Russian Boy Choir Costumes

Figure 1.--Choristers at Moscow Boys' Choir wear tuxedo-like black suits.

HBC has very limited information on the Orthodox choral tradition. We do know that there were choirs before the Revolution. Rich noblemen are known to have maintained boy choirs. After the Bolshevicks seized power in 1917, church boys' choirs were no longer possible as the Church was not allowed to prostelize among young people. There is a long tradition of classical music in Russia which was also promoted by the Soviet Union. There were thus some seccular choirs, although HBC has as yet little information on them. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, there has been some increased interest in liturgical music. Several choirs now exist in Russia. HBC has noted choirs in both Moscow and St. Petersburg, but there may be others as well.


HBC has very limited information on the Orthodox choral tradition. We do know that there were choirs before the Revolution. Rich noblemen are known to have maintained boy choirs in the 18th century, just when this tradition or what the association was with incividual churches, we do not know. After the Bolsheviks seized power (1917), church boys' choirs were no longer possible as the Church was not allowed to prostelize among young people. There is a long tradition of classical music in Russia which was promoted by the Soviet Union. Just when this began we are unsure. There were thus some secular choirs, although HBC has as yet little information on them. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, there has been some increased interest in liturgical music. We are not sure about the situation in modern Russia regarding boy choirs.

Individual Choirs

Some information is available on several different Russian choirs. We are unsure if there were any important biys' choirs during the Tsarist era, but several were organized during the Soviet era. We are not sure about the early Soviet era, but we have found several choirs during the later Soviet era. This means of course that there were no church supported schools. The Soviets were very sessative about church activuties affecting young people. Rather the Soviet-era choirs seem to be orimarily civic municipal institutions, thus we see big city (Moscow and Lenningrad/St. Petersburg) chouis. A TV station also seems to have organized a choir. This was not common in the West, but se do see a Japanese television station doing this. WE also note what looks like a performance group, but this also would have been a state-supported activity.

Big Russian Choir of Russian TV and Radio

We note Big Children Choir of Russian (formerly Soviet) TV and Radio. We note the choir operating as early as 1970, but we are nor sure when the Choir was actually founded. Nor do we have any information on the history of the Choir. As far as we can tell, the Choir was sponsored by the Soviet state-owned television and radio network. We do not know much about Russian television and radio. Under the Soviet Union there could be no private media. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, private media outlets were created, including television, radio, and publications. President Putin has been steadily returning the private media to state control. We believe that this Choir continues to be sponsored by state-owned Russian TV and Radio. The children involved look to range from about 7-15 years of age. There look to be two different choirs separated by age. One choir looks to have children about 7-10 years of age. Another looks to have children about 11-15 yeatrs of age. This is, however, only a rough guess based on available photographs. We areunsure about the size of the choirs, but they look to have about 25-30 children in each age group. We have no information on where the Choir is located, but assume it is St. Petersburhg or Moscow. No information is available on the selection or training of the children involved in the Choir. It does not look to be a Chour trained in a boarding school, but we have no details on this. It is a mixed Choir with both boys and girls partiipating. We do not have details on the type of muic the children sing. They of course appear on television of radio. We note live prerformances as well, but are not sure where these performanes are held. Some photographs show them performing in very elaborate theaters. We note trips both to other areas of the Soviet Union/Russia as well as foreign countries. We note one trip to China in 1980. The children appear in a variety of uniforms. The uniforms for the boys and girls are different, but coordinated. We note a variety of uniforms worn by the children. The uniforms for the two age groups choirs are very different. We note several styles of uniforms. The younger boys generally wear vests and matching short pants with white ankle socks. The older boys wear jackets and long pants. They also have a Russian folk costume. All of the children during Soviet times wore red scarves. The Choir appears to have attended Young Pioneer camps together where they wore the standard Pioneer uniform. The Choir has an extensive internet website. It is in Russia, however, so we have not been able to lear much about the Choir's history or activities.

Lenningrad Boy Choir

Pictured on a 1987 PBS special about visiting story tellers from the United States. They wore dark suits. Presumably the choir has now changed its name if it still exists.

Leningrad Radio and Television Children's Choir

Sings both Russian and Western works. Presumably the choir has now changed its name if it still exists. This may be the Big Russian Choir of Russian TV and Radio Choir described above, we are not sure yet.

Figure 2.--Choristers at Moscow Boys' Choir wear tuxedo-like black suits.

Moscow Boys Choir

The Moscow Boys Choir is a careful blend of heavenly soprano voices with the rich resonance of bass, tenor and baritone sound that brings a distinct Russian flavor to the choral experience. Founded in 1957 this choral ensemble is among Russia's most prestigious all-boy choirs. Under the direction of Mrs. Ninel Kamburg, who has guided the Choir since 1966, the boys attend a special school which provides both general education and musical training. Being selected as a member of the touring company of the Moscow Boys Choir is no easy feat. Hand-picked from over 400 students at their school in Moscow, these highly talented youngsters have the voices of angels and the discipline to match their talents. Their hard work has gained them a reputation for excellence, as they have successfully toured across Russia, Europe and the US.

The Moscow Boys Choir enjoys an international reputation for excellence. They have appeared in Command Performance at The Royal Albert Hall in London for members of the British Royal Family. In addition to many North American Tours, the Choir has toured France, Germany, Italy, Belgium and Holland, where they performed in the Stanislavsky Theatre's opera production of Boris Godunov by Mussorgsky. They are very active in Choral Festivals, performing in the Moscow Music Festival dedicated to Contemporary Russian Music as well as the International Festival of Boys Choirs. These performances are in addition to appearances at the Bolshoi Theatre, the Moscow Conservatory's Great Hall and, finally, at the Kremlin, where they were honored in performance with the Presidential Orchestra. They were featured in the Russian National Cinema Awards and the 850th Anniversary of the founding of Moscow, events which only the most popular performers in Russia are invited to participate. They are featured regularly on Russian television and have been honored to perform on Rev. Robert Schuler's Hour of Power program where they were seen internationally by millions of TV viewers.

Figure 3.--The Moscow Boys' Choir also has a folk costume of Russian blouses which they wear for performances.

There are also some press assessments available:

"The finely blended, exquisitely balanced MOSCOW BOYS CHOIR can sing with as much delicacy as anyone, but no other ensemble can sound this strong!" St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"If indeed there is such a thing as a heavenly chorus, it must sound like THE MOSCOW BOYS CHOIR!" St. Joseph News & Press

"THE MOSCOW BOYS CHOIR gave an articulate, polished and precise performance of a challenging and varied program. A superb blend and the kind of ensemble cohesiveness that comes from years of working together made them soar!" Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

"At last night's performance by THE MOSCOW BOYS CHOIR, the packed auditorium was filled with an audience of several hundred listener's--all of different ages. And what an experience it was! Discipline, precision and poise were the hallmarks of the evening's performance with solos so exquisite, it brought tears to a few eyes." Des Moines Register

"With close and smoothly flowing inner harmonies, THE MOSCOW BOYS CHOIR illustrates it's talents and skills at their very best." Anchorage Daily News

The Moscow Boys' Choir performs in formal black tuxedos with white bow ties. They also have folk costumes of white Russian blouses with fancy collars.

Figure 4.--The St. Petersburg choir has a uniform of black trousers, bright blue jackets, and large white collars.

St. Petersburg Choir

The St. Petersburg boys choir was founded in 1991 by 24 years old Wadim Ptscholkin former student at the renowned Glinka choir school and includes a music school where about 400 children receive a high quality instrumental and vocal education. The boys choir itself counts 70 boys aged 8 to 12 and gives concerts in Russia, Germany and Netherlands. Particular attention is given to the voice training, following the example of world famous Wiener Sngerknaben, with the result that this choir has several soloists with extraordinary voices. In a recent national choir contest two of these won the 1st and 2nd prizes and the choir itself for the fifth consecutive year was rewarded first rank. The choir is of course named after the Rusian city of St. Petersburg. One has to bear in mind the hectic story of that famed Russian city, rich of an exceptional historical and artistic past, founded in 1703 by tsar Peter-the-Great as Saint-Petersburg, in 1914 the revolution changed name to Petrograd, then in 1924 it became Leningrad to finally retrieve it's original name with the end of the Soviet era.

V. Loktev: Singing and Dancing Ensemble

A Russian reader mentions the .. (Singing and Dancing Ensemble of V. Loktev. We have little information on the group other than it was active in Moscow during the 1970s. As the name suggests, it was a performing ensemble and not just a choir. Both boys and girls participated. The uniform was a blue closed front vest worn with matching short pants or skirts.


Some information about early Russian choirs is available in a book written by Aleksandr Nikitenko in the 19th century. He was born into a serf family, but his life was different than millions of others because his father as a boy in the late 18thbcentury had been sent to Moscow to sing in the choir land owners choir and had received an education. He spent the rest of his life struggling against his serf status. His son Aleksandr wrote the book describing his boyhood struggles as a serf.

Choir Types

We have noted several different types of choirs in Russia. Our information, however, is very limited. Hopefully our Russian readers will provide us more information here. We do not know of any church choirs, atleast in the modern era. We are less sure about Tsarist Russia. Rich nobelmen seem to have organized choirs, we think for religious ceremonies and events, but here our information is very limited. The principal type of boy choirs during the Soviet era was civic or municipal choirs. Yhese seem to be boy choirs. I do not know if there wee also girl choirs organized by these municipalities. We also notice a state-supported performance choir. The Soviet state supported culture and this appears to have been thecgenesis of several choirs. We also notice school choirs. Here we do not yet know much about choral programs in schools. These as far as we can tell or mixed boy-gir choirs. We suspect that there may have been Young Pioneer choirs, but we do not yet have any information on this. These probably are also mixed choirs.



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Created: November 1, 2000
Last updated: 12:36 PM 11/5/2008