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Expecting to see emotions from the audience

Belarusian State Philharmonic joined by famous jazz singer Gabrielle Stravelli of the USA, who prefers Minsk to New York and has her own secret for curing melancholy
By Lyudmila Nikolevskaya

This is my first time in Belarus. Before my arrival, I knew nothing about you. Now, I see a city with a rich and ancient history. New York, where I live, can’t boast such a thing. Minsk also offers more open spaces, filled with light; our skyscrapers rob us of this. In New York, we feel pressed upon, as our city is so densely built up. I was astonished to see how quiet Minsk is. I’m happy that I can walk about so easily and relax.

My life revolves around jazz; I’ve sung at the top venues from Atlanta to the Netherlands. Jazz music is a powerful weapon in America. However, the explosion of applause unites rather than maims. My signature song is called Skylark; it’s a delicate piece with many nuances, which stir the imagination — mine and those of the audience. I always expect to see emotion from the audience when I sing this song.

Musicians are rarely rich but, when you do have money, it’s best spent on travel. Like most people, I’ve been saving for old age. There’s a shop selling linen goods near your Philharmonic, so I’ll certainly buy presents there for my family. Linen is highly admired in our country. Meanwhile, I enjoy shopping, seeing it as therapy rather than a ‘disease’. The greater my troubles, the larger the purchase! You don’t need to cure melancholy with medication — just buy aromatic foam bath.

I like to visit museums and galleries, as I feel that anything touched by the hands of great masters bears their incredible energy. I’ve been told that three major museums operate in Minsk: art, war and history. After a tour of Belarus (Gomel, Mogilev, Vitebsk and Brest) we’ll return to Minsk, so I’ll try to visit these museums, as well as the National Library. I saw it on our way from the airport and would love to see it at night.

I don’t believe in these, as so many thousands have been predicted. I’m more concerned about December 25th than the 21st. I’m a romantic and love Christmas carols and the aroma of pine. I’ll be celebrating Christmas in New York with my family: my mother, brother and sister, and their children, as well as with my boyfriend Patrick [Patrick O’Leary — bass guitar with the Manhattan Jazz Connection with which Stravelli sings] and his relatives.
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