Rachmaninoff’s All Night Vigil (Vespers)

with the University Singers and the Oratorio Society of Virginia
April 29, 2022 - 8:00pm
St. Thomas Aquinas Church (Charlottesville)
$37, $27, $10 students – and free UVA student tickets reserved ahead, with a cap of 200

The University of Virginia University Singers and The Oratorio Society of Virginia will combine efforts for Charlottesville’s first ever full performance of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Vespers, officially known as All-Night Vigil.  On Friday, April 29th, 2022 at 8:00 PM, the public will have the opportunity to hear this stunning and profound work, sung by more than 150 singers in the beautifully renovated St. Thomas Aquinas University Church (401 Alderman Rd, in Charlottesville.)  Tickets are available at the UVA Arts Box Office: https://tickets.artsboxoffice.virginia.edu/9743/9955 | 434 924-3376,  The Oratorio Society has arranged for a Live Stream for this concert so there are also tickets available to the Live Stream for those who can not make it to the concert in person.

Months ago, when the two ensembles were planning this event, there was no way of knowing how this selection would so poignantly intersect with world events.  When one considers how the composer might view his birth country’s actions today, this performance takes on special significance.  Michael Slon, the Music Director and Conductor of both choruses performing in collaboration, offers the following thoughts:

At any moment, it’s a special experience to hear or perform Rachmaninoff’s extraordinary All-Night Vigil.  In the current historical moment, this timeless sacred music (sung in Church Slavonic) has further resonance – as a piece written in pre-Communist Russia, only to be banned with other sacred music by the Soviets; as a piece which has several movements based on Kyiv (Kiev) chant; as music drawing on roots deeper than contemporary political regimes, and composed by an artist forced by revolution to ultimately flee his country.”

Written in 1915 in the span of just two weeks and based in part on a variety of ancient liturgical chants, the work was one of Rachmaninoff’s personal favorites, and stands as one of the foremost pillars of large-scale a cappella choral music.  Scholar Glenn Watkins writes that “The spiritual beauty of the [All-Night Vigil] … invites interpretation as an oblique response to the sacrifices of the war years.”

This partnership of two choruses follows earlier collaborations, including 2015 performances of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Charlottesville Symphony.  The UVA University Singers is the University of Virginia’s flagship choral ensemble, heard by thousands each season in performances of a cappella and accompanied choral repertoire, including major works with orchestra.  In 2017, the group joined the Charlottesville Symphony on the steps of the Rotunda to perform for UVA’s Bicentennial Launch Celebration, before an estimated crowd of 20,000.  In recent years, the Singers have also sung for Les Misérables creators Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil during their UVA residencies, sung for the 2016 UVA Holiday greeting which received more than 400,000 views on social media, and taken a two-week concert tour of England, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Austria.  During the pandemic, they continued to present virtual performances, and hosted online master classes with Eric Whitacre, Alice Parker, and other choral luminaries. 

The Oratorio Society of Virginia is the region’s longest-running community chorus, inspiring others through quality musical performances and educational opportunities for more than fifty years.  In 2018, the ensemble gave the world premiere of Adolphus Hailstork’s The World Called (on Rita Dove’s poem “Testimonial”), a commission later featured on regional PBS.  Recent repertoire has also included works by Bach, Bernstein, Bonds, Finzi, Mozart, and Verdi, as well as seasonal selections at the ensemble’s popular Christmas at the Paramount concerts.  Recent collaborators have included the Charlottesville Ballet, Charlottesville Opera, Wintergreen Music Festival, and regional youth choruses, and the ensemble also offers an annual “Together in Song” event open to community singers, and benefitting local charities.  

Young Listener Policy

The Oratorio Society believes that there is no age at which you cannot be moved by beautiful choral music. Given the length and profundity of this particular performance, however, we do not recommend that children under 6 years of age attend this event in-person. If you are unsure whether your child will enjoy a 90-minute concert in a quiet listening environment, without intermission, we suggest that you consider our live stream option.

For more info visit: http://music.virginia.edu/usingers | https://www.oratoriosociety.org/

All programs are subject to change.

For more information please call the Department of Music at 434.924.3052 or write music@virginia.edu.



UVA Department of Music
112 Old Cabell Hall
P.O. Box 400176 Charlottesville, VA 22904-4176

Email: music@virginia.edu