Rachmaninoff's Vespers

Rose Hanson ‘15

Sergei Rachmaninoff. Most people associate this composer with impressive piano pieces. It may be a surprising fact that although these pieces are the most well-known, piano was not Rachmaninoff’s instrument of choice. Instead, his favorite works were his choral works. The Chorus and Glee Club had the amazing opportunity to perform one of these works, Rachmaninoff’s “All-Night Vigil,” on April 13, 2012 for our major work of the semester.

This particular spring concert was incredibly powerful to be a part of. We performed in a completely sold-out Sage Chapel, and the knowledge that this concert was Professor Tucker’s last major work permeated our singing. The music had such potential for emotion and beauty, and we did our best to do it justice. Rehearsals’ included a close study of the Russian words and numerous discussions about the English translations of those words, which were the traditional mass text for a religious vespers. 

Come concert day we gave the 15-movement work our all. The connection between director and singer, the complete silence in betweenmovements, and the sheer willpower to sing for an hour straight created a magical environment in which we felt nothing could touch the beauty of the music. It is safe to say that anyone in Sage that night understood exactly why Rachmaninoff’s favorite compositions were choral.