The Clarion Choir Releases Rachmaninoff's 'All-Night Vigil' On Pentatone

The All-Night Vigil ('Vespers') is an evening service that gradually moves towards daybreak, symbolizing the Resurrection of Christ.

By: Nov. 22, 2022

The Clarion Choir Releases Rachmaninoff's 'All-Night Vigil' On Pentatone

The Clarion Choir and its Artistic Director Steven Fox make their PENTATONE debut with a recording of Sergei Rachmaninoff's choral masterpiece, the All-Night Vigil, demonstrating their exceptional proficiency in Slavic repertoire.

The All-Night Vigil ('Vespers') is an evening service that gradually moves towards daybreak, symbolizing the Resurrection of Christ. This message of light and hope emanating from the darkness is both universal and very topical in the troubled world we find ourselves in. On this recording, many of the movements are preceded by the original Kiev and Znameny chants on which Rachmaninoff based his composition, adding another layer to this mesmerizing piece.

Steven Fox has been the Artistic Director of the New York-based Clarion Choir since 2006. Generally considered as one of the most exceptional U.S. choirs, Clarion Choir's recordings of Russian choral repertoire have received multiple GRAMMY nominations.

"Looking back at it now, I realize it was the magnificence of this work that led me to become a conductor." Steven comments. "The Vespers is extraordinary. Rachmaninoff orchestrates for voices with the same degree of complexity and nuance that he orchestrates his works for orchestra and piano. The extremes of range and tessitura are tested at the top for sopranos and tenors, and at the bottom for the bassi profundi.

"It is now more than 20 years later, and I have had the chance to perform the work numerous times in different settings. Through the years, I have realized just how different each movement is, and it was a goal of mine to show that on this recording. Some movements are hymn-like, for instance No. 13, 'Dnes Spaseniye,' while others are almost polychoral with different textures happening at the same time, such as in Nïne otpushayeshi (the movement that Rachmaninoff requested to be sung at his funeral). There are moments of smooth solemnity such as 'Voskrez iz groba' and others that, with their rhythmic percussiveness, call up images of Rachmaninoff composing from the keyboard. One notices this special rhythmic energy in the last section of No. 9: 'Blagosloven Yesi Ghospodi,' which he later quoted in the Symphonic Dances. Each movement is its own work - a gem - with a singular character.

"One goes through a journey with a work of this magnitude. There were a few parts of the piece that I did not fully appreciate as a student; now they are some of my favorite parts. Conversely, there are parts of the piece that I believe I performed well as a student, but now I struggle with. Perhaps the more you perform the piece, the more you see in it, and the more challenging it becomes. But, for that reason, I hope that this recording is not an endpoint for Clarion, but another step in the journey with this work."

This New Year's Eve, Clarion begins a year-long exploration of the choral works of Rachmaninoff in celebration of the composer's 150th birthday (April 1, 2023). This December 31 and January 1, The Clarion Choir performs Rachmaninoff's Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom in Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral in New York - the same venue where this recording was made. The celebration continues with a performance of All-Night Vigil at Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium/Perlman Stage on May 5. To learn more, visit

One of the country's leading professional vocal ensembles, The Clarion Choir has performed on some of the great stages of North America and Europe. This season they will perform twice at Carnegie Hall and make their debut at the Auditorio Nacional de Música in Madrid, Cal Performances in Berkeley, and LA Opera with The English Concert. Their recent recording of Kastalsky's Requiem reached #1 on the Billboard Traditional Classical Charts, and was nominated for a GRAMMY for Best Choral Performance. The Clarion Choir made their Lincoln Center debut in 2011, performing Bach Chorales

as part of the White Light Festival with organist Paul Jacobs. In 2014, the choir gave the New York premiere of Passion Week by Maximilian Steinberg, and, in October of 2016, premiered the work in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and London. Their performance was featured on PBS, and their recording of it, the Choir's debut recording, received a GRAMMY nomination, as well as a nomination for BBC Music Magazine's Choral Award. The Choir's second recording, the world premiere recording of Alexander Kastalsky's Memory Eternal to the Fallen Heroes, also was nominated for a GRAMMY for Best Choral Performance and was 'Editor's Choice' in Gramophone. The Clarion Choir has performed regularly in recent years as part of the MetLiveArts series at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; including performances of large-scale Renaissance works by Victoria, Palestrina, Tavener and Guerrero in the Medieval Sculpture Hall and the Met Cloisters. The Choir, and Artistic Director Steven Fox, have collaborated in recent years with renowned artists such as Harry Bicket and The English Concert at Carnegie Hall, Eric Jacobsen and The Knights, Susan Graham, Leonard Slatkin and the Orchestra of St. Luke's, and Madonna at the 2018 Met Gala.

Steven Fox is Artistic Director of The Clarion Choir & The Clarion Orchestra in New York, and Music Director of Cathedral Choral Society at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. The 2022-2023 season sees his conducting debuts with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Atlanta Ballet. In previous seasons, he has conducted the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre Symphonique de Québec, Opéra de Québec, Chicago's Music of the Baroque, San Francisco's Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Boston's Handel and Haydn Society, Juilliard415, Charleston Symphony Orchestra, Tucson Symphony Orchestra, Portland's Cappella Romana, and Toronto's Theatre of Early Music. His performances have taken him to some of the most prestigious halls internationally, such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall and David H. Koch Theatre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, London's Barbican Centre and Duke's Hall, St. Petersburg's Grand Philharmonic Hall and Hermitage Theater, Moscow's Rachmaninoff Hall, Paris's Theatre des Champs Elysée, and the Vatican.

Steven was named an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music, London, in 2010 'for significant contributions to his field in music,' and has received GRAMMY nominations for his first three recordings: Steinberg's Passion Week (2016), Kastalsky's Memory Eternal (2018), and Kastalsky's Requiem (2020).

Steven Fox was Chorus Master for the GRAMMY-award-winning recording of Ethel Smyth's The Prison, featuring Sarah Brailey, soprano, Dashon Burton, bass-baritone, and The Experiential Orchestra and Chorus conducted by James Blachly. In recent years, he has collaborated with artists and ensembles such as Harry Bicket and The English Concert, Susan Graham, Leonard Slatkin and the Orchestra of St. Luke's, Eric Jacobsen and The Knights Chamber Orchestra, and Madonna at the 2018 Met Gala.

Steven graduated as a Senior Fellow with High Honors in Music and Russian from Dartmouth College, and with Distinction from the Royal Academy of Music. Steven founded Musica Antiqua St. Petersburg as Russia's first period-instrument orchestra at the age of 21, and premiered several important Russian 18th-century symphonic and operatic works with the orchestra. From 2008 to 2013 he was an Associate Conductor at New York City Opera, and, in 2011, served as Assistant Conductor for the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artists Program and Juilliard Opera. He has given master classes and clinics at The Royal Academy of Music, Dartmouth College, The Juilliard School, and Yale University, where he served for two years as preparatory conductor of the Yale Schola Cantorum.

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