The Zeeland Byzantine Choir (Zeeuws Byzantijns Koor) was founded by Mrs Emilia Tabachnik-Li in Vlissingen (Flushing) in 1996. Some 70 singers responded to her initiative. From then on magnificent Russian Orthodox Church music has resounded in the province of Zeeland, too. Now the choir consists of about 50 men and women. Two worlds meet in the choir: Russian culture and Dutch culture, which is reflected in the choir’s name: Srétenieje, which means Meeting.
The choir is still conducted by Mrs Emilia Tabachnik- Li, of Russian orirgin, who received her musical training at the famous Rimsky Korsakov Academy of Music in St Petersburg. Later she worked there as a singing pedagogue and she also sang in the renowned St Petersburg Chamber Choir. Her knowledge of and passion for Russian music inspires all choir members. The substitute conductor, Mrs Elena Berdnikova, is also a gifted musician, well-versed in Russian Orthodox Church music and Russian folksongs.
The choir mainly sings Russian Orthodox liturgical music, among which many songs written by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov and Bortniansky. Pavel Chesnokov’s Liturgy Opus 42 is also part of the choir’s repertoire. Apart from these, the choir sings cheerful, romantic and melancholic folksongs from various Russian regions.
In the past two decades the choir has successfully performed in its home province of Zeeland, but also in other part of the Netherlands. Moreover, concert trips abroad were made to Bunde (Germany), Helsinki, St Petersburg, Kiev, Tbilisi (Georgia) and Paris.
Solos at concerts are sung by choir members. They receive extra instruction by the conductor. Besides weekly rehearsals, small choir ensembles, such as (double) quartets get extra tuition. Much attention is paid to the development of a full resounding voice.
In the course of time 3CDs were recorded, partly live, partly under record studio conditions. In 2012 a grand festival of Russian Orthodox Church music and Russian folksongs was organized in the choir’s hometown of Vlissingen, in which ten choirs from all over the Netherlands took part. The final festival concert was recorded on DVD.