The male choir "Optina Pustyn" was founded in 1996 in the Cathedral of Dormition of the Theotokos on Vasilevskiy Island in St.Petersburg. In 1994, this Cathedral became the metochion of Optina Pustyn. From the first days of establishment, the choir continues to add to its liturgical repertoire of ancient and modern ecclesiastical chants. The result of the activities of the choir was a performance of many singers' manuscripts from the collections of academic libraries that have found their new sound in the worship compound. In addition to ancient Russian styles of singing such as: znamenny chant, pytevovo, demisting, string, znamenny polyphony and partesa, the choir sings chants of the Orthodox singing traditions in Greek, Serbian, Bulgarian and Georgian, as well as modern arrangements of ancient chants and religious hymns by Russian composers.

The founder of the choir, artistic director and choir director, Alexander Semenov, graduated from the conducting and choral faculty of the St. Petersburg Conservatory under People's Artist of Russia’s V. V. Borisov, the elective of symphony-conducting in the class of People's Artist of Russia’s E. A. Serov, and furthermore, Semenov studied ancient Russian notation under the guidance of A. N. Kruchinina and Z. M. Huseynova. The ensemble is composed of professional soloists - graduates of the St. Petersburg Conservatory. It consists of an honor artist of Russia, soloist of the State Choir Chapel & the Mariinsky Theatre Vladimir Miller (bass-profundo), and laureates of international competitions: Alexander Gorbatenko (counter-tenor), Dmitry Shishkin (bass), Dmitry Pisarev (baritone), Boris Petrov (baritone), Evgeny Mikheev (tenor), Andrey Ivanushkin (tenor), Victor Khaprov (bass), Sergey Grigoriev (regent and bass).

After two decades of creative work, the choir “Optina Pustyn” has performed in more than 30 cities in Russia touring in Belgium, Hungary, Germany, Holland, Spain, Italy, China, Colombia, Norway, Serbia, Montenegro, Finland, France, Sweden, Estonia and Ukraine. Concerts have taken place in the Assumption Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin, St. Sophia Cathedral of Novgorod and Kiev, in many cathedrals of Western Europe, in the Great and Small Concert Halls of the St Petersburg Philharmonic, hall of the Academic Capella, Big Concert Hall "Oktyabrskiy", Laeiszhalle (Hamburg), and Rikskonsert (Stockholm). In 2006, Warner Music released a CD, recorded together with the orchestra "I Solisti Veneti" under the director, Claudio Shimon. Also, the choir has published 14 solo CD’s and SACD albums.

Over the years, the ensemble has continued to delve into the field of historical performance. In 2008, the historical Museum Regensburg (Germany) was presented the program "Singing of the Ancient Church", which included Gregorian, di Sant'ambrogio Church, Byzantine, Armenian and Georgian chants of the V-XVI centuries in the original languages. In 2011, together with the founder of the "Hueglas Ensemble", Paul van Nevela, the program "Ars Aniqua & Ars Nova" took place. In 2013, in the Small Hall of the Philharmonic, the choir performed the program "Melodies of the Sovereign Singers Clerks". The audience loves to listen to large concert programs associated with the days of the Great Lent, feasts of Easter and Christmas, as well as programs dedicated to ancient Russian singing styles and works of Russian composers.


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