SLO Master Chorale performing Rachmaninoff’s ‘All-Night Vigil’

Wednesday, March 20th, 2024

Concerts San Luis Obispo Master Chorale

April season closing includes a weekend of educational events

—Tickets are on sale now for the SLO Master Chorale’s performance of selections from Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “All-Night Vigil,” happening on Sunday, April 21. The running time of the performance is 70 minutes of glorious acapella singing, plus a 20-minute intermission.

Two free educational “Beyond the Notes” presentations by academic scholar, Dr. Vladimir Morosan are offered during the weekend of the concert, resulting in a two-day event intended to engage the community and educate the audience. Dr. Morosan is the founder and president of the Musica Russica publishing company.

During “Music of the Eastern Orthodox Church: What’s up?” on Saturday, April 20, Dr. Morosan discusses the traditions of the music, describes its transcendent qualities, and explains how the music of the church has transformed over the years.

At the presentation, “Rachmaninoff and his All-Night Vigil: Inspirations,” also led by Dr. Morosan on Sunday, April 21, learn about Rachmaninoff’s sources and musical references utilized during his composition of the work.

These free educational events highlight the times and culture surrounding the work to be performed. The free educational events offer an in-depth look at the background and history of the piece for an enhanced understanding of the context of the music, an increased appreciation for the music and live performance, and to spread awareness about the arts.

The SLO Master Chorale is diligently rehearsing under the direction of Dr. Thomas Davies to prepare for this third and final performance of the 2023/2024 season. The SLO Master Chorale performs with over 100 voices in a rare concert given without the SLO Master Chorale Orchestra. The acapella music for the chorus matches the traditional vocal complement in the Russian Orthodox Church. A dynamically diverse work, members of the chorale will be spread out all over the Performing Arts Center stage.

Rachmaninoff’s signature chorale, “All-Night Vigil” has become a fixture in choral repertoire, standing as the crowning achievement of the golden age of Russian Orthodox sacred choral music. Much of the melodic material was drawn from ancient unison chants surrounded by the addition of three to ten vocal lines. A typical religious service in which the piece would be performed would take place on Saturday nights and the eves of major liturgical feasts. If the piece were to be performed in full, including the music, it would indeed last all night and into Sunday. During the modern day in the Western world, similar vigils may only be seen in wakes, however without such sublime music.

Music Director Thomas Davies is excited to lead the SLO Master Chorale in this presentation. To prepare for the concert, he implemented a unique technology to help the choir learn the pronunciation of the text, which is entirely in Church Slavonic, similar yet slightly different from modern Russian. Concerning Rachmaninoff’s compositional style, Davies said, “Rachmaninoff treats the voices of the choir as if they were a full orchestra. Each movement has its unique sound featuring different choir sections along with a constantly changing number of vocal parts.”

The San Luis Obispo Master Chorale (originally the Cuesta Master Chorale) is an auditioned ensemble that specializes in the performance of large masterworks for choir and orchestra. Members of the ensemble come from throughout San Luis Obispo County. Thomas Davies, musical director and conductor, has led the performances since the fall of 1984.

“Music of the Eastern Orthodox Church: What’s up?” is presented on Saturday, April 20, at 3 p.m. at the Indian Hill Clubhouse at San Luis Bay Estates, 6375 Fire House Canyon Rd., Avila Beach.

“Music of the Eastern Orthodox Church: What’s up?” is on Saturday, April 20 at 1:15 p.m. immediately followed by the concert at 3 p.m.

Both “Music of the Eastern Orthodox Church: What’s up?” and the concert are in Harold Miossi Hall at the Performing Arts Center San Luis Obispo, 1 Grand Ave, San Luis Obispo.

For tickets or more information visit or call the box office at (805) 756-4849.


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