Sretensky Monastery Choir | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Sretensky Monastery Choir

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Moscow's Sretensky Monastery was founded in 1395, in celebration of victory over Tartar invaders. In 1917, following the Bolshevik revolution, its monks were exiled to Soviet prison camps. Returned to the Russian Orthodox Church in 1994, it formed its choir not only for worship services but also to revive early Russian music banned by the Soviet regime and to champion new music that had protested that repression. Now the 42-voice male choir, conducted by artistic director Nikon Zhila, is coming to America for the first time, bringing a program of chants, folk songs, and romances. Even more striking than the singers' power and precision is the music itself--with titles like "Down the Mother Volga" and "Spring Shall Come but Not for Me"--which reveals Russia's history and soul. This is potent, aggressively ethnic music--safe only in the hands of a group like Sretensky--that should deeply stir its new audience. a 7 PM, Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan, 312-294-3000 or 800-223-7114, $15-$45. --Steve Langendorf

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