to the music of the Russian Orthodox Church on Saturday 28th March when Sheffield Oratorio Chorus performs Rachmaninov’s ‘Vespers’.
Described as his finest achievement, the Vespers are quite different to the Romantic style of the Rachmaninov piano concertos with which audiences will be more familiar. Combining austere chants with lush harmonies, the piece is a collection of settings of the Orthodox Church services of Vespers and Matins.
In a break from rehearsals Alan Eost, Musical Director of the Sheffield Oratorio Chorus described the choral challenges posed by the piece,
“Rachmaninov’s Vespers is a beautiful work, both ethereal and atmospheric. However, the piece does have its challenges for the choir, not least of which is the requirement for basses who can sing very low in their register. The choir has to sing entirely without accompaniment for all 15 movements, in as many as 11 parts. Fortunately, Rachmaninov approved an English version of his work which we will be using in this performance, so at least we haven’t had to learn Russian as well.
“The piece also allows for the use of smaller choral ensembles as well as the full chorus. Performing in Sheffield Cathedral allows us to move the singers around the space which will enhance the atmosphere and add a further dimension to the performance.
“We will be interspersing the choral sections with pieces on piano and organ by Russian and East European composers to make what will hopefully be a superb concert”
Fittingly the performance of Rachmaninov’s Vespers will be almost exactly one hundred years since it was first performed to huge acclaim in Moscow.
The performance takes place on Saturday 28th March at 7:30pm and tickets can be purchased in advance by clicking on this link – or from the Blue Moon Cafe, 2, St James’ Street S1 2EW or on the door.