he Blagovest Ensemble was established in 1987, with the initial core of
the group formed from an existing church choir. The Ensemble quickly gained
recognition both in Russia and abroad due to the uniqueness of its
repertoire and the quality of its performances. The singers owe their
success to a high standard professionalism and an excellence of liturgical
practice. For seventeen years, the Blagovest Ensemble created 60 programs
performed in more than 700 concerts.
alina Koltsova, the founder and precentor of the Ensemble, graduated from
the Gnesin Institute of Music where she studied choral conducting. For
twenty years now she has studied the foundations of Russian Orthodox
liturgical practice and the extensive repertoire of the most important
clerical schools of composers of XIX th and XX th centuries via the Sinodal
Choir (Moscow School) and the Court Choir (St.Petersburg School). She
has also managed to combine her activities as a precentor of the St.
Nicolos-Archangel church choir with her academic work with the Moscow Boys
he Blagovest Ensemble`s repertoir consists mainly of the works of Moscow
sacred music composers of XIX th and XX th centuries (A. Kastalsky, P.
Chesnokov, A. Grechaninov, V. Kalinnikov, A. Nikolsky, N. Cherepnin, and S.
Rachmaninov), as well as of a complete rendering of the liturgical and
night-service cycles and interpretations of the tunes of XI - XVI th
mong the most impressive performances of the Ensemble is the XVI th century
religious mystery The Blazing Furnace based on a Biblical story from The
Book of Daniel and arranged by A. Kastalsky. This work had not been staged
since 1911. In 1992, the Blagovest Ensemble restored it and, since then,
accomplished several its stagings.
esides the Russian Orthodox music the Ensemble performs ecumenical works of
the American expatriate Russian composer Grechaninov: the masses Et in
Terra Pax and Missa Festiva, a'capella motets in Latin, and sacred
Orthodox arias based on old Slavonic psalms accompanied by organ and chamber
ensemble. The Ensemble repertoire contains the N. Cherepnin`s apocriphic
cantata The Piligrimage of The Blessed Virgin Among Tormented Sinners
(Paris, 1943) which is performed jointly with the Bolshoi Theater soloists.
Side by side with the Russian Orthodox sacred music the Ensemble is
dedicated to the Western sacred music that is rarely played in Russia:
Palestrina, Monteverdi, Bukstehude, Skarlatti, Vivaldi, Cherubini, Schutz,
Bach Matthaus passion, Weihnachtsoratorium, Messa h-moll, Handel The
Massian, etc. For the first time in Russia, the Ensemble performed Schubert
's Magnificat and Stabat mater (Latin) as well as works of youthful
Mozart. In 1999, in the Big Hall of Moscow Conservatoire, the Ensemble
presented the world's premiere of the Schubert - Denisov opera Lazarus.
In St.Petersburg in 1993, the Gluck`s opera Orpheus and Euridica was
performed by Blagovest at the Hermitage Theater. The part of Orpheus was
played by Eric Kurmangaliev who possessed the rarest voice in the world,
eginning with 2001, an important role in the Blagovest repertoir is
played by the American music (Bernstein, Gershwin, spirituals) as well as
music for movies and musicles (Herman, Lloyd Webber, Vangelis, etc.).
The Ensemble has taken part in a number of important musical events such as
five International Sacred Music Festivals in Moscow, and Festivals in Minsk,
Tallinn, Odessa, Vladimir, Wroclaw (Poland), Lahti (Finland). The Ensemble
was enthusiastically received in the concert halls of Vienna, Munich, and
cities in Finland, Poland, and Greece.
he Ensemble's project Orthodox Moscow had been approved by the Moscow
Government as a part of celebration of the 850 th anniversary of Moscow.
Concerts have been given in Kremlin and the Big Hall of Moscow
Conservatoire. This project and the project Anthology of The Russian Sacred
Music were supported by grants of the Soros foundation.
he Ensemble is constantly extending the range of its activity. In 1989 it
took part for the first time in the festive mass in the main cathedral of
Salzburg, singing the Russian sacred music during the Archbishop`s Service
on St. Rupert`s Day (St. Rupert is the saint patron of Salzburg).
n 1997 the Blagovest Ensemble jointly with the Imperial Russian Ballet of
Gediminas Taranda and Maya Plisetskaya gave concerts in Finland (Mikkeli).
The Ensemble took part in 14 ballet performances including the Polovetsian
Dances from the Borodin`s Prince Igor, the Ball with Maya Plisetskaya,
and various folk programs.
n 1995 the Ensemble represented Russia at the celebration of the 1900 th
anniversary of the Revelation of St. John Divine in the island of Patmos
(Greece). In 1997 Blagovest gave concerts in Salonika, the city chosen by
UNESCO as the world`s cultural capital. The Blagovest Ensemble
participated in the cultural program of the 2003 Olympic Games held in
he Ensemble cooperated with outstanding musicians and soloists: Saulus
Sondetskis, Vladimir Pon'kin, Igor Golovchin, Sergei Stadler, Irina
Arhipova, Makvala Kasraschvili, Natalia Erasova, Olga Lutsiv-Ternovskaya,
Dmitri Stepanovich, Mikhail Krutikov, Oleg Yanchenko, Dmitri Volosnikov, and
the famous artist of theatrical costume Alla Kozhenkova.
lose creative contacts connect the Blagovest Ensemble with the composer
Anton Viskov. Many pieces of his have been composed for this Ensemble. A
knowledge of the specific character of the Ensemble allowed A. Viskov to
create and implement such unique musical projects as the sacred oratorio
according to the sketches of I. Stravinsky and M. Musorgsky for the opera
Hovanschina, the oratorio Christians (musical pictures of the ancient
christian services), the choral concert Christmas, numerous compositions
to sacred texts, treatments of pieces of the Russian and West European
classics, treatments of songs of the peoples of the world, musical and
historical restorations and instrumentations.
he season of 2003-2004 was marked by a performance of new programs. After a
more than 20-years interval, the Haydn oratorio The Seasons was performed
in the Big Hall of Moscow Conservatoire, directed by the Italian maestro
n St. Peterburg, the opera by the Russian composer V. Agafonnikov Li Sun
Sin was staged after the libretto of Kim Tak Hvan and Bek Ki Hen at the
festival theater The Baltic House. Soloists from the Bolshoi Theater, the
New Opera theater, and the Blagovest Ensemble took part in the
performance together with the Korean opera company SEONGGOK, the
Blagovest chorus, and The State Hermitage Orchestra directed by S.
Sondetskis. The general musical director and conductor of the performance
was Dmitri Volosnikov, producer Alexander Feodorov, the chorus maestro
Galina Koltsova, and the ballet master Che Gong Suk. The opera is the first
in history joint work of Russia and South Korea in this genre. In 2004,
three performances of it are planned to be given in South Korea.
n 2003 and 2004, the Ensemble received grants of the Moscow Government for
two musical theatrical performances. One of them, The Christmas Holiday, a
choral mystery with a puppet show and children's professional theater
according to the music of A. Viskov has already been staged at the
Stanislavsky Drama Theater. The other one is a new version of The Blazing
Furnace. This is supposed to be a scientific, historical, and artistic
reconstruction with scenery and costumes from the depositories of the State
Historical Museum. The Vasnetsov cartoons will be used as well.
he Blagovest Ensemble recorded compact disks on various international
labels including Vist (Russian-American), Lad (Russian-English),
Russian Season (Russian-French), Multisonic (Czechoslovakian), Daniel
C.C. Cho (South Korean). The Blagovest took part in recording a compact
disk for the European Conference on Sacred Music and Christian Culture held
in Vatican in May 1993. In 1995, Blagovest recorded with Cantica
(Germany) two compact disks of complete sacred works of N.A.
Rimsky-Korsakov, this being a world`s premiere. In 2000, the Bel Air Music
(Monaco) recorded with a participation of the Blagovest Ensemble the
compact disk The Russian Sacred Music which included sacred concerts of
Bortnyansky, P. Chesnokov, Musorgsky, and Arkhangelsky.