Rachmaninoff Vespers concert marks church’s anniversary

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LEWISTON — The Rachmaninoff Choir will be performing a benefit concert at the Franco-American Center in Lewiston at 7:30 p.m., Friday, April 9, to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church.

The choir will sing a famous piece of sacred music, Rachmaninoff’s Vespers, a concert work in 15 parts written by the composer in 1915 during a period of great trouble in Russia. Many of melodies in the Vespers are of Greek and Byzantine origin and date back to the ninth Century when Russia was converted to Orthodoxy. Rachmaninoff added folk tunes from the Russian oral tradition to give the music an unmistakable Russian sound. 

The Rachmaninoff Choir combines members of the Bowdoin College Chorus in Brunswick, community members in coastal Maine who are part of Down East Singers in Rockport, and singers from the Boston area.

The choir was formed in 1992 by Dr. Anthony Antolini, who teaches music at Bowdoin. The ensemble’s specialty is Russian Orthodox choral music and the choral music of the USA. Depending on the concert, the group numbers between 60 and 80 singers. The choir has performed all over Maine, as well as in Boston, New Haven, St. Partrick’s Cathedral in New York City, Montreal (Canada) and The National Cathedral in D.C. It has also performed at many Greek Orthodox Churches in New England.

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In 2002, the Rachmaninoff Choir toured Russia and sang the Rachmaninoff composition of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. Concerts took place in Novosibirsk, Irkutsk, Khabarovsk, and St. Petersburg. In 2009, the ensemble sang the same piece of music on tour in Serbia, Bulgaria, and Greece, with concerts in Beograd, Sofia, Thessaloniki, Lesvos, and Athens. 

The Lewiston concert is part of the choir’s spring tour. The Rachmaninoff Vespers will be performed as a whole piece (15 parts) with no intermission. The performance will last about an hour and fifteen minutes. A reception will follow the performance hosted by the Ladies Society of Holy Trinity. 

Tickets are $18, and  may be purchased from Church members and by calling the box office at the Franco-American Heritage Center, 689-2000. FAX 689-2355.

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