Artist Profiles: Dmitri Pokrovsky Ensemble

Dmitri Pokrovsky Ensemble (Dmitri seated on steps) and The Paul Winter Consort in 1987

In the early 1970s, Dmitri Pokrovsky was a student of conducting at Moscow’s Gnessin Pedagogical Institute of Music. Frustrated with the current musical scene, he felt the need to discover something fresh and different, something that would break all the old patterns and rules. He found it in a remote village in Russia, embedded within the oldest of traditions.

In the strange sound made by a group of old women singing, Pokrovsky heard songs passed down from generation to generation for thousands of years. The songs were extraordinary, complicated, dense in form, and unknown in towns and cities. These were the Russian folk songs.

Dmitri Pokrovsky lectured at America’s Smithsonian Institute, Princeton University and the Omega Institute, and was a Visiting Professor at Dartmouth College, USA. Directing his Ensemble, Pokrovsky wrote numerous scores for films and was an active musical director in Russian theatre.

In 1988, Mikhail Gorbachev honored Pokrovsky with the Government Award, the Soviet Union’s highest recognition for artistic excellence, a testament to the scholarship, musicianship and vitality with which he and the Ensemble had preserved Russian tradition, culture and customs.

We began as collectors of folk songs. We traveled all over Russia , principally to the small villages and rural farming areas where songs and customs have remained the same for many, many years. We were to form a living library as well as a cultural laboratory. The great Russian composer of the 19th century Mikhail Glinka said, “songs are the soul of the nation“. We would like to share these songs with you as a window into the Russian soul.”

Dmitri Pokrovsky Ensemble

The renowned Dmitri Pokrovsky Ensemble was founded in 1973. Wearing traditional Russian village costumes and performing on ancient instruments, the Dmitri Pokrovsky Ensemble brings the authentic folklore of Russia back to life. Some of their lively recreations of village songs, dances and pagan rituals are more than 2000 years old.

Since its founding, the Ensemble has been featured on the Paul Winter Consort’s Earthbeat tour (USA) and has given performances at numerous international festivals. The group has been featured in more than two dozen films, participated in many Russian theatrical pieces and appears regularly on Russian television.

Dmitri Pokrovsky died in 1996, but his legacy continues. The Dmitri Pokrovsky Ensemble continues to perform worldwide.

Discography:

Russian Folk Polyphonic Songs (1981)
Earthbeat, with The Paul Winter Consort (Living Music, 1987)
The Wild Field (Real World Records, 1991)
Gesichter Russlands – Faces Of Russia (Trikont, 1991)
Les Noces (Elektra Nonesuch, 1994)
Night In Galicia (CCn’C Records, 2000)
Voices Of Frozen Land (NBELIVE, 2002)
Nor Close To Town Nor Far (2008)
Russian Album (ART, 2016)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.
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