Choral music is one of the most ancient forms of Russian music. The rich traditions of choral performance have long been established in music
Operas with social or national themes proved a fruitful ground for the development of choral art. In early Russian operas a great deal of attention was paid to choral scenes and in E.Fomin's opera "Coachmen at the Travellers' Inn" national song determines the entire dramatic idea.
The work of the composer M.Glinka heralded a new age in the development of Russian choral music in the world of opera, absorbing as it did the virtues of previous generations and serving as a source for the development of choral music in the work of future composers. The international significance of Russian opera was firmly established by the composers A.Borodin, M.Mussorgsky, N.Rimsky-Korsakov and P.Tchaikovsky. The rich and complex nature of life, embodied by the work of these composers corresponds to the diverse types of operatic works and musical drama in general.
From the second half of the 18th century an Italian opera company performed in the Bolshoy theatre in St Petersburg. With the opening of the Mariinsky theatre in 1860, a permanent Russian opera company was established, the most important component of which was the choir.
E. Napravnik played a special role in the establishment and development of Russian operatic and choral art - his career saw the staging of famous Russian operas and the widening of the theatre's repertoire. Thanks to the great skills of the choirmasters K.Kucheri, I.Pomazankovo, E.Azyeyeva and G.Kazachenko the Petersburg opera had an exceptional choir which produced a uniquely beautiful and moving sound.
Nowadays the choir not only demonstrates a wide range of sound, but also a high degree of professional skill.
Apart from participation in operatic performances, the choir also performs independently. Its repertoire includes: "Te Deum", the oratorio "Condemnation of Faust" and the symphony "Romeo and Juliet" by G.Berlioz; "Little Wedding" and the cantata "Starlike Face" by S.Stravinsky; S.Prokofiev's oratorio "Ivan the Terrible", also his cantatas "Alexander Nevsky", "To the 20th Anniversary of October" and "The Toast"; Symphony ü 3 and ü 13 by D.Shostakovich, A.Schriabin's "Prometey"; Mahler's 2nd and 3d Symphonies; G.Verdi's "Requiem" and S.Rachmaninov's "The Bells" and "All-night Vigil".