Russian choir opens Border Concert

This year’s Border Concert series was launched in fine style last Thursday (Oct. 4) with the appearance of The State Symphony Capella of Russia.
The 48-voice mixed choir filled Backus Auditorium in International Falls with the deep, rich music of some of Russia’s most celebrate composers.
Under the precise direction of conductor Valeri Polyansky, the Capella gave a flawless demonstration of superb musicality with the strict discipline you would expect from one of Russia’s leading choral groups.
As the name suggests, the Capella performed without instrumental accompaniment. From his musicians, Polyansky drew out the complete range of sound—from the chest-rumbling deep basses to notes that faded off to a mere whisper.
The vocal technique was flawless, and the music had a clarity and precision that was breath-taking.
Thursday’s concert included works from the Russian romantic masters, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff, as well as selections from lesser-known vocal composers, Bortniansky, Taneyev, and Sidelnikov.
The concert’s most challenging piece certainly was a choral concerto by Schnittke, a postmodernist Russian composer.
This fiendishly-difficult work seemed to change key every few measures, and the complex chord structure produced a dark, unsettling mood.
The Capella pulled it off superbly.
After receiving a warm standing ovation, the Capella treated the Border Concert audience to an encore—“Tea for Two,” a beautiful choral arrangement of the well-known tune, sung in English.
The season’s series of concerts continues at Backus Auditorium on Tuesday, Oct. 23, with a performance by “Acclarion,” a duo of accordion and clarinet.