The Yale Russian Chorus has enjoyed five successful trips to the Soviet Union and three tours of Europe. But the thirty or so students, faculty, and alumni of Yale carried off their most challenging mission in cultural exchange last Saturday night. Few would have guessed that Yalies would receive a standing ovation and demands for half a dozen encores, from a Harvard audience.
What captured Sanders was an evening of Russian songs sung with great dash, accuracy, and humor under the direction of Denis Mickeiwicz. The chorus sang liturgical music, including a magnificent chant from the Kievo-Pechersky Monastery. It sang selections from Russian operas, familiar folk tunes ( Metelitsa, Kalinka ) and unfamiliar folk tunes.
Indeed, it seemed as if the chorus could do anything. Its tenors ascended with assurance and clarity to the C above middle C; its basses descended at least to the C below the staff. The great variety in voice timbres added interest to the solos, sung by nearly a dozen of the chorus members, but did not preclude balanced and homogeneous chords that faded softly away or roared with energy.
Most impressive were the rhythmic vivacity and metric nimbleness of the performance. They seemed to derive from the darting dance of the director, who stood, without podium or score, in the center of the semicircle of singers and lunged at each vocal line as it materalized in the air.