Looking for a fun way to kick off the holiday season? Join us on Monday, December 17th and Tuesday December 18th for AVA’s thirtieth annual production of Russian Romances. AVA Russian repertoire vocal coach Ghenady Meirson has been directing this concert since his student days at the Curtis Institute of Music.
“Kevin McDowell and I attended Curtis around the same time and he sang in Russian Romances when we were both studying there,” explains Ghena. “When Kevin became Artistic Director at AVA, he brought me in to help set up a Russian language program. That’s how Russian Romances first made its way to AVA.”
Ghenady Meirson joined AVA’s faculty in 1989
Historically, Russian romances are poetic, sentimental songs by early Russian composers, that contribute to a rich tradition of Russian music. Ghena’s Russian Romances concerts initially included only these traditional, older pieces, but over time they evolved and came to incorporate more modern music, as well as arias from operas and duets.
“This year we are performing some fun material that is not very well known and that is very easy to listen to,” says Ghena. “The first part of the concert will be chamber music —that includes cello, voice and piano. I’m on piano the entire evening. I’m very excited.”
“Russian Romances is a great opportunity to discover Russian repertoire outside of the ordinary opera classics, as well as to learn how to sing in a chamber music setting,” says AVA’s third-year Resident Artist and soprano, Rebecca Gulinello.
This season’s performance will include guest artist, cellist Vivian Barton Dozor. The program will feature songs and ensembles by Russian composers such as Glinka, Borodin, Arensky, Taneyev, Glière, Medtner, Gretchaninoff, Cui, Prokofieff, Shostakovich and Sviridov.
AVA’s 2017 production of Russian Romances
Russian Romances offers AVA’s Resident Artists important exposure to the Russian language. Some Resident Artists have a solid amount of background in Russian repertoire, while others have none, so the concert represents an opportunity for everyone within the range of experience to practice and explore it. “The language is the main challenge, because the students are more experienced in Italian, French and German, which they spend more time studying,” explains Ghena. “Russian Romances is important in helping the students gain familiarity with Russian pronunciation and phonetics.”
While the concert provides a valuable linguistic experience for the Resident Artists, Ghena emphasizes that the main goal is exceptional vocalism. “In the end, they have to be fluent enough to sing beautifully,” he says.
There’s nothing like some heartening Russian music on a cold, winter night… We look forward to seeing you all next week!
Written by Tania Bagan