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Meet the Artistic Director | Russian Musical Arts Society of America

Russian Chamber Chorus of New York (RCCNY) was founded in 1984 by Artistic Director and Conductor Nikolai Kachanov. Over the course of thirty-five years, the chorus has become America's preeminent Russian vocal ensemble and one of the world's greatest ambassadors of the Russian creative spirit. Known for its stylistic versatility, richness of sound and subtlety of expression, RCCNY commands a wide repertoire, from ancient liturgical chants to world premieres by leading contemporary composers.


RCCNY is honored to have participated in the historic concert series Music and Dictatorship: Russia under Stalin, with Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, under Vladimir Ashkenazy, at Carnegie Hall in 2003. The chorus performed Prokofiev's Hail to Stalin, an excerpt from his film score for Ivan the Terrible, Shostakovich's score for The Fall of Berlin, Antiformalist Rayok, and his Symphony No. 13, "Babi Yar".

Rehearsal with Vladimir Ashkenavy and Czech Philharmonic for "Babi Yar"

Other Carnegie Hall performances include the American premiere of Sergei Taneyev's opera Agamemnon with the Manhattan Philharmonic under Peter Tiboris and the Aquila Theatre Company, featuring Olympia Dukakis; Antiformalist Rayok with the Moscow Virtuosi under Vladimir Spivakov; the American premiere of Mikis Theodorakis' opera Electra; Mahler's Symphony No. 2 with the Kirov Orchestra under Valery Gergiev (New York Times reviewer Allan Kozinn described this performance as "glorious"); Tchaikovsky's cantata "Moscow" with the American-Russian Youth Orchestra under Leon Botstein (Carnegie Hall and Tanglewood); Prokofiev's cantata Alexander Nevsky with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, under Yuri Temirkanov; as well as participation in the Stars of the Kirov Celebrate Russia Day event.

RCCNY performed at the Guggenheim Museum, as part of the opening celebration surrounding the opening of the exhibit Russia! The chorus appeared on the nationally acclaimed NPR radio program "A Prairie Home Companion" with Garrison Keillor.

From RCCNY's appearance on "Prairie Home Companion"

RCCNY performances also include Rachmaninoff's monumental Vespers: All-Night Vigil to sold-out audiences at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine; Rachmaninoff's Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom at the New York Festival of Sacred Music, produced by John Schaefer and Philip Glass. This event, being part of a World Festival of Sacred Music that spanned two years and 19 cities, was simulcast on WNYC-FM. RCCNY also performed at the "Re-Encountering Rachmaninoff" festival, where James Oestreich (The New York Times) praised the group for the "suppleness and otherworldliness of its sound." Willa Conrad (The Star-Ledger) called RCCNY "an inspired choice" and hailed the chorus's "stylistic purity" and "exciting, spontaneous" performance." RCCNY's performance of Tchaikovsky's Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom at the Bard College "Tchaikovsky Rediscoveries" (American premiere) festival was called "splendid, radiant, and sonorous" by Paul Griffiths (The New York Times). James Oestreich (The New York Times) called the chorus's performance of Yuri Yukechev's music, "superbly prepared and deftly realized".

The chorus performed a sold-out program celebrating the 300th anniversary of the city of St. Petersburg as the culminating event of the Harriman Institute Symposium, St. Petersburg Through American Eyes.

RCCNY collaborated with The Canticum Novum Singers to perform Schnittke's masterpiece Concerto for Choir, and with The Riverside Church Choir in the program "Reflections: Ten Years Later"; and also with the Bachanalia Chamber Orchestra and Nina Beilina, in a rare full-score performance of Alexander Gretchaninoff's Liturgia Domestica.

The chorus created three concert series: "Spirit of Old Russia", "Parallels and Crossings", and "Russia and its Neighbors." For the Russia and its Neighbors concert series the chorus performed music from Ukraine, Belorussia (Belarus), Armenia, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Tuva.

Performances by RCCNY have been featured on "New Sounds" with John Schaefer and "Around New York" with Fred Child (both on WNYC-FM); and "The Choral Mix" with Kent Tritle (WQXR).

Dedication to Contemporary and Underexposed Works

The chorus brought ancient znamenny chants, previously banned in the Soviet Union, to American audiences. The Library of Congress used these chants for its documentary Old Believers, part of the Great Heritage series.

The chorus has performed contemporary music by composers including Arvo Pärt, John Tavener, Feliksas Bajoras, Victor Copytsko, Krzysztof Pendercki, Efrem Podgaits, Alfred Schnittke, Mikhail Zeiger, and others, as well as original compositions and arrangements by Nikolai Kachanov. Many of these works were commissioned by RCCNY.

RCCNY premiered Alexei Haieff's long-lost masterworks, Holy Week and Easter, at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

The chorus's wide repertoire includes music from many other countries, as well as by American composers. A recent RCCNY program, "Currents of Jewish Classical Tradition," included music by American, Israeli and Russian composers.


Tchaikovsky's Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. Chosen by New York Times critic James Oestreich to be number four on his list of the top ten classical CDs of 2001.

Tchaikovsky's Vespers: All-Night Vigil (Koch International). A "luxurious, rich interpretation" of this seminal liturgical work (Detroit Free Press).

Yuri Yukechev's two cantatas My Heart Is Ready and By Candlelight (Helicon). Two works by this contemporary Siberian composer, "superbly prepared, 飨ly imagined and deftly realized" (The New York Times).

Nikolai Kachanov's Benevolence. Two transcendent compositions interweaving East and West: Benevolence, a choral cycle, and Reflections on Stanzas from the Book of Dzyan, for chorus, synthesizer and trumpets.

Carols and Songs features Ukrainian carols, arranged by Maestro Kachanov, Rachmaninoff's Six Songs for Women's Voices and his Vocalise, selections from Grechaninoff's Liturgia Domestica, and Shchedryk, the Ukrainian folk song known as Carol of the Bells. "An outstanding musical gift for the holidays... attractive compositions for every taste... singing with spirit, musicality and finesse... will be thoroughly enjoyed" ( Musica Russica)

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