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Clarion Choir

World Premiere of Alexander Levine’s “Vigil for Peace” in Support of Ukraine

Early last month, the Clarion Choir gave the world premiere of the work alongside works by Rachmaninoff

 

In January 2024, the GRAMMY-nominated Clarion Choir gave the world premiere of the Vigil for Peace by the Russian-born composer Alexander Levine, who is now based in the UK. 

Written on the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia, Vigil for Peace is a 12-section piece for unaccompanied choir that ties both hope and unity, writes David Patrick Stearns in the artsjournal

Inspired by the tradition of Eastern Orthodox sacred music, Levine also describes his piece as an “[endeavor] to unify people’s hearts and minds,” and that “[the] foundation stone of this effort lies in the notion of the ongoing dialogue between the old and the new.”

The texts featured in the piece are liturgical and in Russian; references to the Russia-Ukraine war were not explicit. 

A video of “Antiphon Stepénna” from Levine’s Vigil for Peace can be viewed below. 

 

Vigil for Peace was performed alongside choral works by Rachmaninoff, including the Six Part Songs for Women’s Voices, the Choral Concerto “O Mother of God Perpetually Praying,” and Panteley the Healer as part of Clarion Choir’s marking of Rachmaninoff’s 150th anniversary year.

The concert was presented on December 31, 2023, and January 1, 2024, at New York’s Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. 

“My connection to Ukraine runs deep,” Levine wrote in the program notes, according to artsjournal. “The lyrical beauty of the ancient text inspired me to compose music intricately woven with various aspects of Ukrainian culture, seeking to preserve and celebrate the essence.” 

“But while musically ingenious, the resolutions (in the work) also served a symbolic function,” Stearns wrote. “The piece is about resolving crisis, and while the world stands powerless over what is happening in the Ukraine, there’s a resolution to be had within one’s self, not accepting or enabling the war, but living our lives and determining what can be done from afar.”

 

Born in Moscow in 1955, Levine studied piano and clarinet from the age of six at the Gnessin Music School and the Gnessin Music Academy from 1976 to 1980. In the following years, his compositions won prestigious awards from the Russian National Radio and Television between 1989 and 1991. 

In 1993, he was awarded the Wingate Foundation Scholarship to study a postgraduate composition course at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama with Gary Carpenter and Simon Bainbridge.

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