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Don Cossack Chorus Serge Jaroff

Boris Stepanovich Evtushenko
Member of the Chorus 1948 - 1949

"It is rather sad that there are so many things forgotten. My father often told many stories about his childhood, or his travels with the Choir. But I was adult and my father died before I realised that he had never told us the name of the village in Russia where he was born - it was always just «in my village»!"
Mona Finley, New South Wales, Australia, 6th March 2000
Boris Evtushenko (1899-1971), born in Kharkov, with the remains of the White Army came to Turkey. As professional basso soloist he was member of the Don Cossacks in the 1948/49 season. Later on he lived in Hartford, Connecticut, where he was regent of the choir of the Russian Orthodox church.

Boris Stepanovich Evtushenko was born August 3, 1899 in Kharkov, Ukraine (then Russia). He emigrated with the White Army to Turkey, then to Czechoslovakia, to the city of Brno (Bruenn), where he first continued studies of chemistry at the Brno University. However, he soon changed over to the Brno Conservatory, classes of voice (basso), composition and conducting.

The grandfather of Boris Evtushenko was the conductor in the orthodox cathedral in Kharkov and in several other churches. He came from a church-musical family. In fact, Boris Evtushenko had his own church choir when a teenager. Upon graduating from the Brno conservatory, he became a music teacher at the Russian Gymnasium in Moravska Trebova (Maehrisch Truebau), and after it was closed down, at the Russian Gymnasium in Prag.

Boris was married on July 5, 1925 in Brno to Anna Apollonovna Tregubova, born in Nikolayev December 11, 1904.

In late 1930s Boris Evtushenko was invited to take part in the broadcast premiere of Stravinsky's opera »Svadebka«, after which he was approached by the Olomouc (Olmuetz) opera, which he then joined as a soloist, basso. In 1941 he was invited to Bratislava (Slovakia), where he became a member of the National Opera, and often send on the radio, and gave concerts. The family remained there until the Soviets approached, when they were evacuated to Bavaria, which soon became the US zone of Germany.

In Germany Boris Evtushenko gave concerts to US personnel. As German operas started to reopen, he was offered a position in Bonn, but because of the very difficult life in Germany, and considering his two daughters (the younger just 10 years old), he decided to emigrate to the United States, where an aunt of his wife resided.

At that time, it was very difficult to enter the then rather limited world of American opera, and when Serge Jaroff proposed that he should join his choir, he did so. He made the tour 1948/49 that took them from New York City through Canada, western United States and Mexico back to New Your City through some southern states of the US. Boris sang in the basso voice register. In some places, particularly in the South, they had the opportunity to hear university choirs, and Boris was quite impressed by the high quality of those at schools from African Americans.

However, Boris remained only one season, as he preferred to stay with his family. He then took the position of conductor of a Russian Orthodox Church in Hartford, Connecticut. In addition he organized a »state« choir - comprised from many Connecticut Orthodox Churches. Sometimes, when the Metropolitan or New York City operas gave performances in Hartford, he was invited to join them in a small role.

Boris knew personally not only Serge Jaroff from way back, but also many old timers of the choir. One of his best friends was Boris Volkov, who died some years ago in California.

Boris Evtushenko passed away at April 9 1971 in Hartford, Connecticut, Anna 1989. They had two daughters, Natalia and Tatiana, who died in a car accident in 1979 near Washington, DC

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