Wednesday 19th  December  2012 at 8.30pm

Concert: Les Cosaques du Don

Saint Cyprien village church


Les Cosaques du Don


Free concert with Les Cosaques du Don and the Tutti Canti choir at the village church. The choir of Les Cosaques du Don was founded in 1921 by Serge Jaroff,  composed of exiled Russian Cossacks. Serge Jaroff has directed the choir for nearly sixty years, a singing group recognized for the quality of its tenor and depth of its bass. A quality concert not to miss!

More info: 04 68 21 01 33



Origins at Çilingir internment camp

After suffering total defeat at the hands of the Red Army, many Cossacks ended up in the diaspora. In 1921 it was with these very Russian refugees that Serge Jaroff set about forming a choir in the Turkish internment camp Çilingir, near Istanbul. The Cossacks began to accompany their own church services, and later left for the Greek island of Lemnos. To improve the situation, they started giving open-air concerts, which were especially popular with the British. The Cossack lieutenant, Serge Jaroff worked hard on his choir’s repertoire, until a splendid opportunity presented itself. Troops were to be shipped from Çilingir to the Bulgarian town of Burgas and on their behalf the Russian envoy suggested that Jaroff and his choir should be attached to the church. Although the parish was too poor to support a choir, the offer was accepted and the members of the choir were obliged to find work on the side.
Bulgaria to Vienna

The tents were then exchanged for barracks in Sofia, provided by the Ministry of Defence. The profit from the-often improvised-concerts was about $ 2,- (approx. 8 German marks at the time). Even so, the debut on 23 June 1923 in the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Sofia was excellent for morale.

This was followed by an offer from a factory in a French town of Montargis. The wife of the factory owner was Russian, and since the factory already had a wind band, they also considered having a choir. Unfortunately, lack of funds marooned the choir in Vienna.

Help came from a representative of the League of Nations, who took an interest in the choir. He brought the singers in contact with the director of a concert agency. At an audition in the director’s office the singers exceeded all expectations-and a historic decision was made.

But the offer of a concert in the Vienna Hofburg on 4 July 1923 put everything else in the shadows. After this amazingly successful concert in the Austrian capital, the director predicted that the choir would not sing once, but a thousand times. In fact, it would eventually perform in excess of 10,000 concerts.

The choir toured Australia in 1926, leaving behind its lead tenor, Savva Kamaralli (Савва Камаралли), who decided to make his home there.
U.S. Citizenship

They traveled to the United States for the first time in 1930 and attained U.S. citizenship in a mass ceremony in 1936. With World War II looming, the choir found a new home in the United States.

Unique Voices

The Don Cossack Choir was renowned for both the quality of the tenors and especially for the depth and resonance of the low basses, particularly Pyotr Mihailik. It was reported that he could reach the bottom E of the piano with little difficulty. This unique blend of voices provided a different experience for most western audiences, increasing the popularity of the choir greatly. Whereas most western vocal composers tend to focus on the upper spectrum of the voice, many eastern composers have been noted to write music displaying the power of the lower voices.


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