Belorusskie Pesnyary ensemble conquers Kremlin audience

This year, Pesnyary decided to remind the Russian public of its founder, Vladimir Mulyavin, giving a concert in his memory not just anywhere but at the illustrious Kremlin: a special honour!
By Victoria Popova

Kremlin concerts in Russia offer the ultimate recognition for artists. Although Vladimir Mulyavin never performed at the Kremlin himself, his group was welcomed with standing ovations. Many famous artists sang duets with the much-loved band: Oleg Gazmanov, Alexander Marshall, Larisa Dolina, Iosif Kobzon and Tamara Gverdtsiteli. Buranovskiye Babushki perhaps received the most applause for their duet of Mowed Yas Clover — in Belarusian, Udmurt and Russian language. Belorusskie Pesnyary jokes, “We wanted to sing with Viagra but were told that, being Belarusian grandfathers, Buranovskiye Babushki were more suitable!”

Vladislav Misevich, who helped found the ensemble in 1969, joined composer and singer Oleg Averin in sharing his emotions with us immediately after the concert.

Vlad, who had the idea of such a magnificent programme?

Mr. Shchelokov, the former director of ‘Pesnyary’, who has always stood out from the crowd and remains a jazz musician at heart, is a big businessman. He came to us, offering to organise the concert to mark the tenth anniversary of the death of Mr. Mulyavin. Playing with ‘Pesnyary’ and all with which it’s associated have been the best years of our lives and, as it turns out, the same is true for the wonderful artists who agreed to duet our golden hits with us. Some top performers were unable to join us due to prior commitments.

Unfortunately, these days, show business in Moscow is crazy; everything is done quickly, which often results in loss of quality. 

What are the main advantages of having played the Kremlin concert?

Mr. Averin: Of course, there are some. I’m always looking ahead, planning tomorrow’s achievements.

Mr. Misevich: I don’t like to do this, preferring to see the concert as purely an event to remember Mr. Mulyavin. We seek to unite rather than divide and view friendly relations between our two countries as more than an empty phrase.

Oleg, I know that you arranged some of the duets. Was it easy for you to work with Buranovskiye Babushki?

They are a very disciplined group. We met to discuss which parts they’d sing in ‘Mowed Yas Clover’. They’re lovely grandmothers and have much to offer creatively, so we agreed on everything quite quickly. On stage, they were very shy, so we had to rehearse a lot… but it worked!

As the concert was successful, can it be repeated? Are the songs of Vladimir Mulyavin in demand today? What do you think?

Mr. Misevich: Nothing is eternal and today’s young people, to whom we’d like to pass our heritage, have very different musical tastes. Some young artists have begun singing in English but, often, so badly that it’s uncomfortable to listen to them. Most importantly, it becomes unclear which national culture they represent.

Mr. Averin: There was a time when the whole great country of the USSR listened to the songs of Vladimir Mulyavin, so they were known by the majority. Today, his songs are remembered only by those who love them. Those who don’t know them have no idea. In my opinion, in Belarus, people treat good songs with respect. If a young artist performs them, they may be reborn for a new generation, living on.

Mr. Misevich: Our concert programme included Luchenok’s ‘Cranes fly to Polesie’ — performed perfectly by Ruslan Alekhno. Larisa Dolina was also inspired by the programme and has promised to take several ‘Pesnyary’ songs into her repertoire. So, I think, this will help sustain our songs’ popularity. Actually, the organisers have suggested that we repeat the concert. God willing, we’ll certainly organise another.
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