Predictable full house surprises audience

The final chords of the 13th International Festival Zolotoy Shlyager in Mogilev have stopped resonating
By Pavel Matveev

On the eve of the festival we heard sceptical statements, ‘What else can surprise the audience’? It turned out that there are a lot of interesting things. For example, the concert of world and national jazz stars Autumn Leaves was the real gem of the programme.

Four-time Grammy nominee, Stanley Jordan, known for his unique guitar technique, delighted his audiences. Jordan could be called a ‘one-man band’. At times it sounded like at least 2 guitars were playing the melody. On another occasion the musician played the guitar and piano at the same time, and even sang.

The next day, having played at the opening concert, Jordan quietly walked into the hall and watched the performances of other artists with interest. He said that this was his first visit to Belarus. That’s why everything was so interesting.

During the Meeting Place — a Dance Floor concert all the chairs of the orchestra were removed. This was another first in the history of Zolotoy Shlyager (Golden Hit). The area in front of the stage from which came the music, and on which people danced 10, 15, 20 years ago, was turned into a huge dance floor. Teenagers looked at their parents with surprise, when they suddenly, as in their youth, broke into dance. I confess, I was a little bit shocked when I saw a group of officials dancing to the stirring strains of the Lambada, as performed by Cuban singer Barbara Grave de Peralta. The officials for a time removed their ties, both literally and figuratively.

Prior to the competition of young performers, an atmosphere of goodwill was felt behind the scenes. Competitors were concerned about the health of Belarusian contestant Aleksha Cherny as the day before, the singer had been complaining about a sore throat. The representative of Georgia, Beso Nemsadze played Suliko on-camera at a local TV station. The standing member of the jury, and People’s Artist, Igor Luchenok was met with applause. When the Chairman of the jury, Bari Alibasov, took his place in the hall, a many spectators grabbed their smartphones to photograph the head of the group, Na-Na.

According to the rules, each contestant had to perform a historic hit, plus his own song. Most of the hit songs were little known to most of the audience. The Belarusian contestant, for example, performed Mrs. Jones, which is not a new song, but neighbours down the hall and I heard it for the first time. The jury noted that many young singers had good voices, but that there was a lack of heart when performing. For this reason, it was decided not to give the Grand Prix to anybody. First degree diplomas were awarded Nikolay Manolov from Bulgaria and Dmitry Matatov from Israel. Second degree diplomas were received by the Russian performer, Alexander Yelovskikh and the Belarusian, Aleksha Cherny. ‘Bronze’ was received by David Kalandiya of Latvia, from Georgia and Beso Nemsadze and Alena Yelizarova from Uzbekistan.

The solo recital of Yuri Antonov filled the hall. I sat in the audience and asked myself why one wants to listen again and again to songs, that one has heard a hundred times, and knows by heart. Later, I was talking about this with Semen Milstein, ‘Russian golden trumpet’. He told me, “You know, Antonov, as a person, can be treated differently, but he is a genius and it speaks for itself.”

During a pause between songs, the singer said that participation in the festival made him consider a tour of Belarus.
In addition to concerts, there were numerous meetings with artists. At the festival’s press centre, interviews were recorded non-stop. As one star finished communicating with the representatives of mass media, their place was taken by another.
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