Moscow Synodal Choir

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The Moscow Synodal Choir (Московский Синодальный хор), founded 1721, was the choir attached to the Moscow Synodal School prior to its dissolution and merger into the choral faculty of the Moscow Conservatory in 1919. The choir was revived in 1999.[1]


The basis of the Synodal Choir was the Russian Patriarchal choir formed in the 16th Century of adult clerics. Following the abolition of the Patriarchate in 1700, the choir became known as the "Cathedral Choir" (соборный хор) attached to the Assumption Cathedral of the Kremlin. Following the establishment of the Holy Synod in 1710, the choir officially became known as the Moscow Synodal Choir. Soon after this boy sopranos and contraltos joined the choir to perform the new polyphonic music.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, the Synodal Choir was a rival in terms of skill and performance to the Tsar’s own chorus of clerical singers, the Russian Imperial Chapel Choir, which moved from Moscow to the new capital in St Petersburg in 1712.

Alexander Kastalsky (Александр Дмитриевич Кастальский, 1856–1926) was the last director of the school and choir. In 1887 Kastal'sky began teaching piano at the Synodal School, in 1891 he became assistant precentor of the Synodal choir then in 1910 director.[2] In 1910 the Moscow Synodal Choir celebrated its bicentennial under the conductor Nikolai Danilin (Николай Михайлович Данилин, 1878–1945) conducting the first performance of Rachmaninov's Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom Op.31.

In 1919 the Moscow Synodal School was dissolved and merged into the Moscow Conservatory, the Choir ceased to perform sacred music and the boy sopranos were released, though Kastalsky continued to perform folk music with the choir till 1923.

The Moscow Synodal Choir was revived with the blessing of Kirill I, Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus', under the conductor Aleksei Puzakov (Алексей Пузаков), People's Artist of Russia, in 2009.[3]

The choir is to be distinguished from the Russian Patriarchate Choir under Anatoly Grindenko (Анатолий Гринденко).

Selected discography[edit]

  • Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev (1966). De Profundis. Compositions for orchestra and choir. Stabat Mater, Concerto grosso, Fugue on the B-A-C-H motif, Canciones de la muerte, De profundis. Moscow Synodal Choir, Russian National Orchestra. Conducted by Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev. PENTATONE PTC 5186486 (2015).


  1. ^ Article (Russian)
  2. ^ Svetlana Georgievna Zvereva Alexander Kastalsky: his life and music
  3. ^ LA Times "Choir gives voice to lost tradition" Feb. 19 1999