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MSU Chamber Orchestra


About

the MSU Chamber Orchestra

Minstrels with a Rebec and a Lute, from the "Cantigas de Santa Maria",  XIII c.

History. Chamber Orchestra of Moscow State University was born in 1967. It was created by Edward Gindin a talented musician with a strong personality who played viola in the orchestra of Stanislavsky Opera Theatre but also had played before for a while in a famous Chamber Orchestra directed by Lev Markiz. Creation of the orchestra was enthusiastically supported by professor Shilov and academician Petrovskiy, the Rector of the Moscow State University at that time. It was originally formed as a chamber orchestra at the School of Mathematics and Mechanics but soon (since September 1967) transformed into a Chamber Orchestra of the Moscow State University. Initially, the style of the orchestra followed the "good manners" dictated by the legendary Moscow Chamber Orchestra founded in 1961 by Rudolf Barshai. In 1976, Edward Gindin emigrated to US as a refugee and the orchestra got for a while a shadow of a "politically incorrect collective". Since then, the orchestra was directed by Alexander Riz, a docent from Gnesin Institute (1975-1978 and 1987-1989; subsequently, emigrated to US), and other musicians Oleg Reshetkin (1979), Alexander Moldavskiy (1979-1987; eventually, emigrated to Israel) and Georgiy Kheresko (1985-1986; diseased 1999) and Dmitry Goldobin (1990/1991). The Chamber Orchestra of Moscow State University won the first prizes in the 1-st and 2-nd All-Union festivals of non-professional arts. It is also a laureat of two Festivals of Amateur Chamber Orchestras in Erevan. The current music director Alexander Konstantinov is not a professional musician, but an actively working biochemist, who has played violin in the orchestra since 1968, and has been its konzertmeister since ca. 1970.

In 1989, following steady and determined devotion of one of the orchestra members Andrey Sharapov (viola) who introduced to us first tape copies of authentic style performers and was persistent enough to use gut strings, give up a shoulder rest and a chin rest and to buy a baroque bow, the orchestra became interested in the so-called authentic style of baroque music performance. Having started virtually on the scratch, guided by accidental copies of recordings by Hogwood, Pinnock, Gardiner, Hornancourt and Leonhardt and progressing by tries and errors, the orchestra gradually picked up its own feeling of the style. A great impetus in this direction was given by Vladimir Drozdov (double bass) and Dmitry Goldobin (harpsichord) who joined the Orchestra in 1990 and before entering the orchestra, played for a while in one of the first authentic style ensembles organized in Moscow by Ivan Monigetti. Dmitry Goldobin spent a year as a music director of the orchestra in 1990/1991 academic year and the first early music program made with him (Locke, H.Lawes, Muffat, Kindermann, Halborne) provided a basis for further progress of the orchestra in this direction. Tuning down to aí=415 Hz made the evolution irreversible. Since 1990 the orchestra plays without conductor.

 


What do we play.

Before 1990, the repertoir was based mainly on the late baroque music of Corelli, Vivaldi, Handel, J.S.Bach, Telemann. Occasionally, there were Haydn, Mozart, Mendelsson and even Hindemith, Prokofiev and Shostakovich. Since 1990 and particularly in the last several years the orchestra has extended its repertoir into the 17-th and early 18-th century music of Germany (Schutz, Schein, Scheidt, Hassler, Staden, Kindermann, Rosenmuller, J.Ph. Krieger, Buxtehude, Muffat), Italy (Monteverdi, Carissimi, Legrenzi, A.Scarlatti, Merula, Caldara), England (H.Purcell, H.Lawes, Locke, Dowland, Halborne, Hume, Byrd, Jenkins, O.Gibbons, Rossiter, Mico, Lupo) and France (M.-A.Charpentier, Bernier, Bouismortier, F.Couperin, Rameau).

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Alexander Konstantinov near the Music Library of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champain (IL); here we get most of the sheet music for our programs.


Instruments. We are essentially a conventional string orchestra (violini, violi, celli, double bass and harpsichord). In the smaller ensembles, we use also two viola da gamba's and a viola discant. Occasionally we collaborate with wind instruments and singers. Baroque-type bows have been made for us by Vladimir Drozdov, playing double bass and viola da gamba in the orchestra. Gut or silk strings are used by the leading players and soloists. The newcomers are excused for  playing  metal or synthetic core strings for the beginning.

 

 


Who plays in the orchestra. Moscow State University does not have its own School of Music. The people who play in the orchetsra are students, former students, teachers and research scientists specializing in mathematics and natural or humanitarian sciences. Some of them have picked up professional (college) or semi-professional (high-school) music background, others graduated from the standard so-called 7 year "children music school". Besides, there has always been a number of professional musicians affiliated with the orchestra who found the orchestra style of making music attractive and different from the routine of common professional music life around. The total number of the players is typically around 15-20 but there are hundreds of people who have passed through the orchestra during their studentship since 1967. The string solo parts are played traditionally by members of the orchestra, amost everybody has participated at least once as a soloist. The prominent current soloists are Alexandra Drozdova (cello, viola da gamba), Ivan Dynnikov, Alexander Konstantinov , Olga Zghukova, Natalia Azarkina, Julia Grab (violines), Alexander Schen (harpsichord). Occasionally, soloists from outside are invited given they conform to the style.

 


Links to other early music ensembles.

In the recent years, the orchestra collaborates increasingly with various Moscow professional groups specialized in early music, such as "Madrigal", an established ensemble of Moscow Philharmonia (Lidia Davydova), Collegium Musicum of Moscow State Conservatoir (Oleg Chernyshov), vocal ensembles "Musica humana" (Maria Batova) and "Pilgrims" (Roman Saigin), "Ludi ars magica" renessaince music ensemble (Maria Kornilova), "Pratum musicum" ensemble (Natalia Sherashova), J.S.Bach Centre Soloist Ensemble (Sergey Myasoedov). Among the invited instrument soloists we gratefully acknowledge Victor Miller and Anastasia Kornilova (harpsichord), Antonio Gramshi and Svetlana Sheveleva (recorders), Nikolai Nasonov (flauto traverso), Yuriy Vdovitchenko (viola), Alexander Listratov (cello), Maxim Baikov (gitar). Since 1996 the orchestra affiliates closely with Olga Nazaikinskaya, a musicologist from Moscow State Conservatoir with a celestial soprano. Other vocal soloists include Petr Shabanov and Yuriy Borisov (counter tenors), Elena Pozghidaeva (contralto), Roman Saigin (tenor, counter-tenor), Yuriy Vustin (bass), Irina Bon' , Maria Kornilova, Gulnara Fejzulla and Anna Neverova(sopranos).
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A recital at Malyi Hall of Moscow Conservatoir with "Madrigal" ensemble, 1995.

 


How we practice and where we play.

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A Christmas "Musikabend" in the Moscow State University. January, 1996.

Since the very beginning in 1967, we have had rehearsals twice a week in the evenings (7-10 pm), in the Culture Centre of Moscow State University at Vorobjevy Gory. Typically, we prepare a new ca two hour long program during an academic semester (there are 2 semesters/academic year in MSU) and present it around Christmas and in late May/early June in the University Concert Hall. In addition, the orchestra often plays (free of charge) in public places, such as libraries and museums, outside the University. Additional ensemble programs are performed by different groups of the orchestra soloists (see Concerto Ő√”). The orchestra has had recitals in the Tchaikovsky Hall of Moscow Philharmony, Rachmaninov Hall of Moscow State Conservatoir, Organ Hall of M.Glinka Museum of Musical Arts.

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The cello group at the rehearsal. 1996.

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"Cecilia's Ode" in the Tchaikovsky Hall of Moscow Philharmony. 1996.

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M. Glinka Museum of Musical Arts. Julia Grab half-an-hour before the recital. 1998.

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A recital in M. Glinka Museum of Musical Arts. May, 2000.

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In the Red Hall of Moscow "House of Scientists", January 1999.

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Ceremonial music. The Round Hall at the 31th floor of Moscow State University. February, 2002.

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J. Rosenmuller and H.Schutz in the Onegin Hall of K.S. Stanislavky Museum. October 1999.

 


Ceremonial recitals. According to a tradition introduced by I.G.Petrovskiy, an outstanding Rector of Moscow State University, the Orchestra since 1969 participates in the ceremony of awarding the Professor Honoris Causa degree of Moscow State University which usually takes place in the Council Hall of the Rectorís Office. The most funny episode was associated with awarding such a degree to Mr. Papandreu, VIP, a Prime Minister of Greece at that time. In view of the political importance, the event was moved to the Great Ceremony Hall of the University with about 2 000 people attending, security all around, and several members of the Soviet Communist Party Politbeaureau presiding on the stage. By an accidentally formed tradition, the Orchestra used to play on these occasions the first movement of Corelliís Concerto grosso #4 D-dur which starts with a short very solemn Adagio followed by a merry Neapolitan-style Allegro. As the first 2 chords sounded, all 2 000 people in the Hall stood up in a chain reaction following somebody who probably thought that it was the Greek national anthem; apparently, Mr. Papandreu and members of the Greek delegation gathered that it was a Soviet anthem and also stood up; the Rector (academician A.A. Logunov at that time) tried to correct the situation making signs to Presidium keep seating but he failed and eventually the Politbeareau Members also stood up and Logunov submitted, and then everybody listened standing for 3 minutes to the subsequent merry Allegro. That was a phantastic salute to Music, probably a genuine Trionfo di Corelli. Incidentally, as the Orchestra played again at the end of the ceremony (Vivace-Menuet from the same Concerto) the Rector was the first to stand up to avoid misunderstanding. After the ceremony, the conductor (A.I.Moldavskiy) was depressed and sure he would have been be fired (kidding with the Politbeaureau members might entail quite a serious penalty), but somehow it was decided by administration not to pedal the story.

Another traditional occasion for Ceremonial playing is Tatiana Day (January 25) - an official University Birthday Celebration. The orchestra is also invited to play during many official receptions at the Rectorís office and at the annual ceremony of awarding the Prizes of Academia Europa to young scientists (organized by the president of the Russian AE Club, academician V.P.Skulachev).

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The Tatiana Day Celebration. Victor Sadovnichiy, the Rector of Moscow State University with the Orchestra (January 25, 1999).

 


Tours.

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A recital in the Church of Vilnius University (October, 30, 1988).

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Saratov. June 1992. Tatiana Kan at the Cembalo.

The orchestra does not travel much since all the members of the orchestra have their professional obligations outside music, and finding a fit-everybody time window for a tour is hard. Nevertheless, there was a number of successful tours to Erevan (Armenia), Riga (Latvia), Tartu (Estoniya), Vilnius (Lituania), West Berlin (right in the November days of the Berlin Wall fall) and to a number of cities in Russia (Odessa, Vladimir, Suzdal', Saratov, Kazan, St.-Peterburg).

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A recital in St Peterburg University (May, 13, 2000).

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On the West side of the Berlin Wall: 24 hours before The Fall (November 9, 1989).

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More later. A recital in a church. (November, 1989).


Other activities.

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The orchestra has annual get together parties  to celebrate its birthdays on September 25, that is also a birthday of our  first conductor

Edward Gindin

who crossed the Ocean to visit Moscow at the 25-th and 30-th anniversaries of the orchestra and conducted the performances.

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The 30-th Universary of MSU Chamber Orchestra. September 25, 1997.

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The 35-th Universary. October, 2003.

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One of our early members

Elena Timakova

(cello)

has become a professional artist, and the orchestra plays regularly at her exhibitions.

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Playing at Elena Timakova's personal exhibition. Moscow, Arts Gallery at Peschanaya st., 1999.

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Christmas evening at Lena Timakova's place. January, 1999.

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Vladimir Parkhomenko, a devoted attendant  of MSU Chamber Orchestra recitals, lives in Moscow, works in computer graphics. Since 1999 he has aspired to create the gallery of pictures of the Orchestra and Concerto Ő√” musicians.

Olga Zhukova.

Alexander Konstantinov.

Natalya Azarkina. Olga Nazajkinskaya.
Alexandra Drozdova.

Vladimir Parkhomenko's works.

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Alexander Raikov (luth, guitar, viola da gamba) - graduated from Leningrad State Conservatoire, now lives in USA. MSU Chamber Orchestra got  acquainted with Alexander Raikov via  Edward Gindin in 1998 and since then has aquired  a permanent advisor  in   baroque music interpretation and  techniques of authentic playing.

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Alexander Konstantinov, Edward Gindin and Alexander Raikov at the E.Gindin's Musical Workshop (NW, 2000).

 

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