Hymns of the Divine Liturgy
Sacred music by Nikolai Kedroff (Sr) (1871-1940)
Australian Russian Orthodox Chamber Choir, directed by Andrei Laptev
Nikolai Kedroff Sr was born in 1871 in St. Petersburg into the family of a Russian Orthodox archpriest. In 1897 he completed vocal studies at the St. Petersburg Conservatory which led to a career as an operatic baritone soloist with principal roles in productions in Moscow and St. Petersburg, including the Bolshoi and the Mariinsky Theatres.
The hymns of this recording are the greater part of Nikolai Kedroff ’s published hymn settings for the Divine Liturgy.
Kedroff came to liturgical composition later in his musical career and displays a clear affinity with the compositions of the era broadly described as the “Moscow School”- roughly from the 1890s to the 1917 revolution. This direction in Russian sacred music was strongly influenced by the melody and modes of the old Russian church chants, and was the greatest flowering of Russian Orthodox musical composition since the transition from unison chant in the 17th century.
The choral forces required for the hymns in this recording vary from smaller four-part choirs typical of most Russian Orthodox choirs outside Russia, to music requiring larger choral orchestration, displaying greater melodic, harmonic and textural complexity. In these larger works there are similarities to the Moscow-School masters Alexander Kastalsky, Alexander Gretchaninov and Viktor Kalinnikov in the chant-like melodies and an epic, confident harmonic language.
The Australian Russian Orthodox Chamber Choir comes together as a combination of choristers from various Russian Orthodox parishes around Australia and singers who share a love of Orthodox liturgical music. The aim of the ensemble is to perform rare musical treasures of the Russian Orthodox tradition, with a special focus on Russian émigré composers of the twentieth century.
In 2014 and 2016, in its former incarnation as the “Australian Diocese Choir”, the ensemble was twice judged first-place in its section at the International Festival of Orthodox Music in Bialystok, Poland. The choir was commended for its balanced sound and unique choice of repertoire. For the festival in May 2016 the choir commissioned a new composition “Ektenia” by the Australian Orthodox composer Anastasia Pahos. Their 2016 tour saw the choir perform at the church of St Germain Des Pres, Paris before returning to Australia.
This recording is hopefully the first of many for the Australian Russian Orthodox Chamber Choir with the support of the Liturgical Music Committee of the Australian and New Zealand Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. It hopes to continue to explore the legacy of its revered forebears who passed on a love for liturgical choral singing and to constantly raise its level of artistry and commitment to the liturgical musical arts possessed by the singers.