The male choir "Optina Pustyn" was founded in 1996 in the Cathedral of metochion of Optina Pustyn in St.Petersburg. 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, putevoy & demestvenny chant’s, znamenny polyphony and partes, 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 V.Borisov, the elective of symphony-conducting in the class E.Serov, and furthermore, studied ancient Russian notation. 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, Macedonia, Montenegro, Finland, France, Poland, 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, Laeiszhalle (Hamburg), Rikskonsert (Stockholm). In 2006, Warner Music released a CD, recorded together with the orchestra "I Solisti Veneti" under Claudio Shimone. Also, the choir has published 11 solo CD’s and 3 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, Ambrsian, 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 Nevel, 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". 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.