TOP: The four participating group members, from left, Natalia Atroshchenko, Andrey Fofonov, Anna Vishnyakova, and Galina Denisova
BOTTOM: ELEON performs in Saint Petersburg


Program Bio
2008 The Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans, LA
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The ELEON ensemble, a group of professional vocal musicians based in Saint Petersburg, Russia, combines the traditional sound of Russian folk music with a classical approach and contemporary influences. The group’s repertoire includes church music, music by early and contemporary composers, and experimental performances. The ensemble’s debut concert in April 2006 illustrated the wide range and bold intentions of its repertoire and included such contrasting pieces as a traditional liturgy and a modern punk suite.

The members of the ELEON ensemble include several composers, ethnomusicologists and music historians. All of the singers in the group have their own music research projects which allow each to take turns leading ELEON in a particular creative direction. ELEON is a large ensemble, rather than a small chorus. As in any ensemble, every single voice counts, and the harmony of the sound is achieved by the intimate interaction of all voices – a very special characteristic of folk singing.

Currently the ensemble is participating in The Ivans, a theatrical production at the Aleksandrinsky Theater in Saint Petersburg, and recording a CD of traditional folksongs from various regions entitled Masculine and Feminine. The ensemble is also performing The Way, a playful new vocal folk music arrangement (a quadlibet). The religious repertoire of the ensemble includes programs for Christmas, Lent, and Easter.

“Eleon” is another name for the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. Audience members will have different associations with this name, all of which the ensemble welcomes.

Ensemble Members

The Eleon Ensemble is comprised of over 15 contributing muscians. Four of the core group members participated in the Open World Cultural Leaders Program, traveling to New Orleans, December, 2008.

Natalia Atroshchenko was born in 1975 in the city of Kaliningrad, where she studied piano at a music high school and choral conducting at the Kaliningrad College of Music. A graduate of the Russian Folk Song Art department at the Saint Petersburg State University of Culture and Arts, she completed a dissertation on oral and written folk music traditions in the Folklore Department at the Russian Institute for the History of Arts (Saint Petersburg), and has published and presented academic articles on that topic. Before joining the ELEON ensemble, she performed traditional folk music with the Saint Petersburg group Psalm Singers (Psalmopevtsy).

Galina Denisova was born in 1983 in the city of Kommunarsk in the Ukraine. At the Saint Petersburg State University of Culture and the Arts department of Russian Folk Song Art Denisova participated in folk music conferences, went on ethnographic expeditions to collect folk music, and performed at festivals and competitions as part of Posolon, a student ensemble. Prior to joining ELEON in 2006, Denisova performed in St. Petersburg and around Russia with the Cossack Folk Ensemble Ataman, of which she was a founding member. In addition to her work with ELEON, Denisova performs with the Ethnograd ensemble. She worked for seven years as a music teacher, with experience that ranged from teaching basic rhythm lessons to kindergarteners to conducting a competitive college folk ensemble.

Andrey Fofonov studied piano at a music high school and Acting in the Musical Tradition at the Saint Petersburg Academy of Theater Arts. In the early 1990s he began performing free jazz with folk music influences (projects include 2+2, The Music of Asia [Muzika Aziya], Ensemble RE), composing, arranging, and recording music and performing on traditional instruments.
He works as a composer and performer for dance theater, and as a music and sound producer/recorder for commercial and non-commercial video, on projects ranging from producing and mastering CDs for ELEON and other folk ensembles to recording and mastering sound for TV and film. Other music projects include The Living, a minimalist world fusion collaboration with vocalist Anna Pokidina, and the folk-inspired improvisation ensemble Fairytale, among others.He has participated in numerous folk music collecting expeditions in the Belgorod, Voronezh, Bryansk, and Volgograd regions with various partners and cooperating agencies. He has participated in over 15 music festivals in Russia and Finland since 1994, released nine albums, most recently Emerald Sea(Alchemia Records 2007), and is a member of the American Society of Composters, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). Most recently, he trained with an Indian vocalist and music professor in Kerala State, India. Find him online at

Anna Vishnyakova was born in 1983 in the Sverdlovsk region of Russia (the Ural Mountains), and studied at a music school where she learned accordion and choral music. She earned a degree as a Music Teacher and Choral Director at the Nizhny Tagil College of the Arts. She recently graduated from the Saint Petersburg State University of Culture and the Arts, and is qualified as a college-level choir director and teacher of musical directing. She directed the Ataman Cossack Folk Ensemble and has performed with the Ethnograd ensemble. She teaches Folk Music at the Sovremennik Children’s Cultural Center and has researched folk music in the Bryansk region of Russia.