Artistic Director

After an international search early in 2012 and a rigorous audition process, Slavyanka is delighted to welcome our fourth Director, Irina Shachneva. For more than a quarter of a century, Irina has enlightened the world as a musician, director, and teacher.

An alumna of the Glinka (Gorky) State Conservatory of Nizhnij Novgorod and the Penza Music School, Irina studied with professor E. Garkunov and pedagogue L. Osipova. Upon completing her studies in 1985, she was invited to serve as choirmaster and teacher in the famous children's choir studio Dubna outside Moscow. Within three years, she organized and led her own choir studio, Rhapsody, based out of the public school No. 6 in the town of Dubna. Within just a year of its founding, Rhapsody earned its first tour, performing a complete concert program in Poland and Bulgaria under Irina's direction. As a result of the Rhapsody studio's comprehensive artistic outreach and original curriculum, it was one of the first institutions to earn the status of Municipal Choral Schooland has continued to grow into one of the outer Muscovy region's most prestigious choral schools.

Upon her arrival in America, Irina Shachneva was immediately recognized and welcomed into the Boston professional music scene. She was invited as a guest conductor at the famed New England Conservatory (NEC) to perform A. Schnittke's Requiem in Jordan Hall, one of the oldest and most prestigious concert halls in America.

Concurrently, Irina worked as a music teacher, giving lessons in piano, theory and voice. She also worked as an organist, pianist, and conductor, as Music Director and organist at Mt. Calvary Church in Acton, MA, leading its choir and orchestra in performances of masterpieces by Bach, Faure, Mozart and other composers. This ensemble performed to acclaim at the International Music Festival in Warzburg, Germany, in 2011.

Irina continues to inspire budding musicians with her volunteer efforts, having led a children's choir for ten years at the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia's (ROCOR) local parish school in Boston and as Artistic Director of the Boston Russian Chorus, which, in 14 years, performed more than 30 various concert programs, acquainting the North American east coast with masterpieces of Russian music.

In June, 2010, Irina, along with Boston Russian Chorus manager Olga Melko and ROCOR Eastern American Diocese Music Committee chairwoman Elizabeth Ledkovsky, organized the first International Rachmaninoff Russian Music Festival in Boston. The Festival proved to be one of the highlights of Boston's cultural life that season, and it's success led to a prestigious invitation to Russia, where the Festival Choir participated in a weeklong festival in three cities, celebrating the 450th anniversary of one of Russia's best-known landmarks, the famed St. Basil's cathedral on Red Square.

Late in 2011, Irina moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, where her physicist husband had found a job in Silicon Valley. Happily for Slavyanka, she responded to our search for a new Artistic Director. After our initial surprise at the idea of a woman leading a men's chorus, she soon won the unanimous support of chorus singers as well as our search committee.

Irina's greatest talent is her unique ability to secure extremely professional results in any situation, on short order, with almost any choir, no matter the choristers' individual level of initial preparation. Goal-oriented, inexhaustibly energetic, original in her musical interpretations, which are imbued with a deep spirituality, and deeply loving of people -- these are the elements that define Irina Shachneva's character, as a person and as a musician.