The Orthodox Singers Male Choir, directed by G. Smirnov has been founded in 1992. The best singers of Moscow churches and monasteries are invited here for taking part at the festive divine services and concerts.
The roots of Russian male choral singing can be found at the ancient tradition of the sacristan singers of the XVI-XVII centuries. They say that one of the first Russian choral works were composed by Tsar Ivan the Terrible (1530-1584), who being a great admirer of church singing, had founded one of the first Russian choirs named the State Sacristan Singers.
Occurrence of the Choir combining church service and public concerts, became possible when it began to be perceived in a society not only as members of the clergy taking part in divine worship, but also as the remarkable instrument capable to give new sounding to the musical works of the secular and church authors.
The Orthodox Singers Male Choir has a broad repertoire, which includes:
The Christmas Program;
The Easter (Paschal) church chanting;
Special programmes containing the very first works of Russian church singing -‘Liturgical Music of the 17th Century’ (manuscript of monody and early Russian singing for two or three voices deciphered by contemporary musicologist);
Chants from the world-famous Orthodox monasteries such as the Monastery of the Caves in Kiev, the Monastery of the Holy Trinity and St. Sergius, the hermitages of Optina and Zossima, the Moscow Kremlin and others;
Russian part-singing from the works of Vasily Titov (c. 1650-1710), Baldassare Galuppi (1706-1785), Dmitry Bortnyansky (1751-1825), Artemy Vedel (1767-1808), Stepan Davydov (1777-1825), etc.;
Works of the representatives of Moscow Composers’ School: Alexander Kastalsky (1856-1926), Alexander Grechaninov (1864-1956), Viktor Kalinnikov (1870-1927), Pavel Chesnokov (1877-1944), Konstantin Shvedov (1886-1954), etc.;
Some works of one of the most talented representatives of St. Petersburg Choir Composers’ School - Alexander Arkhangelsky (1846-1924);
An anthology of church choral works of the XVII - XX centuries;
Ancient chants, singing at the contemporary tradition of Moscow monasteries;
Orthodox Wedding Ceremonies;
Liturgical music of Orthodox clergy;
Works for solo voice accompanied by Choir and many others.
Since the very first public performances Choir, directed by G. Smirnov immediately has drawn the attention of listeners and music critics through its high professional skill, restraint, severity of sound reproduction and its special aura of spirituality. Currently the Orthodox Singers Male Choir is one of the best choirs in Russia, as testified by its constant success in concert halls all over the world and the magnificent reviews of the Russian and foreign press.
The choir is being actively invited for giving concerts worldwide.
It always has a great success during the International Festivals of Spiritual Music in Moscow and at the Archdeacon Konstantin Rozov’s International Festival of Diaconal Art. Not long ago this Choir had a few series of concert at the International Spiritual Music Festival in Marktoberhoff (Germany), at the famous Riga’s Dome Cathedral, other best Concert Halls of Latvia, Belgium, Norway and some other countries. The Boston International Festival dedicated to the 200th anniversary of the Orthodox Church in America, the concert “World without Landmines” in Geneva (under the patronage of Princess Diana) also invited this remarkable Choir to take part at their work.
The most famous Russian vocalists such as: Peoples’ Artists of the USSR Irina Arkhipova, Artur Eizen, Alexander Vedernikov and many others - are permanently collaborating with the Choir and taking part at these concerts.
The precentor G. Smirnov is collaborating with Irina Arkhipova since 1992, when the Choir first began its creative activity. The result of this collaboration was not only the recording of a double CD Album of the Choir together with this great singer. There were also a numerous joint tours across Russia and abroad and participation at the most important Charity events, including the ‘Stars in the Kremlin’ concert and others.
George Smirnov (b.1960), a professional choirmaster and precentor has been graduated with the first-class honours degree from the Gnesins’ State Musical College (1980) and the Moscow State Conservatoire (1985) upon completing his research on the history of the musical choral cycle of the Orthodox Liturgy.
Before he has founded the Orthodox Singers Male Choir, G. Smirnov was working for some time as a precentor at the several churches and as a choirmaster of some Moscow professional choirs, including the male choir of the Publishing Department of the Moscow Patriarchate and at the St. Daniel of Moscow Monastery. He also studied History of Russian ecclesiastical singing and published a number of collections of Russian church music. In 1989, G. Smirnov has edited and produced Rachmaninov’s “All-Night Vigil”, working as an editor of the “Music” publishing house. This was one of the very first publications of Russian church music after seventy years of neglect.