When the Yale Russian Chorus reached out across the country to find interested audiences, St. Innocent Orthodox Church in Livermore responded.
"We are very excited to have the Yale chorus," said Susan Anderson, choir director at St. Innocent, who is arranging the visit. "If anyone is at all interested in a capella music or a male chorus or sacred music or Slavic things in general, it will be a great evening."
The program, "Let All Mortal Flesh: A Musical Journey in Celebration of Orthodox Lent," will begin at 7 p.m. tonight at the First Presbyterian Church, 2020 Fifth St., Livermore. The church, with its capacity for 450 guests, faceted glass windows and pipe organ, is a frequent venue for choral performances.
Despite coming from diverse backgrounds, the chorus members are united in their love of Slavic choral music and culture.
"This is an academic chorus, part of Yale University," Anderson said. "The kids are really great singers who aren't majoring in music but are looking for a chorus or they're Russian language students."
The Yale Russian Chorus was started in 1953 by Denis Mickiewicz and George Litton as an extension of Yale's Russian language club. Its repertoire ranges from the 12th to the 21st century, including sacred and secular music with ancient chant, cultural songs and major choral works by Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and Rachmaninoff.
Since Mark Bailey was appointed artistic director of the Yale Russian Chorus, it has performed in more than 50 major American cities, including twice at Carnegie Hall and at the White House.
"Conductor Mark Bailey, a violist, is an expert in early baroque music," Anderson said. "Often he has his group sing things the average person who knows Slavic music may not know."
The Yale Russian Chorus offered a secular or a sacred program, and St. Innocent chose to hear the sacred music. Anderson and other parishioners and music enthusiasts will host the 16 students in their homes.
"It's a rare occasion, to have an East Coast ivy league of this caliber come to the West Coast," Anderson said. "It is rare and very exciting."
Tickets are $20 for adults; $15, seniors; $10, students; children 12 and under are free but still need a ticket available at www.brownpapertickets.com/