True Concord Voices & Orchestra has a way with Russian music.
Every time they put on a concert of works by Rachmaninoff or Tchaikovsky, fans fill nearly every seat for nearly every performance, and this weekend’s “Russian Masters” concert is following suit.
Most of the tickets for the group’s concert in Green Valley on Friday, March 24, are gone, and the three other performances are selling briskly, says True Concord Music Director Eric Holtan.
Why, you ask?
“The Russian choral music is wonderful,” Holtan explained. “It’s a long (tradition) that goes back to Tchaikovsky and beyond. It has a mysteriousness, a beauty and awe and wonder to it that has captivated our audiences in previous all-Russian programs.”
The cornerstone of this weekend’s concert — to be performed four times between Thursday, March 23, and Sunday, March 26 — is Alexander Gretchaninoff’s “Passion Week.” The work, composed in 1911 for the Russian Orthodox Church, leans more toward Wagner than the Russian nationalism of Gretechaninoff’s mentor and patron Rimsky-Korsakov. Based on texts from Orthodox Christian Church liturgies, the work recounts the passion of Christ, from his death on the cross to his resurrection, and is most often performed during the Easter season, usually the Saturday before the Orthodox Easter, Holtan said.
Holtan inserted a pair of Rachmaninoff’s Vespers and Tchaikovsky’s “Blessed Are They Whom Thou Hast Chosen” movement from the Russian composer’s “Nine Sacred Pieces” as a transition from Good Friday to Holy Saturday.
“Passion Week” was among the works by Russian composers that was banned by the government in 1917 following the Russian Revolution. It did not regain favor until the 1990s, and has since been performed regularly worldwide during the Easter season.
This is the final concert of True Concord’s 2016-17 season. During the concerts, the professional ensemble will unveil its 2017-18 season.