Select language:

Novel Bach: young organ players from Gnessin School performed in the Netherlands

 /  / Russkiy Mir Foundation / Publications / Novel Bach: young organ players from Gnessin School performed in the Netherlands

Novel Bach: young organ players from Gnessin School performed in the Netherlands

03.07.2019

Inessa Filatova

The Novel Bach, an interesting musical project, has been finished in the Netherlands. It was aimed to introduce young Russian organ players (15 to 18 y.o.) to Dutch public, to demonstrate masterly level of their performance talent and to give the youth a unique opportunity to take part in master classes of famous organ players of Europe, to play on time-honoured organs, and also to perform with their peers from theSweelinck National academyfor exceptionally gifted young musicians at the Amsterdam Conservatory.

Mecca for organ players

Photo credit: Nadia Eliseeva / Facebook

Participants of the project included Stefanida Yermolaeva, Sofia Krasnaya and Elizaveta Khisina, students at theGnessin Moscow Special Music School, as well as Maria Eugenia Pedano (voice), Anushka Pedano (viola) and Mike van Dyk (violin), students of theSweelinckAcademy. Young organ players from Moscow visited concerts of famous European maestros, studied how organ, their favorite musical instrument, developed and changed during several centuries, worked at master classes, rehearsals and concerts with Dutch musicians.

"Holland is a real paradise for organ players. There are about 1700 time-honored instruments preserved in good condition here. Such instruments represent important part of the country’s cultural heritage. For example, the organ in the Church of Saint Bavo, Haarlem, is the oldest organ in Europe. Mendelssohn, Handel and ten-year-old Mozart played on it ,” tells Nadya Eliseeva, the organizer of the project and the head of the Young Talents Foundation. “Therefore, the program of our project was designed so that our young people were able to give concerts and also take part in the famous Dutch festival of organ music in Alkmaar. Such experience is very important for Russian organ players, because it provides them with a unique opportunity to test real time-honored organs within the environment of real church acoustics. Such organs are rare in Russia, and very few students have access to them. During the week of our project, the girls played on 12 (!) organs. And every day they play on different ones. Such experience is truly unique for them.

For us, the project turned out to be very useful, intense and somewhat complex, says Maria Cherepanova, a teacher of Russian musicians . Surely, students of our school have been fortunate to practice on a pipe organ since relatively recent time, but we still do not have such a number of instruments per square meter in Russia. And for us such project is exposure to acoustics, experience with instruments of various styles and different ages, ability to quickly pack, relocate and play in a new place. Our students , of course , are very pleased ; they have amazing experience. This week girls have probably seen more organs than they saw in their entire life."

In music language

According to Maria Cherepanova, the girls had every hour of theirs planned. They prepared two different programs for the project: one for concerts, another one for master classes.

Those are completely different things. And they played different program at each master class. Each of the students brought a pack of works. We gave three concerts (in Alkmaar, Leiden and The Hague) and had two master classes every day in different churches and with different teachers. We had time just to eat, sleep and move to another city. Plus we had extra concerts. The program was very intense. The girls had to adapt to the instrumentalists, which had been completely unknown to them and were first time seen at a rehearsal just the day before performance. They had to overcome the language barrier and learn to understand each other through music. In such a case the music appeared as a kind of additional language, as a unifying factor."

Photo credit: Nadia Eliseeva / Facebook


Novel Bach

The unique concert program was prepared for this project. It included Bach music that sounded in new, unexpectedly bright arrangements for organ and chamber ensembles. Even one premiere took place .

We opened our concert program with Back to Bach by J.S. Michat, which was performed in such version for the first time. It was actually a premiere, says Vitaly Vitulya, the artistic director of the Novel Bach project . Because it is a sonata for saxophone and piano. But we re-arranged it for organ and sent it to the composer. The composer approved such arrangement, and now, for the first time, the version for organ was performed. This work goes from the present to the past and ends with the classical aria by Bach. That is the reason the Novel Bach got its name. The combination of organ and saxophone is something fresh because it embraces different ages. But these instruments are related ones; they both are of wind type. And since the saxophone is the closest wind instrument to the voice, its sound as a voice in combination with an organ is very graceful.

What I really like about this project is that we play together a lot. We are looking for some new colors and during rehearsals we change a lot: each new organ brings different colors, different music, other registers. This is what experience is all about . It is not about touching the relics, but rather the process.


Students impressions

Liza Khisina (the youngest participant, 15 years old) and Sophia Krasnaya (18 years old) shared their experience of participation in the project.

Sophia: It's great that there are so many time-honoured organs in the Netherlands! There are much more of here them than in Russia, because the main religion in Russia is Orthodox, and organs are not used in it. There was a lot to see, and we managed to play on 12 different organs!

Liza: I liked the large organ in Grote Kerk in Alkmaar the most! It is very powerful and its sound in the big church is really beautiful .

Sophia: Yes, there are two organs there, one is small, and another is large. The small organ is one of the oldest, if not the oldest one in Europe. Probably it impressed me the most; it is very different from all the organs I played on before .

Photo credit: Nadia Eliseeva / Facebook

Liza: We met with a lot of musicians and many organ players; we attended their master classes. It was very interesting, because we study in a Russian school, and, of course, we have a very different approach to ancient music. And the most difficult was to adjust to the instrument. If you do not play in large halls often enough, then it is very difficult to adjust to the acoustics.

Sophia: Yes, because they all sound differently, and acoustics is also different, and this is one of the key points in performance. Here, for example, the acoustics is strong enough and echo is long enough too, so you need to play more clear and even the tempo needs to be changed at some points. And in case of halls with drier acoustics, they play faster and in more conjunct way.

Liza: I was the youngest participant. At first I was a little afraid, but then I got used to things, and I really liked it. I experienced a little inconvenience, because I do not know English, only German, and master classes were given in English.

Sophia: In fact, age of participants varied greatly. Lisa was the youngest one, and the oldest participant was an elderly person. If we talk about master classes and these teachers, sometimes we performed the same work to different professors, and it was very interesting to listen to what each of them would say about interpretation and about the work in general, and then think which of the opinions you feel more related to. Their words were different, sometimes even opposite, but none of them could be considered wrong.

Liza: We visited Zaandam, Leiden and The Hague. We went to different churches in Alkmaar. We now have a lot of experience - we played on different instruments. Now it will be easier to adapt to instruments in Russia.

Sophia: And not only in Russia. I think the more instruments you see, the easier it is for you to adapt later.

The girls visited the Netherlands for the first time. In addition to organs, they adored canals and rivers, clean air and beautiful architecture.

New publications

Igor Egorov is an ordinary school teacher from the Science Town of Pushchino near Moscow. For many years he has been spending his holidays traveling around Europe, where he searches for the graves of Russian white emigrants and for information about forgotten figures of Russian emigre communities. Anush, his wife and faithful assistant, is always by his side. The teacher actively engages his students in the search.
How do you rise to fame and become a popular blogger with 300,000 subscribers when you are a bit over 70? Arno Pavel, an Estonian pensioner, has found his recipe for success. At 72, he drove his UAZ from Tallinn to Vladivostok and back. Impressions from such a trip would have been enough for any person for a lifetime. But Arno did not stop there: over the past three years he has visited Petrozavodsk, Arkhangelsk, Syktyvkar, Orenburg, Astrakhan, Elista, Grozny and even the Kola Peninsula. He also wrote a book about his trips to Russia and plans to write another one.
This year marks the 130th anniversary of the birth of Vladimir Zworykin, a famous Russian inventor and the pioneer of television technology. His name was unknown for a long time in Russia. Meanwhile, in the United States, where the inventor lived most of his life, at some point he was under supervision, as the FBI suspected him to be a Russian spy.
The Russian village of Aleksandrovka, an amazing corner of Russian history, has been preserved in one of the districts of Potsdam. The Alexander Nevsky Memorial Church, the oldest surviving Orthodox church in Germany, is located on a mountain nearby. The history behind this village is, first of all, the story of friendship between two royal persons - Frederick William III of Prussia and Alexander I of Russia. Andrei Chernodarov, a historian and cultural expert, told the Russkiy Mir on how this unusual monument came to existence and how it has been preserved.
William Brumfield, a researcher of Russian architecture and Professor of the Tulane University (New Orleans), has travelled thousands of kilometers along passable and impassable roads of the Russian North. Architecture at the End of the Earth, his book published in the USA in 2015, became quite an event in the scientific community. Russian edition of Towards the White Sea has been published this year.
International Puppet Theatre Festival Ryazanskie Smotriny (Showing-off in Ryazan), one of the largest and the most reputable festivals in Russia and whole Eastern Europe, will open in Sergei Yesenins home land on September 14th. Current show marks a milestone, not by its number, but by years: the Festival celebrates its 30th anniversary, and Petrushka, its symbol, shines out of posters like never before. According to the puppet masters, during years of the festivals existence the genre of puppet show has experienced absolute slump and unbelievable upswing. And it is still on the rise.
The Shtandart, a historical frigate built based on drawings designed 300 years ago, celebrated its 20th anniversary. It is the replica of the first naval frigate built by Peter the Great in Baltics in 1703. The replica frigate was put afloat with all the honors and celebrations in September 1999. The ceremony was held on Orlovskaya embankment, St. Petersburg, in presence of more than 40 thousand people. Over the 20-year period the Shtandart has traveled 167 thousand nautical miles, visited 127 ports in 17 countries; it has been featured in a dozen films and dressed up in scarlet sails for the famous Alumni Festival held in St. Petersburg.
Vladimir Menshov, the maker of such iconic movies as Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears and Love and Dove, turns 80 on September 17. His life is an example of a remarkably successful creative and personal destiny. It's no coincidence that this year 900 people attempted to win admission to his workshop at the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography (aka VGIK), while enrolment is set to 30. Menshov is known as a very principled person; and he teaches his students the same thing - only a powerful person can create a truly serious film.