Eng Cn Translate this page:
Please select your language to translate the article


You can just close the window to don't translate
Library
Your profile

Back to contents

PHILHARMONICA. International Music Journal
Reference:

The relevance and specificity of using choral works by modern composers in the class of choral conducting

Movchan Larisa Anatol'evna

Professor, Department of Choral Conducting, Moscow State P.I. Tchaikovsky Conservatory

125009, Russia, Moscow, Bolshaya Nikitskaya str., 13

movchanlarser@mail.ru
Other publications by this author
 

 
Movchan Sergei Mikhailovich

assistant professor, Department of Choral Conducting, Moscow State P.I. Tchaikovsky Conservatory

125009, Russia, Moscow, Bolshaya Nikitskaya str., 13

movchanlarser@mail.ru

DOI:

10.7256/2453-613X.2024.1.70025

EDN:

IDONNY

Received:

01-03-2024


Published:

21-03-2024


Abstract: In the article, the author addresses the issue of the repertoire of choral groups in the class specializing in Choral conducting. Works for a cappella choir have been one of the leading genres in the works of many modern composers for several decades. The popularity of secular choral music is associated with the development of collective musical education in educational institutions, as well as with the active participation of vocal ensembles in concerts, competitions and festivals. Spiritual compositions are also heard no less often, which is explained by the desire of composers and performers for spiritual pursuits that revived at the end of the twentieth century. Modern choral works use various innovative technologies that present a technical difficulty and require a certain methodological approach. The performance of works of this kind has a beneficial effect on improving the level of singing skills and professional competencies of future singers and choral conductors. The educational repertoire of choral students and the list of choral works performed by vocal groups at concerts/competitions/festivals have little overlap. If concert performers increasingly include music by contemporary authors in their program, then classical music still makes up a larger percentage of the repertoire in educational institutions. The following conclusions can be drawn from the study. Works for a cappella choir have been one of the leading genres in the works of many modern composers for several decades. The popularity of secular choral music is associated with the development of collective musical education in educational institutions, as well as with the active participation of vocal ensembles in concerts, competitions and festivals. Religious compositions are also heard no less often, which is explained by the desire of composers and performers for spiritual pursuits that revived at the end of the twentieth century. Updating the repertoire plays an important role in the education of music students. This is not only the study of innovative ideas of modern composers, the use of innovative technologies in teaching, but also the moral and ethical side. We have noted that in the music of the XXI century, the tendency to reflect reality and its constant changes is often applied. The performance of works of this kind has a beneficial effect on improving the level of singing skills and professional competencies of future singers and choral conductors.


Keywords:

choral conductin, contemporary repertoire, composer, choir, training, choir group, composition, repertoire, methodology, professional education

This article is automatically translated. You can find original text of the article here.

In modern music pedagogy, the art of collective music making occupies one of the most important places. It exists not only as a specialty (instrumental ensembles, children's and youth orchestras, choral classes; opera classes are also available in universities and colleges), but also as part of other, more broad-profile subjects. For example, solfeggio lessons cannot do without singing together. Instrumental ensembles are also present on them let's recall K. Orff's methodology with its noise orchestras.

However, vocal groups are much more relevant in this regard. The composers of the XX early XXI century created a lot of choral music of different genres and styles, having a different texture, voice range; intended for different performing compositions. It is mandatory to study choral compositions in the choral conducting class. This is primarily an analysis of scores, which is necessary for a student of this specialty to correctly identify conducting gestures. The conductor's tasks also include the selection of a repertoire for a singing group, which requires a high level of knowledge in the field of choral art.

The methodological problem posed in the article states the following fact. The educational repertoire of choral students and the list of choral works performed by vocal groups at concerts/competitions/festivals have little overlap. If concert performers increasingly include music by contemporary authors in their program, then classical music still makes up a larger percentage of the repertoire in educational institutions.

The purpose of the article is to draw attention to the actualization of the works of modern composers in the educational process of students of choral departments of music universities.

Tasks:

- to review the choral work of composers of the late XX early XXI century;

- to get acquainted with innovative techniques in the field of expressive means of musical language;

- to determine the role of modern academic music in the educational process.

The object of the research is to work with students of choral departments of musical educational institutions. The subject of the study is the use of works by contemporary composers in teaching choral students.

The main research method used in the article was the theoretical method of holistic and stylistic analysis.

Research materials. We turned to the works of such musicologists as E. Batovskaya [1], A. Vyaznikov [2], T. Zhurbinskaya [4], A. Uvarova and S. Bozhko [11]. The article also reviewed choral works by contemporary composers written in the period from the late 1990s to the present [8].

The choral work of composers of the second half of the XX beginning of the XXI century is extensive, but not all authors become popular in the performing repertoire of choral groups. This is due to the fact that some avant-garde composers create works with complex harmonic language, rhythm, texture, etc.

Among the composers of the XX XXI century who created works for chorus, one can name V. Gavrilin, G. Sviridov, A. Schnittke, R. Shchedrin, E. Podhaits, G. Struve, R. Boyko, A. Larin, A. Tchaikovsky. Among the younger authors, we will mention A. Ananyev, A. Viskov, K. Bodrov. The harmonic language of the choral works of these authors is distinguished by aesthetic expressiveness, comprehensibility for perception and performance. However, along with traditional tonal music, there is a place for modern visual media in their work.

The masters use in their music not only the extended tonality characteristic of the turn of the millennium, artificial frets, signs of authentic folklore, but also completely new techniques. "The modern choral score increasingly includes various effects (sound, light) and non-traditional performing techniques, etc. Therefore, choral music of our time often remains misunderstood and difficult to perceive" [2, pp. 99-102].

Sound effects are used, for example, by Gavrilin in "Chimes" and "War Letters"; Shchedrin in "Bells". Boyko has authentic folk melodies in his cantata Vyatka Songs. Also, you can add Larin's oratorio "Russian Passions" to this list here, as in Boyko's cantata, there are features of authentic folklore, in particular crying, lamentation. The composition of the instrumental accompaniment of this oratorio is also interesting: the composer included a flexaton, a rattle, a tambourine, Valdai bells and church bells. One of the instruments "invented by the composer himself is a monetophone, a small wooden box with coins placed in it" [7]. V. Kikta in his "Transcarpathian triptych" uses the timbre of a boys' choir and a piccolo flute.

Due to the renewal of the musical language, the use of complex harmonic, textured and metrorhythmic techniques in the choral works of composers of the early 21st century, there is a need to improve the conducting technique and expand the possibilities of the voice. These features also play a role in the correct selection of the repertoire. "The head should always keep in mind the capabilities of a particular team, its qualitative composition" [10, pp. 80-82]

Intonation in modern music is also subject to significant complications. Dissonances, unprepared detentions, combinations of homophony and polyphony, and a sharp contrast between syllabic and melismatic singing styles are often present in the works of young composers. This is often due to the spread of the tendency to follow the musical text for the content and form of the poetic text (which is often free, sometimes without rhymes for example, a subscript translation from a foreign language).

This is especially striking in the choral work of E. Podhaits. One of the principles of the composer is to use such texts that have a close, harmonious connection with musical drama. It is transmitted not only through ladoharmonic and intonational components, but is also present in metrorhythmic nuances [see about this: 13, p. 11].

Sonoristics, aleatorics, and partly synesthetic onomatopoeia are very characteristic of choral music by composers of the third millennium: for example, it can draw images of nature, emotions and feelings of lyrical characters. In modern musical art, the novelty of these techniques lies in the fact that they also convey the surrounding atmosphere, the variability and impermanence of the real world. This is important, including not only for musical, but also for moral education, since the reflection of what is happening in music can be interpreted as a response to the ability to adapt to the instability of surrounding realities. An example is the choral works by contemporary young composers written in the 2010s and early 2020s and compiled the two-volume "Voices of the Premieres". The music following the poetic text is used in the chorus "In the State of Shadows" by N. Saikovich (2008); innovative sound effects are found in the work "Miracle Mirror" by V. Zaitseva (2014). The second part of the collection ends with S. Levin's essay "Ce la faremo", written in 2022. It was a response to one of the dramatic events in modern history the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The author himself writes the following in the annotation to the work:

"I wrote the piece Ce la faremo in 2020 for piano. Do you remember that Italy was the first in Europe to encounter a new virus that came from Wuhan, China. At that time, I really wanted to join the fight against this ill-fated virus with the help of music, and I turned to a friend of the poet Julia Pikalova, who lives in Italy, with a request to offer me a suitable phrase in Italian, which would contain the maximum number of letter designations of notes. She immediately offered a short and succinct phrase Ce la faremo, which means "we will cope", "we will overcome". There were five notes in it at once: C (to) | E (mi) | La | Fa Re. These notes make up the musical phrase, which is invariably repeated throughout the piece" [8, p. 82].

It should be noted that the newest, recent compositions for choir with their difficult musical language are popular at concerts, but have not yet mastered the repertoire of educational institutions. They can and should be included in the student education program. However, it is important to study choral music that is more traditional in terms of the composer's style: with a predominance of consonant consonances, homophonic texture, rhythmic poetic text, and a relatively homogeneous way of performance. Such are, for example, the choral works by R. Boyko based on poems by A. Pushkin, F. Tyutchev, S. Yesenin.

To broaden the musical horizons of students, different genres of both secular and sacred music are used. Modern composers have many works of the spiritual genre, among which there are prayers and chants to canonical texts. They can be performed not only during church services, but also in concerts. Among those suitable for concert performance, the researcher of choral music S. Khvatova notes the following religious works of our contemporaries: "To the Lady of the Blessed" by L. Blinov, "Concert from the Lenten Triodion" by V. Dovgan, "10 spiritual Chants", "6 spiritual chants" by N. Karetnikov, "The Penitential Psalm of St. Dmitry Rostovsky", "The Song of the Most Holy Theotokos", "Many Summers" by V. Kikta, "Holy Russia" and "Spiritual Triptych" by A. Kulygin, "4 spiritual Chants" and "6 fragments of the All-Night Vigil" by H. Ledenev, "My Soul" by Y. Machine, "Trisagion" and "The Lord's Prayer" by I. Matsievsky, "Psalms of King David" by E. Podhaits, "3 spiritual Chants" and "8 spiritual Chants" by A. Ryndin, "Six Liturgical Chants" by V. Ryabov, "Three Choirs to cult texts" by V. Sokolov, "Prayer" by Y. Falik, "Seven Chants to the texts of Vespers" by H. Hodosh, "Six spiritual hymns" and "From the first epistle of the Holy Apostle Paul to the Coryphenians" by A. Eshpai, "Cherubic Song" and "Symbol of Faith" by B. Tselkovnikov" [13, p. 33]. However, there are works on spiritual subjects that were not created based on canonical texts, for example, choirs based on poems by Russian poets: "Eight spiritual choirs in memory of B. Pasternak" by A. Korolev, "Prayer" by M. Stavisky, "Concert for Choir based on poems by G. Narekazzi" by A. Schnittke, choral opuses by A. Eshpai, N. Ledenev, V. Dovgan, V. Kikta and many other authors.

The heyday of sacred music in the works of composers of the late XX early XXI century can rightfully be called the "second religious Renaissance" (by analogy with what happened at the beginning of the twentieth century in the works of N. Rimsky-Korsakov, A. Grechaninov, S. Rachmaninov, S. Taneev, P. Chesnokov, A. Kastalsky). The most important historical date had the greatest influence on him the 1000th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus, celebrated in 1988. The Soviet ideology significantly complicated the spiritual quest in Russian art, but did not interrupt them. A special place in the religious musical culture of our time is occupied by Sviridov's pupil, composer A. Viskov (born 1965). He collaborates with the Blagovest Sacred Music Ensemble, for which he wrote a number of hymns of the Liturgy and the All-Night Vigil. This composer also explores Russian folklore, primarily spiritual poems; participates in the restoration of unfinished scores by authors of past eras.

It is impossible to ignore the experimental genre that has penetrated into modern choral art. For example, the choral music of the Ukrainian composer V. Manzhil differs in innovative moods. "Masterfully using traditional means of expression, the composer captures in his works the acutely perceived atmosphere of our time. Choral opuses by V. Manzhil represent innovative and experimental achievements in the field of "modern musical phonetics" and pointillistic technique" [1, pp. 65-69]. In the work of this author, such techniques are used as a combination of traditional and modernist performance; elements of performance (interaction of performers and listeners, a different perception of reality, a new look at aesthetics). In general, polystylistics, which originated in Schnittke's work, is still very popular with composers.

The repertoire of students of choral departments is constantly, although not quickly, replenished with similar works. The main principle of choosing the compositions performed is the variety of genres, forms, and styles characteristic of the music of the turn of the XX XXI centuries. Choirmaster students scrupulously study the author's text (compositional and poetic), delving into the peculiarities of the musical language and organically combining the performing interpretation with the author's.

The choral work of foreign composers is also not ignored in Russian musical educational institutions. These are authors from Europe, as well as the USA, China, Japan, and the Philippines. Their music is often played at international choral competitions. Let us note the following feature of foreign choral creativity: "Composers do not just take into account the technical capabilities of singers and, in principle, the human voice, but also keep in mind the difficulty levels of the musical material that they will offer amateur groups to perform" [9, p. 1].

Traditionally, the works of both Russian and foreign masters are intended for a cappella performance; it is also not uncommon to use instrumental accompaniment. At the same time, sound effects, sonoristics, which were mentioned above, can be present in both the orchestral and vocal parts. Thus, the expansion of the choral repertoire and the inclusion of modern works with new visual techniques opens the way to the active use of modern teaching methods (including innovative digital technologies). They are used in the training of both singers and instrumentalists.

Do not forget about the aesthetics of the texture. A combination of complex polyphonic imitations with characteristic features of the Russian drawl song and sub-vocal polyphony is found in R. Shchedrin's choral fugues. The composer actually fulfilled M. Glinka's dream he united Western European and domestic polyphony "by the bonds of a legitimate marriage". Modern choral music, especially spiritual music, is also characterized by meditativeness and contemplation. As an example, we can recall the chorus parts in K. Bodrov's masses.

Nowadays, composers are increasingly adding electronic instruments to ordinary acoustic instruments, one of such authors is A. Kiselyov (1948-2020). He is also known for a number of Orthodox vocal and choral works: "Hail to the Virgin Mary," the cycle "The Weeks of A. S. Pushkin" based on the poems of the great Russian poet. At one of the composer's anniversary concerts, his "All-Night Vigil Chant" was performed. The use of organ and string orchestra in choral compositions on spiritual subjects is present in the works of A. Ananyev "Renovatio mundi" ("Rebirth of the World") for soloists, mixed choir and organ and "Prayer of the Holy Prince Andrei Bogolyubsky" for mixed choir and string orchestra.

The following conclusions can be drawn from the study. Works for a cappella choir have been one of the leading genres in the works of many modern composers for several decades. The popularity of secular choral music is associated with the development of collective musical education in educational institutions, as well as with the active participation of vocal ensembles in concerts, competitions and festivals. Religious compositions are also heard no less often, which is explained by the desire of composers and performers for spiritual pursuits that revived at the end of the twentieth century.

The capabilities of the human voice allow composers to apply various innovative technologies in choral music. First of all, these are non-trivial combinations of cantilena and recitative, syllabics and melismatics, singing and melodrama (speech to music). Greater diversity in the sound background is achieved with the participation of instruments both acoustic and electronic. However, these techniques are also possible in works performed unaccompanied.

Updating the repertoire, enriching it with works from the turn of the millennium plays an important role in the education of students of musical universities. This is not only the study of innovative ideas of modern composers, the use of innovative technologies in teaching, but also the moral and ethical side. We have noted that in the music of the XXI century, the tendency to reflect reality and its constant changes is often applied. The performance of works of this kind has a beneficial effect on improving the level of singing skills and professional competencies of future singers and choral conductors.

References
1. Batovskaya, E. (2015). Experimental trends in modern choral creativity. South Russian Musical Almanac, 2(19), 65-69.
2. Vyaznikov, A.V. (2015). Choral music of modern Russian composers in the choral conducting class. Current problems of the humanities and natural sciences, 4, 99-102.
3. Dynnik, M. (2004). Modern choral music in the content of education of students of music faculties of pedagogical universities. Dis. kand. ped. nauk. Moscow.
4. Zhurbinskaya, T. (2018). An anthology of modern choral music by Russian composers. Chamber Choir of the Moscow Conservatory, conductor Alexander Solovyov (CD annotation, Melodiya company). Musical Life. Retrieved from https://muzlifemagazine.ru/antologiya-sovremennoy-khorovoy-muzyk/
5. Koshkareva, N. (2022). Russian theme in the polyphonic space of a cappella choral creativity by R. Shchedrin (on the 90th anniversary of the composer’s birth). Art education and science. Memorable dates. Anniversaries, 4, 172-180.
6. Krivitskaya, E. (2023). Choral music of modern composers was performed in St. Petersburg. Nezavisimaya Gazeta. Culture.
7. Larin, A. L. (2019). Oratorio “Russian Passions”. Musical Seasons. Retrieved from https://musicseasons.org/aleksej-lvovich-larin-oratoriya-russkie-strasti/
8. Levin, S. (2023). “Ce la faremo” – “We can handle it”. The second project-festival of choral music of contemporary composers “Voices of the Premiers”. Moscow.
9. Roganova, I. (2016). Modern foreign choral composers.A short guide for conductors. Retrieved from http://www.choirlab.ru/upl/files/sprav-v1.pdf
10. Stepina, N., & Agibalova, O. (2019). Works of modern composers in the repertoire of the choir. Karelian scientific journal, 4, 80-82.
11. Uvarova, A.V., & Bozhko, S.O. (2022). Features and techniques of performing vocal and choral music of the “new” time. Current research, 9, 46-48.
12. Khvatova, S. (2011). Orthodox singing tradition at the turn of the XX-XXI centuries. Diss. ... dr. isk. R.-on-Don.
13. Chelmakina, M. (2022). Efrem Podgaits.“Take comfort, my soul” to the poems of G. Falkovich. Questions of interpretation.Reader with methodological explanations. Moscow: AHI im.V. S. Popova, 10-14.

Peer Review

Peer reviewers' evaluations remain confidential and are not disclosed to the public. Only external reviews, authorized for publication by the article's author(s), are made public. Typically, these final reviews are conducted after the manuscript's revision. Adhering to our double-blind review policy, the reviewer's identity is kept confidential.
The list of publisher reviewers can be found here.

The paper "The relevance and specificity of the use of choral works by contemporary composers in the specialty class" is presented for review. The subject of the study. The work is aimed at considering the use of works by contemporary composers in teaching choral students. The author has completed the following tasks: to review the choral work of composers of the late XX early XXI century; to familiarize with innovative techniques in the field of expressive means of musical language; to determine the role of modern academic music in the educational process. In general, the author presented his own understanding of this issue and achieved his goal. The methodology of the research is the work considering the peculiarities of the preparation of students of choral departments of music universities. The main research method used in the article is the theoretical method of holistic and stylistic analysis. The relevance of the research is determined by the fact that it is important to pay attention to the actualization of the works of modern composers in the educational process of students of choral departments of music universities. The scientific novelty of the research lies in the fact that the author highlights the main directions of updating the repertoire in the educational process of students of choral departments of music universities. Style, structure, content. The style of presentation corresponds to publications of this level. The language of the work is scientific. The structure of the work is not clearly traced. The author has not highlighted the main semantic parts. The introduction identifies the problem of research and its relevance. The author notes that the methodological problem states the following fact. The educational repertoire of choral students and the list of choral works performed by vocal groups at concerts/competitions/festivals have little overlap. In the event that concert performers increasingly include music by contemporary authors in their program, then classical music still makes up a larger percentage of the repertoire in educational institutions. The introduction outlines the purpose, objectives, object and method of the study. The second section is devoted to the description of the research materials. The author analyzed the works of such musicologists as E. Batovskaya, A. Vyaznikov, T. Zhurbinskaya, A. Uvarova, S. Bozhko. The article also reviewed choral works by contemporary composers written in the period from the late 1990s to the present. In addition, the works of V. Gavrilin, G. Sviridov, A. Schnittke, R. Shchedrin, E. Podhaits, G. Struve, R. Boyko, A. Larin, A. Tchaikovsky and others are considered. Along with traditional tonal music, there is a place for modern visual media in their work. Special attention is paid to the consideration of the choral work of E.Podhaits. The next section is devoted to describing ways to expand the musical horizons of students through the use of different genres of both secular and sacred music. The correct selection of the repertoire of students of choral departments is important. The conducted research allowed the author to summarize and draw a number of conclusions. Bibliography. The bibliography of the article includes 14 domestic sources, a small part of which have been published in the last three years. The list contains mainly articles and abstracts. In addition, there are also dissertations, monographs, dictionaries, methodological and educational manuals, as well as online publications. The sources are designed incorrectly and heterogeneously. Appeal to opponents. Recommendations: - structure the work by highlighting the introduction, main parts and conclusions; - make reasoned and generalized conclusions at the end of the article; - to provide recommendations based on the results of the conducted research; - to issue a bibliographic list in accordance with the requirements. Conclusions. The problems of the article are of undoubted relevance, theoretical and practical value; it will be of interest to specialists who deal with the problems of training students of choral departments of music universities. The article may be recommended for publication, it is important to take into account the highlighted recommendations. This makes it possible to submit to the editorial board a research article that is characterized by scientific novelty and significance.