It’s all Cassocks, Cossacks, and anvils

Boyan Ensemble of Kiev
Boyan Ensemble of Kiev

One of the world’s greatest professional choirs, whose programmes are described as “all Cassocks and Cossacks” by its loyal UK fans, will be adding anvils as well when it appears in concert in Brighton next month during its 21st annual British tour.

The 26-strong male choir, the Boyan Ensemble of Kiev, from Ukraine, accompanied by a single soprano, will be staging the concert at St Bartholomew’s Church in Ann Street, Brighton, on Thursday, 17 October, at 19.30pm. Tickets from 01273 709709 and

During the first half, the choir sings unaccompanied sacred music, some of which has evolved from 11th century chants from the ancient Kyiv Monastery of the Caves, while in the second half a striking change of mood features Ukrainian folk songs.

To mark the bicentenary of the birth of the Italian composer, Giuseppe Verdi, the choir will also be singing his famous ‘Anvil Chorus’ from the opera ‘Il Trovatore’.

Margarete Rolle, organiser of the British tour, said: “We could not let Verdi’s bicentenary pass without paying homage to this great composer and, given our traditional link with Cossack horsemen, the ‘Anvil Chorus’ was an obvious choice.”

The choir will also include the beautiful soprano aria, ‘La Vergine Degli Angeli’ from ‘Force of Destiny’ and the sparkling duet ‘Libiamo’, (the drinking song), from ‘La Traviata’.

“One of our regular supporters described the Boyan as ‘all Cossacks and cassocks’ a couple of years ago and it seemed so apt that it has passed into regular use,” said Margarete.

“The choir often moves its fans in this country to tears with the beauty and passion of its singing and it is known and acclaimed internationally for its mastery of this unique vocal technique.

“Much of the singing is unaccompanied and there is a party atmosphere in the second half when traditional songs of joy, humour and nostalgia convey the extraordinarily rich folk culture of Ukraine.

Here some of the songs are accompanied on the Bandura, a traditional folk instrument which was banned under the Soviet regime.

“Superb soloists feature throughout and we are all very much looking forward to performing this thrilling programme to our British audiences.”