Wednesday, December 2, 2009

An Evening's Entertainment

Last night I attended a program performed by the Barynya Russian Dance Ensemble. Because I am not really into Russian music and dancing, I was not expecting too much, but I was very pleasantly surprised by the whole performance.
Of course the music was stereotypically Russian: almost all was in the minor key, and much of it, particularly the accompaniment for the dance routines started slowly and gradually picked up tempo.
The dances also were typical, with much strutting, stomping, high kicking and deep knee bending – enough to make a post-youth sigh with envy. And among the ladies there was also the usual high-kicking and full-skirt swirling. I can’t help but appreciate the talent, strength and stamina of the performers.
The costumes, both men’s and women’s were gorgeous – bright colors in all kinds of combinations and designs.
For me the highlight of the evening was the balalaika playing of Lina Karokhina, originally from Saint Petersburg, but now living in Boston. The balalaika is a three-stringed instrument (EEA), but in Lina’s hands it sounded like ten strings played by twenty fingers. In addition to playing in the ensemble, Ms. Karokhina also performed a solo classical number, demonstrating that the hands of a talented musician can bring forth music of great feeling and sensitivity from the instrument.
 I came away from the evening with a new appreciation for the talent and originality that goes into Russian music.
With each of these concerts, particularly those featuring performers from different cultures, I am constantly being amazed at the huge variety of musical arts that exist around the world. No matter how primitive the culture, music breaks out. Man is not only a thinking animal – a questionable proposition at best – he is also a musical animal.

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