Rachmaninoff: The Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, op. 31
St. Paul’s Community of Faith, 1600 Grant Street, Denver
St. John’s Episcopal Church, 1419 Pine Street, Boulder
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Join us for a remarkable journey into the gorgeous, contemplative music of Sergei Rachmaninoff. Composed five years before his famous Vespers, Rachmaninoff’s Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom stands as his “other” major work for unaccompanied voices. Where the Vespers is based on standard chants of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Liturgy (op. 31) is entirely original. The music follows the Church’s dictates that required a straightforward presentation of the text for maximum intelligibility, and the avoidance of polyphony. Within these narrow confines, Rachmaninoff’s genius shines: the music is by turns serene, haunting, and magnificent, with flowing melodies; rich, reverberant bass lines; and gorgeous, unforgettable harmonies. Composed in about three weeks during the summer of 1910 when Rachmaninoff was 37 years old, the Liturgy was premiered by the fabulous Moscow Synodal Choir (arguably one of the most capable choral ensembles in the world at the time, composed of 50 men and 30 boys) on November 25, 1910. Rachmaninoff himself conducted two further performances of the work in 1911 and 1914; there are no other documented performances of the work in the first half of the century. Rachmaninoff fled Russia in 1917 never to return, and he never heard another performance of the complete Liturgy. Join us to hear this moving choral masterpiece!