The Association of Folk and Choral Performers of Russian Musical Union held a conference of arts public figures in Tula
On February 1, a conference of the Association of Folk and Choral Performers of Russian Musical Union was held in the Column Hall of the Nobility Assembly of Tula Town.
The conference was attended by Alexander Klevitsky, Director of Russian Musical Union, Honored Artist of the Russian Federation, composer and conductor, and Ekaterina Mechetina, Chairman of the Guild of Academic Performance of Russian Musical Union, Honored Artist of the Russian Federation, pianist. The geography of speakers covered about 30 cities and towns of Russia.
Professor Alexander Solovyov, Head of the Association of Folk and Choral Performers of Russian Musical Union, Dean of Moscow Conservatory, opened the meeting of public figures in culture. In his welcoming speech, Alexander Solovyov briefly talked about the work of the Association and the importance of holding such conferences: “The purpose of the Association is to promote young choirmasters, create environment for the implementation of new projects, and assist in finding a modern repertoire.”
Speaking about the meeting in Tula, Alexander Solovyov noted that in the process of preparing for the event, which lasted almost a year and a half, it was decided to break the participants’ reports into three thematic blocks, covering the problems of choirs’ repertoire. Special attention was paid to the introduction of modern music, preservation of cultural heritage and national singing traditions, as well as the state of education, in particular in the field of children’s choral performance.
All those present highly appreciated the open dialogue and the format of panel discussion. So, live communication allowed us to discuss the development of choral art both in Russia and in the regions in general.
Development of choral art varies from one region to another at present. For example, in Karelia it is only in its infancy, and, according to the president of Petrozavodsk Conservatory Alexei Kubyshkin, since March 2020, thanks to the efforts of the conservatory, the first professional ensemble in history has been organized – the chamber male choir. At the same time, in Novosibirsk, on the contrary, the choral culture is highly developed. Alexander Pariman, Professor of the Choir Conducting Department of Novosibirsk Conservatory, noted: “In August 2019, we registered the Prometheus Choral Fraternity, which unites 40 amateur choirs. We are the first philharmonic to organize a choral competition.”
Another important topic was the reduction of admission quotas in professional educational institutions. Alexander Ryzhinsky, the president of the Gnesins Russian Academy of Music, Alexander Zanorin, the president of Saratov Conservatory, Yuri Karpov, vice-president for science at Kazan Conservatory, Larisa Ekard, the head of Folk Singing Division of the Choir Conducting Department at the Siberian State Institute of Arts, Bair Turbyanov, director of Tchaikovsky Art College in Ulan-Ude, spoke about this. Geography indicates that this is a system failure. Moreover, admission is reduced both at mid-level and at conservatories, which raises the problem of a lack of personnel for working with amateur and children’s choirs, a decrease in the number of student choirs is noted in colleges and universities.
The issue of choir repertoire was discussed considering various challenges. Firstly, its relevance is obvious in relation to outdated teaching methods, including solfeggio (ear training), which do not develop pitch based on modern music. Secondly, there was a discussion about the lack of special textbooks of a new type intended for choir members, and, thirdly, about the inaccessibility of notes.
These and other issues can be gradually resolved within the framework of the nation-wide master class “Choirmaster of the 21st Century”, a project proposed by Professor Alexander Solovyov. The master class is aimed at the introduction of modern approaches in conducting and choral practices and performance of new music. It should include classes by curators, famous choral conductors and teachers with young choirmasters gathered from all over Russia.
Partial resolution of some problems was found on the sidelines of the conference – a new series of collections, “Repertoire of Choirmaster in the 21st Century”, was published by “The Composer”, a publishing house in Moscow, on the initiative of Alexander Solovyov. The first two issues contain transcriptions of the masterpieces of world classics by Kuzma Bodrov and the author’s works of Alexander Klevitsky. The publication, released with the support of Russian Musical Union, is designed to fill the gaps in this area.
The evening ended with a musical performance of the “Dar Choir” youth band founded by choirmaster Sergey Vasiliev in Tula Arts College named after A. S. Dargomyzhsky, and a concert dedicated to the 100th anniversary of I. A. Mikhailovsky, a famous choral conductor and public figure, who was the head of Tula Regional Philharmonic and Tula State Choir. Alexander Solovyov directed the joint choir; the piano part was performed by Honored Artist of Russia Ekaterina Mechetina, who then played the preludes, “Elegy” by Rachmaninoff, and a number of transcriptions by the composer.
The Association of Folk and Choral Performed was founded in 2018 as part of the Guild of Academic Performance of Russian Musical Union. Among its main tasks are creative and professional support of folk and choral groups, conductors and choirmasters, the creation of environment for new projects aimed at popularizing folk and choral performances, including assistance in organizing sound recordings and conducting regional, national and international festivals, master classes, competitions of conductors and choirs, lectures and seminars. Important goals of the Association are assistance in promotion of young choirmasters and search for modern repertoire.