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Troitsa ethno-trio brings fairy-tales to life in Minsk, pleasing old fans and surprising newcomers

Wonderful Troitsa band sings brilliantly

Troitsa ethno-trio brings fairy-tales to life in Minsk, pleasing old fans and surprising newcomers

Troitsa was established twenty years ago and, seventeen years ago, received its present name. Its compositions are primarily heard on records. Last year, Troitsa gave three concerts in Germany, two in Poland and Russia, and one in Switzerland and Belarus. This February, it toured Chile. “We were invited to the WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance) Festival, in the UK,” comments guitarist Yuri Dmitriev. “However, we couldn’t attend, due to visa problems. Then, we received an invitation to attend the same musical forum in Santiago.”

Ivan Kirchuk, leader of the Troitsa band

The WOMAD Festival — established in 1980 by Englishman Peter Gabriel (a humanist, musician, patron of the arts and producer of folk music performers) — has been touring the globe since 1982. It invited Belarusian musicians only recently, with Troitsa band enjoying the honour. “Belarusian songs are the most beautiful,” notes team leader Ivan Kirchuk. “Our melodies are great and the rhythms dynamic. We simply need to start playing and people want to dance and applaud. The festival’s organisers prepared a film, using our Maria song on the sound track, showing how much they loved us.”

Of course, fate is unpredictable. While the Belarusian musicians were preparing for the Chile event, another invitation came: to British WOMAD. This summer, Troitsa is likely to demonstrate its mastery at the prestigious festival.

“After our Winter album was released (which received ten awards in our country, including the First National Musical Award, the Rock Crown and Ultra Music) we want to make sure that our next album is of similar high quality,” comments Mr. Kirchuk. “We can either record at Peter Gabriel’s studio (for $60,000) or in Poland (for $15,000). So far, we’ve not found financial support. Even foreigners are less willing to assist, due to the financial crisis.”

He is saddened that our society is losing precious pearls of treasure: authentic music promoters. They are invited to major concerts and festivals, but then lose their individuality. “I know many bands and individual performers of ancient music who’ve been lost over the course of time,” the musician adds. “For example, television programmes like Soul Singing and Invitation to the Party offer a 2-3 minute format which obliges artistes to change their songs to fit. As a result, their work becomes homogenous. I once took a men’s choir from the Soligorsk District’s Gavrilchitsy village to Minsk and Tatiana Pesnyakevich recorded around three hours of their songs for the Folklore radio-club. Several years later, they were singing and dancing with a harmonica, like many other groups, without any of their original innovative harmonies.”

A major layer of folk culture — holiday customs — is receiving public attention, as Mr. Kirchuk notes. He has long studied these attentively and used motifs in his artistry. “I like to investigate Belarusian folklore and language, travelling and meeting people,” he explains. “I was born in Lida, to a Catholic family, and, until entering school, spoke Polish. This culture was closer to me until I came to Minsk in 1980, after my days of army service. At the Culture Institute, I heard Valachobniki band and Russian Dmitry Pokrovsky’s ensemble, which performed regional songs. I then realised the need to devote my life to what I’ve been doing all these years.”

Troitsa often has its members change musical instruments three times during a single performance, under an absolutely new format. “At our concert, we demonstrate all our materials,” Mr. Dmitriev says. “A new song — Adam — will also be performed: a fragment of church verse recorded in the Chernobyl zone, in which Adam is talking to God. We’ve introduced a new approach and hope that our song will become a folk hit.”

By Alena Davydova
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