State Academic Cappella of Saint Petersbourg



In 2003 St.Petersburg will turn 300, and the State Academic Cappella will also celebrate its tercentenary. State Academic Cappella of St Petersburg occupies a special place in the history of Russian culture. Being of the same age as St Petersburg, having shared its establishment and its peak with its city, the Cappella became the place of birth and formation of the Russian professional art. Being an organic synthesis of the Choir, Symphony orchestra, educational institution and Concert hall with great acoustics and historical organ, the Cappella became a unique phenomenon in the world practice. The Choir of the State Academic Cappella which is conducted by Peoples artist of the Russia, laureate of Russia state prizes Vladislav Chernshenko rightfully enjoys world fame. The high level of mastery and diverse repertoire allow the Singing Cappella to successfully realize their extremely rich creative resources and artistic designs. Symphony Orchestra directed by Alexander Chernushenko is leading active creative life. It performs not only for the demanding audience of St Petersburg but also abroad, cooperates with outstanding instrumentalists and conductors of our time. Annually in the Cappella International music festivals are conducted, many of which became traditional: Organ Music Festival, The Neva Choir Assemblies, Schubert Festival, S. V. Rakhmaninov Festival.


When the Choir of the State Cappella of St. Petersburg is named Choir No. 1 in Russia it is meant not only for the highest degree of professional brilliance and prestigious name. The history of this Choir goes back to more than 500 years: it was the first ever-professional musical group in the country. Founded in 1479 by czar Ivan III as The Choir of Czar's Singing Clerks up to the beginning of the 18"' century it stayed in Moscow. During the years of Peter the Great the singers were never too far from the czar who was nothing lath to join them himself. In 1703 the Choir was renamed then as Court Choir, took part in the solemnities held for the foundation of St. Petersburg. After the capital of the Russian Empire had been moved to the banks of Neva river all the subsequent history of the Choir has been tied with the , as St. Petersburg is often called . Here it remained ever since .
Outstanding musicians had been working to perfect the professional mastership of the Main Choir of Russia. The list is opened by famous Venecian master Baldessare Galuppi, succeeded by Tommaso Traetta, Giovanni Paisiello, and Giuseppe Sarti. Famous Italians were then followed by a series of distinguished Russians: Dmitry Bortnyansky , Alexei Lvov , Mikhail Glinka , Mily Balakirev , Nikolai Rimsky - Korsakov , Antony Arensky, Mikhail Klimov and others. Everyone of them made his contribution to make the Choir one of the best in Europe as it was then recognized, for the listeners could not but feel delighted invariably.
The renaissance of the world - wide reputation of the Choir , diminished in the 1960s is attributed to Vladislav Chernushenko who came to lead it in 1974. Awarded the honored title" Peoples artist of Russia", laureate of Russia state prizes , Chernushenko was born in 1936. Initial musical education he got at the Choir school of the State Cappella. The outstanding choral conductor Pallady Bogdanov was among his teachers. Famous conductors, such as Ilya Musin, Evgeny Mravinsky, and Nikolay Rabinovich were his educators at the Leningrad Conservatory.
Creative interests of Chernushenko include a variety of masterpieces of Russian and European classical music, as well as the works of Soviet and contemporary Russian composers. Very often he was the to perform the pieces. Chernushenko goes oftentimes back to forgotten or less known pieces of Russian music, revives them from oblivion, thus enriching the repertoire with many a beautiful example of musical art performed at various times during the glorious, more than 500 - year long, history of the Choir.
The art of Chernushenko perpetuates the best traditions of St. Petersburg musical school . Respect for the original authors texts, laconicism and void of outward effects intrinsic to his conducting style, appealing not to the ear but to the heart of the audience are the main features of Maestro Chernushenkos artistic turn of expression. Domestic and foreign tours of the famous St. Petersburg choir are numerous and successful, and the performances bring out the feeling of delight in both Russian and foreign listeners.


The Cappella's Concert Hall

The Cappella building on the river Moika acquired its present appearance after the reconstruction of 1886-1889 carried out by the architect Leonty Benois (1856-1928). The architecture of Cappella is centred round its Concert Hall. Concerts of choral, organ, simphony and chamber music take place hear. The Hall of the Cappella was built in 1889 by Leonty Benois on the place of a small concert hall. Undoubtedly, the Hall became a major success of the architect, speaking not only of its decoration but also of its acoustics properties. The Hall of the Cappella won the reputation of an excellent, and, according to some opinions, ideal one, in terms of acoustics. The Hall's decoration, up to the upholstery of the beech chairs was carefully planned by the architect and personally controlled by him. The decoration of the Concert Hall, the main staircase, the first floor foyer came down to our time without any significant changes. The Cappella's Concert Hall rightly enjoys world respect. During the hundred years of its existence the Hall contributed a lot to the glorification of the Russian art. Immortal pieces of Tchaikovsky, Rakhmaninov, Borodin, Musorgsky, Glasunov, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Sviridov were played here... In this Hall many generations of Petersburgers touched upon the world of beauty, discovered for themselves the music of Bach, Beethoven, Haydn, Hendel, Wagner, Berlioz, Stravinsky... The best musicians of the world performed in the Cappella's Concert Hall. The aura of the Hall is filled with kindness and light.
The Cappella organ
In 1927 the organ was installed in Cappella Hall. The instrument was moved from the Dutch Reformed Church (located on Nevsky, 20) and it perfectly fitted the interior and acoustics of the Hall. Built in 1891 by «E. F. WALCKER", The organ was installed in the area allocated for it by the architect. In 1928 the instrument received a safety certificate issued by the People's Commissariat of Education of the Russian Federation as an instrument of museum value. The Cappella organ is known all over the world. The leading musicians consider it to be a great honour to perform on its stage. Among them there were organists from Germany, France, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Finland, Canada, Sweden, Great Britain, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Argentina, the USA, Japan and other countries. Various schools, styles, trends and mastery levels have been represented here. Among outstanding national organists to have performed in the Cappella Hall one can name I. Braudo, L. Roisman, N. Oksentian, S. Dizhur, O. Yanchenko and others.
The Singing Cappella
The Singing Cappella of St Petersburg stated its history in 1479 when on the order of the Great Prince Ivan III a choir of the Czar's singing deacons was organized in Moscow which became the first in Russia professional choir and the cradle of Russian choral art. In 1703 the choir was moved to the new capital of the Russian Empire where it participated in the festivities dedicated to the foundation of St Petersburg by Peter the Great. Since that time its has been performing in that city. The creative image of the Cappella has always been defined by the outstanding musicians: M. F. Poltoratsky, M. Berezovsky, D. S. Bortniansky, M. I. Glinka, A. F. Lvov, G. Y. Lomakin, M. A. Balakirev, N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov, M. S. Liapunov. A. S. Arensky, M. G. Klimov, V. Sveshnikov, G. A. Dmitrevsky, A. I. Anisimov, E. P. Kudriavtseva, F. M. Kozlov, V. A. Chernushenko. Generations of the best Russian choirs were brought up and continue to be brought up on the high traditions of the Cappella. A. V. Aleksandrov, V. A. Dranichnikov. A. G. Fliarkovsky, A. S. Dmitriev, A. A. Yurlov, D. G. Kitaenko, V. A. Atlantov and many, many others received musical education at the Choir school of the State Cappella.
The last twenty years of the Singing Cappella's life were marked by the new rise of the performance mastery and concerts. In 1974 V. A . Chernushenko became the Artistic Director and the Chief Conductor of the Cappella. Being the Cappella's graduate he came back as a high class professional to raise the Cappella choir to the new step on "the staircase of time" with his talent, his passionate creative fire. First of all a most valuable layer of the Russian culture is returned to the repertoire, Russian spiritual music. One could again hear Tchaikovsky's THE LITURGY and NOCTURNAL , choir pieces of Berezovsky, Bortniansky, Arkhangelsky, Chesnokov. For the first time in two centuries the church psalms of the XV-XVII centuries were performed. The beauty and the richness of the Russian singing culture are demonstrated by the part concerts of the XVII-XVIII centuries, the chants of Peter's time, choir arrangements of Russian folk songs. With the restoration of the Cappella's Symphony orchestra activity in 1991 in the city's posters more and more often the names of large symphony and choir pieces started to appear, such as THE REQUIEM and THE BIG MASS by Mozart, THE MAGNIFICATE and MASS H moll by Bach, SYMPHONY ? 9 by Beethoven, THE REQUIEM by Verdi, Cantatas MOSCOW by Tchaikovsky and JOHN DAMASKIN by Taneev, concert performance of the operas ALEKO by Rakhmaninov, VIRINEA by Slonimsky and many other pieces. The high mastery, the diverse repertoire allow the Singing Cappella to tour a lot. In just the last years their tours took them to all European countries. Today the Choir of the State Academic Cappella of St Petersburg is one of the best in the world, lives a busy creative life, realizing their rich creative resources to the maximum, confidently implementing their artistic plans.
Symphony Orchestra of the State Academic Cappella of St Petersburg

The historic roots of the Symphony Orchestra of the State Academic Cappella of St Petersburg are connected with the history of the Cappella in general. Being a unique synthesis of the centers of musical performance and education the Cappella influenced the formation of all the forms of Russian musical culture including instrumental performing and orchestra ones. An important page in the history of the Cappella is occupied by "instrumental classes" that were functioning in 1834-36, 1838-45, 1855-1917 and trained soloists and orchestra players in various specialties. The "classes" reached their peak under M. A. Balakirev and N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov, who in 1882 organized a symphony orchestra of the Cappella. The public concerts were a great success. After the long historical pause the activity of the symphony orchestra was resumed. At the source of the orchestra's revival stood the Artistic Director of the Cappella Vladislav Aleksandrovich Chernushenko and his son Alexander who became the leader of the orchestra. Soon the orchestra won respect by its high professional level and active creative life. Performing Russian classics and revival of forgotten pieces is one of the leading directions in the concert programs of the orchestra. But foreign classics, modern composers' music also take an important place in the orchestra's repertoire. Modern Russian composers trust to the orchestra the fate of the first performance of their music. A thoughtfully selected repertoire allows diverse training of young orchestra players who are the majority in the Cappella's Orchestra. Concern about the training of highly professional Russian musicians was one of the main aspects of the work of the Cappella during all the years of its existence. The Cappella's Symphony Orchestra conducted by Alexander Chernushenko performs not only for the demanding citizens of St Petersburg but also tours abroad. The Cappella's Orchestra organized the International Conductors' contest named after Prokofiev (1992, 1996. 1999), the youth contest named after P. I. Tchaikovsky (1997). It participated in international festivals LA CHAISE DIEU in France (1993, 1995), Schubert Festival in Schnakenburg, (Germany, 1996-1997), Schubert Festival in St Petersburg (1997, 1999), SIMPLY FRIENDS.