RUSSIAN VOCAL ENSEMBLE PERFORMS AT ST. LUKE'S CHURCH IN SEA CLIFF
October 21 -- On Sunday evening, four members of the Russian vocal ensemble Lyra visited St. Luke's Church in Sea Cliff, for what has become an annual event, to perform Sacred Chants of the Russian Orthodox Church and traditional Russian (and one Belorussian) folk songs.
Lyra is a community of professional musicians most of whom are students or graduates of the St. Petersburg Conservatory. The group's brochure states that its mission is to "explore and popularize Russian choral music from the ancient songs of the Orthodox Church to works of little-known, but remarkable composers of the 18th to 20th centuries." During last night's performance, tenor Sergey Tupitsyn, who is also the group's manager, explained that the name Lyra has a double meaning - it is both for the ancient Greek stringed instrument (lyre) with which many are familiar, and the Russian word for "inspiration." Because of cost and logistical issues, the 20 member ensemble travels in smaller groups of four or five members.
In addition to Mr. Tupitsyn, last night's performers included soprano Ann Makarenko, mezzo-soprano Anna Naumova, and bass Alexandr Kudriashov. In between pieces, Mr. Tupitsyn put the music in a historical and cultural context. He explained that because one would not find musical instruments in Eastern Orthodox Church services, with the exception of many American Greek Orthodox Churches, all singing is done a cappella.
During last night's first set, the ensemble, wearing formal attire, performed Sacred Chants of the Russian Orthodox Church. After a short intermission, the quartet returned to the sanctuary in traditional Russian wardrobes, and in addition to singing traditional Russian folk songs, incorporated a bit of acting and dancing into the performance.
Last evening's performance was the last of 40 in a six-week concert tour of 8 states in New England and the Mid-Atlantic region.