Diakonia Men’s Choir
The Diakonia Choir
The Diakonia Choir was organized in 2003 by singers living in San Francisco and the Bay Area who are devoted to church music. Beginning in 2001, the church of Christ the Saviour in San Francisco under Fr. Bazyl Kalinowski formed an ensemble of 5-6 men to sing the vigil service on a regular basis. They initially sang settings of the obikhod from Troitsky, Kiev and Pochaevsky Lavry, as well as works of Trubachev, Kastalskly and other well-known composers. Sergei Riabtchenko’s compositions began to appear in the repertory more and more often as time went on. That served as a starting point for the the idea of giving a concert including of these new works. Another six singers from different churches joined the ensemble and in 2004 the 12 singers presented their first concert in the Church of Christ the Saviour. This was the beginning of the Diakonia Choir.
Over following years, the composition of the choir changed considerably and now numbers 22-25 singers, including 4 members of the original group. The singers are enthusiastically devoted to and engaged in church music, and this certainly explains their sense of conviction and the vivid impression that every concert makes.
The choir sings the music of one composer, for the sole reason that he is so prolific that spending time to learn and perform works of other composers would mean that many works by Sergei would simply never be heard.
The unification of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia was an important event for the life of the choir. It fired up enthusiasm in church circles throughout San Francisco and the Bay Area. The choir presently has singers from the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), the Russian Orthodox Church, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, the Antiochian and Serbian jurisdictions.
Recent years have seen a huge recording effort resulting in 3 CDs. The first was devoted to the Liturgy and the All-Night Vigil. The second and third CDs feature excerpts from concert programs, emphasizing Christmas, Great Lent and Pascha, with the aim of giving a wider circle of listeners a feel for the choir’s concert performances. Audience response has been very strong, and the first and second CDs are no longer available.
Diakonia Choir in the News
Article from Russian Newspaper “Russian Life”
On Sunday, February 27, a concert of the Diakonia Choir took place in Carmelite Monastery at 721 Parker Avenue. The choir performed sacred choral works, composed by Sergei Riabtchenko, who is also the choir’s director. Riabtchenko received his musical education in Russia at the Moscow Conservatory in the cello and composition and upon arrival in the USA, along with performances as part of the Harlequin string quartet, he devoted himself to the study of sacred music. Since 1998, he has been the choir director of the mixed choir at Christ the Savior Church at 2040, Anza St. and since 2005, also of the male voice choir “Diakonia” which created on his initiative, began to give concerts of liturgical music in San Francisco and its environs.
The concert in the Carmelite monastery was a great success, which was greatly facilitated by the wonderful acoustics of the temple. The structure of the choir includes parishioners of Orthodox parishes from different jurisdictions, which are united by their love of church singing.
According to an already established custom, after a concert in the refectory at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, a reception was held where Galina Artamonova and members of sisterhoods from different parishes abundantly treated choir and guests to all kinds of delicious dishes.