PRINCETON UNIVERSITY GLEE CLUB PRESENTS: Out of the Deep: Russian Choral Music and the Basso Profundo Sunday, December 9 at 3PM in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall

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Out of the Deep: Russian Choral Music and the Basso Profundo

Sunday, December 9 at 3PM in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall


The Princeton University Glee Club has invited leading oktavists Vladimir Miller (Russia), Adrian Peacock (United Kingdom) and Glenn Miller (United States), to come together in an unprecedented gathering – the first time that three such legends of the basso profundo voice from the western and eastern traditions have combined in concert, in the United States. The student singers of the Princeton University Glee Club have spent the current semester learning about the Moscow Synodal tradition, mastering the challenges of the ‘church slavonic’ language, and preparing repertoire by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Kastalsky, Chesnokov, Gretchaninoff and Golovanov. In the first week of December, the three guest vocalists will arrive in Princeton for a week of intensive work with Princeton University students, in which they will lead rehearsals on December 3rd, 5th, 7th and 8th. During these rehearsals they will teach members of the Princeton University Glee Club to sing the Church Slavonic language, how to intone Znamenny and Kievan chant, and how to infuse Synodal repertoire with the rich vocal colors it needs to sound authentic. This work will culminate in a collaborative concert staged by the Glee Club, and featuring the three guest oktavists on Sunday, December 9 at 3PM in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall. A highlight of the concert will be the performance of Chesnokov’s famous work for choir and solo oktavist, “Do not reject me in my old age.” Tickets are only $15 General/$5 students, available at or by calling Princeton University Ticketing at 609-258-9220.

The Moscow Synodal School and the Russian Orthodox Chant tradition

The so-called “Moscow Synodal School” of Russian composers from Tchaikovsky to Rachmaninoff created some of the most iconic and distinctive choral music in the history of the genre. This music is descended directly from the chant traditions of the Russian Orthodox church, which typically feature the cavernous low bass voice of a ‘cantor’ who intones the melodies of Znamenny or Kievan chant, sung in the language which is unique to the Russian Orthodox church, known as ‘Church Slavonic’. This special tradition still exists today in the Russian heartlands of the Orthodox church, and in a few outposts around the world. The choral music of this tradition is instantly recognizable because it heavily features the same low bass lines which are associated with orthodox chant. This music is often attempted by the choirs of Western Europe and North America, but they can never achieve the authentic sound of the best Russian choirs because of the lack of real bassi profundi.

The unique sound of the ‘Oktavists’

There are very few genuine ‘oktavists’ (as these singers are often termed) in the world today. A website which is dedicated to the art – – lists all the great oktavists past and present, and the three who are invited for this project in Princeton – Vladimir Miller from Russia, Adrian Peacock from the UK, and Glenn Miller from the USA – are prominently featured. Vladimir Miller has been described as “the lowest bass in the world… the patriarch of ancient monastery singing in modern Russia” (Nizhny Novgorod Dioc. News, 2005) and a singer possessing “such depths… that are inaccessible to other Western European basses…” (Mendener Zeitung, 1994). Adrian Peacock, meanwhile, aside from being “the best known producer of choral music in the industry” (Gramophone Magazine), is “a real Russian-sounding bass… with a dark, bottomless voice and the requisite rough-hewn sound for this music…” (St Louis Post Dispatch, 2012); he was awarded a BBC Music Magazine Award for Technical Excellence in 2011, and has produced two grammy-winning CDs to date.


The Princeton University Glee Club, consisting of Princeton University’s most talented student singers, has been the largest choral body on campus since its inception in 1874 and has distinguished itself both nationally and overseas. The choir is directed by Gabriel Crouch and assistant conductor Stephanie Tubiolo.





Sunday, December 9, 2018 at 3PM


The Princeton University Glee Club is joined by three legends of the basso profundo voice – Vladimir Miller, Adrian Peacock, and Glenn Miller – for a concert of great Russian music.


Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall, Princeton University


$15 General; $5 Students. Tickets are available online at, by phone at 609-258-9220, or in person two hours prior to the concert at the Richardson Auditorium Box Office.


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