Ivan Kolchin

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Ivan Andreevich Kolchin was a noted choir director of the Russian emigration following the Bolshevik revolution and the Russian Civil War. He gained his reputation as choir director in China in the 1920s and 1930s, both in Manchuria and in Shanghai, before he emigrated to the United States in 1940 where he continued as a choir director in San Francisco.


Ivan Andreevich Kolchin was born on August 1, 1893 in Kalinino. His education was centered around music with a specialization in church singing. By 1910, he was conducting the choir in St. Nicholas Church in Slobodskoy. He attended Kazan University in Kazan, Russia from 1912 to 1917. At the university he was a contemporary of another noted choir director of the emigration, Victor Pokrovsky with whom Ivan sang in the Morreff Choir. The rise of bolshevism in 1917 and the Russian Civil War led to Ivan’s emigration to Manchuria, China.

In Manchuria Ivan turned to his expertise in music and choir direction. He organized, trained, and conducted a male choir that toured China, drawing large audiences. His choir work achieved notable prominence within China as well as abroad. From 1921 to 1936, he also was the choir director of the Church of St. Aleksei in the Mojiagou suburb of the Harbin. From 1936 to 1940, Ivan held the position of choir director of the Church of St. Nicholas in Shanghai, China.

Having attained a reputation of leading fine church choirs, Ivan was invited to the United States to conduct the choir at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in San Francisco. He remained at the Cathedral from 1940 to 1962. In addition to his church duties, Ivan formed and directed a Russian male choir that appeared at performances through out California.

After 1962, he retired, remaining in the San Francisco area until his repose in April 1967.