Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Concert of Authentic Ukrainian and Russian Folk Music in Riga

wedding songs and rituals:

i was surprised to find out that one of the best folklore ensembles from ukraine was coming to riga to do a concert! 

the bozhychi folklore ensemble from kyiv joined up with an excellent russian ensemble here in riga (excellent because they, like bozhychi, are uncomprimisingly dedicated to village-based authenticity) called il'inskaja pjatnytsa.  they performed together a show of russian and ukrainian wedding songs and rituals, with the structure of a ukrainian cossack marrying a russian bride.  in the footage, the people on the left of the stage are bozhychi and on the right are the il'inskaja members--but you can also tell them apart based on what language they sing in!  also, il'inskaja is made up of women, while bochychi has both men and women performers.       

one should be able to follow the mini-drama they presented easily.    presented are typical wedding songs and a re-enactment of negotiations for the marriage, which finally happens in the end. 

this is not a complete chronology of the show--i could only record snippets here and there on my digital photo camera.  i foolishly didn't bring along my DV camera, hence also the quality. 

a note authenticity:  to my mind, authenticity doesn't mean old; it refers to how people sing and dance in villages today as much as what we might imagine how they danced in the world of "back then."  it is a matter of style.  it is the sovietski bullshitski style (adding too much arrangement, too much choreography, too much ballet and too much classical technique, or in sum, too much refinement) v. village-based players (rawness).  to explain it with a reference to rock music, it is the style of a band like journey (disgusting to me!) v. that of velvet underground or the dead kennedys.  back to the ukrainian world, it is the difference between a group like the us-based cheres v. bozhychi.   cheres has reduced what they do to a stage-act, and the way they play is refined way beyond the style of an actual village-based ensemble.  and there are virtuoso players in the villages--but they don't sound like eastern european music academy graduates.  bozhychi are sincere folklorists--though many of them, too, have  quite a bit of training.  again, it is a matter of style.   it is a matter of choice, and i suppose of personal preference. 

as summarized on the il'inskaja site, in a not-so-great english translation from the site: "The word 'authentic' is possibility to distinguish the real tradition from its imitation. It is gigantic work, but it's our life."  one can choose to sing and dance in the village style, or to imitate it with too much flowery rendition, as in the sovietski bullshitski style. 

but if it is a matter of preference, it is crucial that there are those of us who prefer the authentic, lest it forever become confused with bourgeoisified (imitated) versions of authentic style (i.e., tradition).  

tradition is a style.  authenticity is a matter of style.  


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