Profound spring melodies
[b]Belarusian singers tour Europe while world star Shakira arrives in Minsk[/b]The National Academic Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theatre recently hosted Musical Evenings. It was an unusual event — a concert and presentation of the book by Belarusian poet and translator, Vasil Semukha. His book, Rings of Ancient Fairy-tale, is a collection of translated poetic texts from vocal cycles by 18th-20th century German composers. For the first time in the history of Belarusian music, the pearls of world chamber music — fragments of vocal cycles by Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Wagner and Mahler — were performed in Belarusian by young soloists of the Bolshoi Theatre. However, the country is already anticipating new events in its cultural life. Belarus is sending Anastasia Vinnikova to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest in Germany — and Shakira is going to perform in Minsk.
The National Academic Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theatre recently hosted Musical Evenings. It was an unusual event — a concert and presentation of the book by Belarusian poet and translator, Vasil Semukha. His book, Rings of Ancient Fairy-tale, is a collection of translated poetic texts from vocal cycles by 18th-20th century German composers. For the first time in the history of Belarusian music, the pearls of world chamber music — fragments of vocal cycles by Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Wagner and Mahler — were performed in Belarusian by young soloists of the Bolshoi Theatre. However, the country is already anticipating new events in its cultural life. Belarus is sending Anastasia Vinnikova to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest in Germany — and Shakira is going to perform in Minsk.
Recently, Maxim — the most popular Russian singer in 2010 (according to the hit parades) — announced that she would like to work with contemporary Belarusian performers. She admitted that her fans often send her Belarusian language versions of her songs.
Russian and Belarusian artistes traditionally compete on the stage of the New Wave contest, which has been hosted by Jūrmala (not far from Riga) for the last ten years. This year, alongside the Belarusian participant of Eurovision-2008, Ruslan Alekhno, and winner of the televised Atlantic Breeze-2010 international youth television competition of popular music, Alena Lanskaya, the following will be competing for the opportunity to represent Belarus at New Wave-2011: ProSSpekt and Nikolay Bedraty, KD and Vera Karetnikova, Inga and JimmyWise, Yevgeny Litvinkovich and Katya Gornn, Yuzari and Andrey Pasternak, Yana Startseva and Alexandra Statskevich, Federatsiya and Yuri Kharevich, E.V.A. and cymbalist Yevgeny, Shalom and Kishasa, Rando and AlenHit and Sergey Yakush.
Many of these names are new to the stage and the competition should reveal the brightest performer of the next generation.
The finals of New Wave-2011 will be held in Jūrmala from July 27th to August 1st. Over six evenings, young performers and acknowledged pop music masters will appear on one stage at the Dzintari Concert Hall. This year, the prize is 100,000 Euros, with half of this sum awarded to the winner.
The Day of Belarus in Latvia and the Day of International Slavonic Bazaar in Vitebsk Festival of Arts — celebrating its 20th anniversary this year — will be also organised.
Meanwhile, the Colombian star Shakira will bring her Sun Comes Out show to Minsk-Arena on May 19th. Shakira will first tour Belarus and promises to astonish her fans with high-energy sound and an unforgettably spectacular show, as well as unique sets and concert equipment.
Shakira’s show — an energetic blend of Latin American music and rock — enjoys great popularity and the singer’s CDs have turned platinum and gold. Numerous awards — Grammy, World Music Awards, American Music Awards and MTV Awards — testify to the world-class standing of the talented artist, who is also famous for her philanthropic activities. She donates a considerable part of her income to charitable and educational projects and spent millions of dollars to help restore communities in Peru and Nicaragua after natural disasters struck. For this, Shakira was honoured by the UN and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Meanwhile, the major musical event of the spring-summer musical season for Belarus is the International Eurovision Song Contest, to be held in Dьsseldorf from May 10th-14th. Anastasia Vinnikova will represent Belarus. This prestigious role was awarded to the artiste by a focus group consisting of members of the country’s leading TV channels: the First TV Channel, Lad, ONT and STV. In total, the Belarusian State TV and Radio Company received 29 applications from Belarus, Latvia, the USA, Spain, Greece, Luxembourg, Moldova and Russia. 22 entrants were allowed to take part in the selection round.
Ms. Vinnikova will sing I am Belarusian, with verses written by Yevgeny Oleinik and Svetlana Geraskova. In 2007, Mr. Oleinik produced Alexey Zhigalkovich, who won the Junior Eurovision in the Netherlands. Last year, he com-
posed mini sound tracks for the Junior Eurovision in Minsk.
Mr. Oleinik is considering how to present the Belarusian language version of this song to European audiences. The co-writer of the song muses, “Many Eurovision experts often ask me why our country doesn’t send a contestant to the competition with a Belarusian song, enabling us to earn additional points from our neighbouring states. I will propose a Belarusian text to organisers. However, the major difficulty this year is that only Ukraine and Latvia (out of our closest neighbours) will compete in the semi-finals with us. So, we need to take into account the voting when creating the final version.”
Eurovision will be the first serious singing competition for Anastasia. The singer admitted that the news that she’ll be representing Belarus was very unexpected. Anastasia was born and lives in Dzerzhinsk, near Minsk, where she graduated from music school as a singer. She now studies at Minsk’s State Linguistic University’s Interpreting and Translation Department.
Curiously, popular Russian singer Mitya Fomin also expressed a desire to represent Belarus at Eurovision in the future. He admitted that Belarusian blood runs through his veins. He often gives concerts in Belarus. “I really have Belarusian roots. My mother told me that my grandmother came from Belarus.”
Meanwhile, Dьsseldorf is preparing for a pan-European music show. The faзade of the Thyssen skyscraper, located in the city centre, will turn into the world’s biggest screen to broadcast the Eurovision-2011 show. The television picture will be projected onto the building’s 6,000+sq.m faзade. Over thirty projectors will be used to create the best-quality picture possible and the broadcast will be accompanied by a multimedia show with 3D effects.
During the year Belarus will participate in other pan-European pro-jects. The European Union is launching a cultural campaign for Belarusian painters, photographers and musicians: Open Belarus — Open Europe. This joint cultural event by Belarus and five EU states (Germany, Lithuania, Portugal, Sweden and Estonia) is aimed at increasing the interaction between the art circles of Belarus and EU. Alexander Opeikin, co-ordinator of the campaign, notes that the project is aimed at creating a single European cultural space, where all those who wish to will be able to familiarise themselves with the contemporary culture and arts of Belarus and the EU.
The campaign will last for two years and consist of three stages. During this period, 70 musicians, painters and photographers will present contemporary culture at concerts, exhibitions and master classes. These events will be held in Dresden, Vilnius, Lisbon, Tartu, Stockholm, Minsk, Nesvizh, Polotsk, Bobruisk, Rechitsa and Pinsk. During the first stage (from April to October 2011) Belarusian artistes will visit five EU states. The second stage of cultural
exchanges will take place in Belarus, starting from April 2012. Lithuanian, German, Portuguese, Swedish and Estonian artistes will visit five Belarusian cities. The campaign will finish in October 2012 with a gala-concert in Minsk and a performance by all 70 participants, and a discussion of the results of the project.
The Open Belarus — Open Europe project will also be part of three popular musical festivals: Be2gether (Lithuania), Basovishcha (Poland) and BeFree (Ukraine). The events will bring together European and Belarusian musicians, as well as painters and photographers, who will present their interactive installations and conduct master classes. Meanwhile, major cultural events are also planned for Gomel, which this year was named a cultural capital of the CIS and Belarus. According to Belarus’ Culture Minister, Pavel Latushko, 160 events have been planned.
In the course of the year, Gomel’s concert grounds will see around 25 national artistic groups, including Pesnyary, Syabry and Khoroshki. The Cultural Capital of Belarus campaign was launched in early 2010 and aims to make the highest achievements of the national culture accessible to residents of all the cities and regions of the country. Polotsk was named a cultural capital of Belarus in 2010. In summer, the Republic’s musical life will shift to Vitebsk, which will host the 20th International Slavonic Bazaar Festival of Arts. “This festival should show Belarus to the world,” notes Anatoly Tozik, Belarus’ Deputy Prime Minister. “Over the years of its existence the festival has gained world-wide popularity. Now, its major task is to unite the Slavonic cultures and present Belarus’ unique culture to the world. The openness, sincerity and national character of Belarusians conquer audiences all over the globe.”
This year, the Slavonic Bazaar in Vitebsk is likely to become a spectacular event in the cultural life of Europe. The draft concept of the anniversary festival has already been drawn up, although the organising committee is always open to new ideas.
By Viktor Korbut