Anchorage’s choral music fans are in for another delectable audio-visual treat, a new series of concerts by our local Russian American Colony Singers and guest performers. Audience members will enjoy selections from two operas: “Porgy and Bess”, written by George Gershwin, and “Prince Igor”, by Alexander Borodin.
What these two choral masterpieces have in common is that they draw on folk singing traditions. Gershwin’s work has been called “a piece of Americana”.
The story line is based on a novel, and Gershwin attempted to represent many types of folk songs in the opera: jubilees, blues, songs of prayer , street cries, work songs, and spirituals are blended with traditional arias and recitatives. The Russian opera, “Prince Igor”, is based on an ancient Slavic epic narrative, and includes lovely melodies, some of which are based on folk songs. The scope of this concert is ambitious: it will attempt to express the depth and breadth of vocal tradition from two great countries, and to demonstrate that the language of the soul is universal, dissolving all borders.
The Russian American Colony Singers (RACS) directed by Pavel Sharomov rehearse and perform choral literature with a unique emphasis on Russian music in various idioms, folk, classical, and religious. Half or more of the singers are of Russian background with training in various aspects of vocal music. This repertoire is unique in American choral life, since many conductors do not have the skill and interest to take on music performed in Russian or other languages in the Russian language family
Tickets are $16.25 at Center Tix and at the door.
By Marlene Bateman
For this program consisting largely of operatic repertoire, RACS fortified their ranks with guest singers from the Anchorage singing community, many of whom sing with the Anchorage Opera Chorus and the Anchorage Concert Chorus. RACS was well rehearsed and dramatic in their presentations. Especially delightful was their treatment of dynamics, from subtle pianissimos to powerful fortes under the direction of Maestro Pavel Sharomov.
RACS also presented a visiting Russian group, The Sharomov Vocal Ensemble which might be described as Manhattan Transfer meets Chanticleer—a group of five masterful a cappella singers who perform jazz and Russian baroque equally well. This guest group delighted the audience with several Spirituals and Russian Folk Songs. Olga Osipova, of the ensemble, merits special mention for her spellbinding rendition of “Give Me Jesus.”
Other soloistic highlights, too many to review in detail, include those of Pavel Sharomov, Elena Zabarskaya, Lyudmila Tyukhaeva, Alexander Zverev (all members of the Sharomov Vocal Ensemble) and those of Anchorage favorites Anastasia Jamieson, Tim Fosket, Jan Whitefield, Martin Eldred, and Ron Flugum. Anastasia Jamieson’s lush, gorgeous soprano was particularly showcased in Yaroslavna’s Aria from Prince Igor.
Not only was the music engaging and entertaining. RACS matched their diverse repertoire with ornate Russian traditional costuming in the first half of the program, and glittering concert dress for the second half. The group culminated their program by bringing all the soloistic and ensemble musical forces of the evening together and adding a dance troupe for a rousing and colorful choreographed performance of the Polovetsian Dance and Chorus.
Guest Dance Group.
Alexander Zverev (left) and Tim Fosket.
Soul Food: from Folk to Opera. RACS performance.
MC and Interpreter Marina Balashova-Bell.
Pavel Sharomov, RACS Conductor
Guest Dance Group.
Guest Dance Group.
RACS - Russian American Colony Singers