First, I posted this recently to my You Tube site:
This is the text I wrote to go along with the video:
WELCOME TO SPRING, 2008!
I filmed this one year ago on March 25, 2007, which was Easter Sunday. A number of folk ensembles performed in the Old City of Riga (Latvian: Vecriga) and on top of "Bastion Hill ( Bastejs Kalns)" just outside of the old town. (Bastion Hill is what remains of the ramparts that once protected the city of Riga).
This is footage of the ensemble Il'inskaja Pjatnytsa performing on top of Bastejs Kalns. Actually, singing here is not the full ensemble, but just 2 of its members. . .what incredible voices these young women have! Leading participants in some dances to these songs is a middle-aged fellow who is the director of the ensemble.
Il'inskaja Pjatnytsa is a gem of Riga. Truly one of the best ensembles dedicated to presenting Russian folk music in an authentic or village-based style, Il'inskaja Pjatnytsa is admired by folklorists everywhere.
On that note, I am not that interested in commenting on the ironies of one of the best Russian ensembles being based in Riga, other than to say that within the folklore community of Latvia, they are highly admired and beloved. Love of folk culture should be (and often is) a source of transcendence beyond nationalism.
This time of the year is positively magical, anywhere where there is such dramatic change in season. I found it to be an especially wonderful time to be in Riga. For anyone very interested in folklore and folk culture, there always is a lot going on (around the time of every major holiday, for that matter). Throughout the Spring Equinox/Easter season are a number of opportunities to see folklore groups performing songs and rites welcoming the Spring. Participating in all these events was the perfect way to come out of Winter and into the Spring.
Happy Spring Equinox!
Then a video of an acquaintance, Dylan Fresco, performing очи чёрные recently in Mpls as part of a local, weekend-long Anton Chekhov Festival. Dylan adds great, line-for-line English translations as he sings the song; it's fun, take a look. Dylan is a fellow Mpls. resident and a fellow fellow with East European roots: