Choral Arts Northwest: Rachmaninoff’s Vespers ('All-Night Vigil')
Rachmaninoff – All-Night Vigil (Vespers)
Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil, or Vespers as the work is commonly called, was composed during a two-week period in January and February 1915. The Vigil is a traditional Russian Orthodox service and therefore performed a cappella and is largely based on unison chant melodies drawn from the service as it would have been sung in medieval Russia.
Using these simple elements, Rachmaninoff created a monumentally expressive work of sheer beauty using a living, breathing instrument – the human chorus – in a way that few composers have before. The writing makes full use of the rich sonority and timbral colors of the Russian choral school of the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries, with voices combining and dividing in a seemingly endless variety of ways.
These rich choral colors are an ideal fit for the recently upgraded acoustic of Plymouth Church. And, in what is sure to be a particularly special event, CANW will also perform the work in the majestic space of the Washington State Capitol Rotunda in Olympia.