In March, the audio studio of St. Elisabeth Convent pleased the audience with a new album, which has a high-sounding name “Our Faith”. The album includes the church chants performed by the ensemble of the sisters of St. Elisabeth Convent. Nun Juliania (Denisova), the chorister of the ensemble, tells about this new CD album, which the listeners have loved already.
– Mother Juliania, was there a certain reason for making this album? Or is it just a continuation of the “Pilgrim’s Chants” series?
– When our sisters performed successfully in the Kuban, where the exhibitions and concerts of St. Elisabeth Convent took place, people began to come to us and to ask for CDs with the chants the sisters had performed. But we did not have any back then. So, we decided to make a CD with the current repertoire of the ensemble.
– Why “ensemble”, not “choir”? Is it an incomplete or reduced form of the monastic choir?
– Yes. In 2010, the sisters performed in Europe for the first time. Now there are four sisters of mercy and four-five monastics. The latter have seldom an opportunity to participate in such long trips. They all are in change for the large departments in the convent and they just cannot leave their obedience. The record was made in several steps and the ensemble team was changed over a bit several times. However, the main thing is that the style of a complete monastic choir singing was preserved.
The CD album consists of two parts – the Divine service chants (the chants that are sung at services in the convent) and the choral singing that we hear during akathists, when people are anointed with chrism. We also sing the songs from the repertoire of the Festive and sisters’ choirs of the convent, which I arranged so that they are better suited for the ensemble’s concerts.
– How did you manage to unite such a diverse collection of songs?
– I have noticed that on kliros we – both with the sisters’ and the Festive choir – can sing various chants during a single service that can be absolutely different by their character: it can be either something colloquial, some more difficult melodies or even a harmonization of a Byzantine chant. Everything is united with the choir’s sound. You cannot confuse the sister’s or the Festive choir with something else. It becomes clear since the first notes, that it is the choir of St. Elisabeth Convent. Various people have mentioned this fact many times. We do not demand academic voice training as it is used to be in professional choirs, although it is assumed that this practice is necessary for a choir to sound as one.
– It seems you have managed to achieve your own special choir tone…
– Yes, we have a special tone color. This is our know-how, the main feature of this album. At the same time, the diversity of compositions increases the interest of the audience: when a women’s choir is singing, the tempo, sense and arrangement must not be the same all the time.
So, in our new album there is diversity, and there are certain unifying factors.
In any art and in any team there is a necessity in such a factor. It is important to find a balance, so that there will be no eclecticism in it…
– Was there anything special while working on this album? Did it stand out of your other works somehow?
Of course, it did! For me it was a possibility to listen to the pure accords and professional singing. We always want to reach high quality, to make everithing perfect. And all the members of the ensemble want this, too. They are gathered into this choir not without reason – they all have a perfect hearing, their voices fit to each other and just go with each other. The singers understand each other well.
– Mother, were there any difficulties or not? This is still not the first album of this kind.
While recording any CD album, there is the fear that we will lose the spirit… This is why we record our albums in the church so that it reminds us for what we do this at all. We record many takes. Sometimes something does not work out – we take this fragment and work. Today, due to the help of modern technical equipment, there is a possibility to resort to footage, settling and mastering. It is not as it has been earlier: you started recording, you taped singing – and then the record went on the air. You had to sing perfectly from beginning to end. There was no possibility to edit something. This is how the first disks of the Festive choir were recorded.
– Why does the album has such a name – “Our Faith”?
This is the name of one of the songs. It is rather defining, it points to a particular confession or national identity. Only from the text of the song, we will learn then that our faith is the Orthodox one. It kind of a song form of the Creed. While the rest of the songs open various sides of this faith through the prism of national understanding and vision.
May 2, 2018
St. Elisabeth Convent