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.