Russian folk music sets tone at lecture

By Lucas Snarski
Correspondent

Mayo Concert Hall was filled with the sounds of traditional Russian folk music on Friday, April 5, when Russian trio Zolotoj Plyos visited the college. As part of the Brown Bag series, the group performed folk songs and demonstrated a large variety of Russian instruments.

Folk musicians from Russia play unconventional instruments at this week’s Brown Bag. (Vicki Wang / Photo Assistant)

Zolotoj Plyos’s three members, Alexander Solovov, Elena Sadina and Sergei Grachev all attended the Saratov State Conservatory in Russia, where they formed the group over 18 years ago. They have gathered folk songs from many regions of Russia as well as the Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus and other neighboring countries, and performed them as a trio and separately.

This performance was part of Zolotoj Plyos’s current tour of the United States, which includes 15 concerts and five workshops.

Before appearing at the College, the group had most recently performed in Belgium. Solotov shared stories of the group’s travel and their encounters with U.S. customs.

The trio began with a short song that featured five different instruments, and then alternated between songs and explanations of instruments.

In total, they played over 20 instruments, many unfamiliar to a Western audience, such as the zhaleika, a flute Solovov played in several different styles. Sadina mostly played a balalaika, a three-stringed instrument, and Grachev played several Russian accordions, although the group exchanged instruments frequently.

The audience was entertained and engaged throughout the performance. The musicians were lively and sometimes comical, as when Solovov used his nose to play his flute, and when Grachev hid his red boot and then returned with an accordion in the shape of a red boot instead.

They also sang one a cappella song and played music on firewood strapped to Grachev’s back.

The College’s first-year Russian class backed the group for their second song by singing, clapping and dancing with the trio.

Later in the performance, the audience was encouraged to sing along to two songs, including “Kalinka,” a song Solovov called the most widely known Russian folk song.

Zolotoj Plyos’s performance entertained the audience with traditional Russian folk songs, dress and instruments, and exposed the college to Russian culture and some of the language.