It was with great pleasure that we welcomed the Male Voice Choir of Voronezh, Russia, last weekend when they joined us in a concert in the Oxfordshire village of Chadlington.
Phoenix has had a long association with Vorenzh, first hosting the university choir in 1989. We then made a return visit to Russia in Easter 1990, performing in Moscow, St Petersburg and Voronezh, the most memorable concert being in the latter’s opera house where we had a two thousand strong standing ovation.
A number of us had kept in close contact with our Russian friends resulting in the visit of last week. They were here to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Russian Orthodox Church in the UK and to remember the life of Anthony of Sourozh They started the week in Winchester with performances in Gosport, Portsmouth, Oxford and London. The last three days were spent with us.
A joint concert in Chadlington, Oxfordshire, featured both choirs singing Bogoroditze Devo from Rachmaninoff’s Vespers and a John Rutter arrangement of Down By the Riverside. The powerful male voice sound, including a bass Octavist who could sing an octave lower than your traditional bass, felt like a giant wave as we reached the climax of the Bogoroditze.
“It was worth travelling the great distance to hear both the Reading Phoenix and the Voronezh Male Voice Choir at St Nicholas Church, Chadlington. Hearing a Russian choir again brought back fond memories from the 50s and 60s when I used to go to hear Russian music performed at the Royal Albert Hall and other venues in the capital. The concert gave us two distinct sides of the musical sphere and was a very moving experience and will live long in my memory.I hope the bonds of friendship between the two choirs will continue for many years to come. Memo to Voronezh Choir – Haste he back.”
Leslie Townsend -Friend of Phoenix.
Members of choir hosted the group and the following day was spent in Windsor followed by a concert shared with Occasion Singers in St Mark’s Church Binfield and finally a lunchtime concert in Reading Minster on Monday featuring their extensive repertoire of sacred, classical, folk and popular music. My favourites were The Wide Russian Steppes, Unsaddle the Horses, Lads and a beautiful arrangement of the Beatle’s Yesterday. They raised £250 for the Minster Organ Fund.
Then it was a couple of hours of shopping before attending our weekly rehearsal. Hopefully, we will be making a return visit in Spring 2018 with concerts in Petersburg, Moscow and Voronezh. I can’t wait!
Gill Leishman – Reading Phoenix Chairman