The Male Choir of St Elisabeth Convent is actively involved in worship services held every Friday in the chapel of a Boarding Home for Elderly and Less Able. They also sing in other Convent churches on Sundays. Founded initially by the monastic brethren, the Choir has undergone several line-up changes. Today it consists of lay men, mostly working at the Convent.
The Сhoir participates in several annual church music events, such as Quadragesimal Concert Series, organized by St Elisabeth Convent together with Belarusian State Music Academy and the Convent's Sovereign Voice Choir Festival. It has also released their first CD album introducing the listener to a truly amazing world of ancient church singing.
The repertoire of the Male Choir is based on ancient two-part chants, such as Znamenny, Valamo, Kievan, Byzantine, etc. Shaping its own sounding, the Choir takes a cue from the very authentic chant of the Valamo Transfiguration Monastery, often described as a fusion of Byzantium and the Russian North with its severe nature.
The Male Choir precentor Evgeny Prokofiev
“The overarching goal of church singing is to facilitate prayer,” Evgeny Prokofiev, the Choir precentor says, "A Greek researcher Fr Ioannis Fotopoulos, who studied Byzantine church singing, notes that church poetry is a separate musical art that serves the purpose of partaking in Church mysteries rather than pleasing the audience. A church singer can help the listener enter into a prayerful state of mind if he himself is prepared well enough to dwell in prayer. To us, it is important by revealing the significance of liturgical texts to use the beauty of church singing as a means of prayer.”
The Monastic Сhoir of St Elisabeth Convent (Minsk, Belarus) will be touring Great Britain between September 28th and October 4th with a series of charitable concerts. The tour begins in Bristol.
We decided to interview the precentor of the Brothers’ Choir of St Elisabeth Convent to learn more details about the way of church singing in the Convent today.
Maria Bakhvalova is a new director of the Convent’s Monastic Choir and has worked with many choirs, participated in international competitions and won prestigious awards.
This choir grew out of an amateur choir of the sisters of charity. There are now as many as 20-25 members of this choir who sing during feasts.
We interviewed Nun Juliania (Denisova), the precentor of the Festive Choir, and ask her to tell our readers about the choir’s new songs, about creativity, about choir singing, and about music in general.
At Saint Elisabeth Convent, Nun Juliania is the Senior Precentor and conductor of its Festive Choir. We asked her about the meaning of her creative work and the impact of her spiritual life on her growth as a musician.
The Festive Choir of St Elisabeth Convent has long been popular with lovers of church music. All members are musicians: choir directors, musicologists, composers, performers.