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 Chorus.

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 centuries.

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, alto.

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 Greece.

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 Riccardo Capasso.

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.


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