Russia's National Folk Ensemble Captivates Audience
Don't you just hate it? You pick up The Daily Gleaner and read a review of a really great concert that took place last night. Unfortunately, you decided not to go.
Kathy Didkowsky Project Coordinator,
Guess what? The same thing happened again. Only this time, you have a second chance to hear it. Russia's national folk ensemble, Grenada, played a benefit concert at St. Thomas University's Black Box Theatre.
The money raised will be used to purchase medicine for children in Russia suffering the effects of radiation poisoning.
The concert was the first of two Music for Medicine performances in Fredericton. The second will take place at 8 p,m. on Friday, Oct. 27 at Le Centre Communautaire Ste.-Anne.
The group has been touring Nova Scotia and New Brunswick for the past two weeks. Nova Scotia teacher Rainy Didkowsky brought the ensemble to Canada in an effort to do something to help the sick children she met while visiting Moscow one year ago.
Although the purpose behind the concert was a sobering one, the performance itself was joyous and uplifting. The three men and four women who make up Grenada have an infectious enthusiasm that immediately captures their audience.
Sergei Vladumrski, musical director of the ensemble, is a bit of a legend himself. He owns and plays over 333 instruments (plus one he purchased in Nova Scotia).
Although Mr. Vladimirski did not play even a fraction of those instruments during last night's performance, he did demonstrate ample ability on the ones he did bring.
Over the course of the two-hour concert, he tackled the flute, guitar, saxophone, recorder, pan pipe, violin, and balalaika (plus a few more).Mr. Vladimirski is not, however, a musical oddity. His sensitive approach, deft skill, and gorgeous bass/baritone voice complete the package.
Despite a strong leader, Grenada is not just a one-man show. The other members of the ensemble are also talented individuals. Natalia Pavlova' dusky, rich voice crooned sad love songs with emotion, then brightened to emit an energetic Russian folk melody,
Tatiana Mechkova, as spokesperson for the group, did a fine job introducing the musical numbers in fluent English. Her contribution, along with those of Tatiana Vladimirskaya, Valeri Belsky, Victor Gorokhov, and Irina Ourazgildeeva, created some memorable moments.
Grenada offered a diverse selection of music.
Their renditions of nostalgic Canadian tunes was lovely, but it was the rousing folk songs from their native country that kept the audience clapping their hands and tapping their feet.
All members of Grenada are teachers and scholars of music. One of the group's many projects is to offer a musical centre where children come, free of charge, to learn to sing and play instruments.
Eleven of those young musicians travelled with Grenada to Canada and joined them for the second half of the concert. Dressed in blue jeans and high top sneakers, members of Grenadita could have been mistaken for any Canadian teenager. Grenadita offered many favorites from the past. One of the two young women who spoke talked of how
the group tried to learn music from Canada once they knew they would be. performing here. Their efforts were certainly appreciated.
Once again, however, it was the Russian folk' melodies that proved to be the audience favorites. The familiar "Kalinka" (often heard at hockey games) lifted the crowd to its feet fur a standing ovation.
There are many reasons to catch a performance by Grenada and Grenadita. It is a chance to see a recordholder in action. It is a chance to experience another culture. It is a chance to hear some fine music and have a wonderful time.
Most importantly, it is a chance to help some sick children feel better. The cost of admission ($10 (or adults and $5 for students) goes directly to buy medicine.
Those who can't attend Friday's concert but still want to help may send donations to:
Music for Medicine RR #1
Kennetcook Hants County,
Nova Scotia BON 1PO