Alyona Minulina (also known as Alena and Elena) is a singer, DJ, and beatboxer as well as champion of Russia in live looping. Alyona Minulina is also a member of FolkBeat RF, an exploratory music ensemble from Moscow.
In 2018 she released Scythian Trace, a collaboration with Altay muscian Chichakov Aleksey, featuring new compositions and Altay folk songs.
In Mixt, with FolkBeat RF (Sketis Music, 2015)
Scythian Trace – Скифский след (ArtBeat, 2018)
Aidys Norbu started his throat singing career at the age of 13. He has represented the Tuva Republic in singing contests throughout the Russian Federation.
In 2008, Aidys Norbu became the winner of the contest “Music of spring” that was held in the Ural mountains. Moreover, Norbu has participated in a variety of contests across Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic.
The ensemble Tuva (also spelled Tyva), from Kyzyl in the Russian Federation, is a true legend of Tuvan folk music. The members of “Tuva” constantly continue to improve their performance skills in the traditional performing arts. During its existence “Tuva” ensemble has gained its distinctive look, style, and international recognition of Tuvan folk lovers. Its repertoire, based on Tuvan folk songs, includes 5 styles of throat singing: khoomei, sygyt, kargyraa, ezengileer, and borbannadyr.
Over its decades of existence, the ensemble has had several generations of singers and musicians. Aidys Norbu and Mergen-Kherel Chadamba are two of the most recent artists, representing the fourth generation of the ensemble. Their repertoire shows off the best examples of traditional khoomei which is accompanied by traditional string instruments such as igil, byzaanchy, doshpuluur and morsing (Jew‘s harp) as well.
Alash’s music is firmly grounded in cultural and spiritual traditions of Tuva, a remote Russian Republic on the Siberian-Mongolian border, but incorporates newer sounds. “We like to play within the great range of expression that the tradition offers, finding areas where our knowledge of complex rhythms and western harmonies mesh well with the traditional sound and feel of Tuvan music,” said ensemble member Mai-ool Sedip.
The Alash Ensemble was founded in 1999 in the basement of the Kyzyl Arts College in Tuva’s capital city. The group, originally known as Changy-Xaya, became the resident traditional ensemble at the school.
The group learned more about traditional Tuvan music from the well-known master Xoomeizhi (throat singer) Kongar-ool Ondar, but they also began to learn about Western classical music and such concepts as harmony, theory and staff notation.
The members of Alash perform on traditional Tuvan instruments as well as hybrids of Tuvan instruments and violins and cellos. They find these Western instruments appealing, and have begun exploring the new sound worlds that have arisen from their unique, dual musical consciousness. The group incorporates many seldom-played traditional Tuvan instruments such as the murgu, shoor and limpi (wind instruments) as well as the more common igil and dosh-puluur.
The members of the ensemble acknowledge the influence of many diverse sources – Tuvan and otherwise – in their work. Ondar played a key role in the life of the ensemble since its early days as its artistic director, encouraging and guiding the group’s formation as an ensemble. The Alash ensemble is among the first of a new generation of Tuvan musicians who have matured in the musically fertile and adventurous post-communist period in Tuva, says Sedip.
“We are inspired by the music of our grandparents, and their grandparents, and all the great Tuvan and Central Asian musicians of the post-Soviet era – Tuva Ensemble, Huun-Huur-Tu, Chirgilchin, Sarymai, Andrei Mongush and Alexander Sarzhat-ool,” notes Sedip. “We are also influenced by Sun Ra and Jimi Hendrix. We compose new songs, and arrange songs that we remember from childhood, such as “Saryglar.“
The Alash Ensemble toured North America for the first time in Spring 2006 through the Open World Leadership Program of the Library of Congress, performing and teaching on the East Coast and in the Midwest. The group released its first U.S. CD, Alash Live at the Enchanted Garden, featuring its sold-out performance at the Enchanted Garden in Ridgefield, Connecticut on March 17, 2006.
During the summer of 2006, the group performed in a Mongolian festival in Taiwan honoring the 800th anniversary of Genghis Khan, traveled, performed and taught in Poland, and participated in Tuva’s well-known festival in Chadaan. In September 2006, Alash’s members performed with the Tuvan National Folk Orchestra, which won the grand prize in the All-Russia Competition of National Orchestras and Ensembles in Ulan-Ude, Republic of Buryatia.
The throat-singing ensemble returned to North America in 2007.
Original members of Alash were: Kongar-ool Ondar, artistic director; Bady-Dorzhu Ondar — Vocals, igil, doshpuluur; Ayan-ool Sam: guitar, vocals, doshpuluur, chanzy, igil; Mai-ool Sedip — vocals, byzaanchy, limpi; Ayan Shirizhik –vocals, murgu, shoor, kengirge, xapchyk, dunggur; and Sergei Sotpa –vocals, igil, shoor, limpi, xomus, instrument-master.
Kongar-ool Ondar died in 2013.
Alash Live at the Enchanted Garden (2006) Alash (2007) Buura (2011) Achai (2015/Smithsonian Folkways, 2017)
Iva Nova (Ива Нова) was formed in St. Petersburg in 2002, when five young Russian ladies met to create a new collective of musicians. All of them had extensive experience playing gigs with various groups. They started a new band combining the tunes and instrumentation of traditional Slavonic music with the energy and attitude of rock.
Their original songs, sung by Vera Ogaryova, with tunes and lyrics based on the riches of folk music, are catchy and sensitive.
Line Up: Vera Ogaryova – lead vocals; Katherina Fedorova – drums; and percussion; Inka Lishentevich – guitar, vocals; Elena Zhornik – bayan (Russian accordion), vocals; Elena Nokikova – bass
The Ensemble of Slavonic Ethnic Music Vedan Kolod (meaning Prophetic tree) was created in February 2005 in Siberia, Russia, by Tatyana Naryshkina. In July of 2005 Vedan Kolod won the prize as the best Russian folk band in the International World Music Festival Ustuu-Huree.
In the summer of 2007 at the biggest Russian International Ethnic festival Vedan Kolod was the best in the Nomination Ethno-Experiment.
Vedan Kolod composes its own material, but it is based on recent research and analysis carried out by archaeologists and folklore specialists, interpreting events in ancient, pagan Russia before the coming of Christians coming. Vedan Kolod shows the culture of original Russian traditions and songs.
During its history, Vedan Kolod had revived numerous almost forgotten Russian folk instruments: gusli, ocarina, Slavonic drums, Scythian horn, sharkuncy and others, – restored, mastered and reconstructed by musical master Valerii Naryshkin. All these ancient kinds of instruments are used actually in a program of the Ensemble, as well as a low throat style of singing which existed in Ancient Russia. All songs are played without any electronic processing, just live.
Members: Tatyana Naryshkina – group leader. Plays vocal, flutes, Slavonic drums, ocarina, fuyara, vargan and others; Valerii Naryshkin – musical instrument maker, on vocals, two kinds of gusli, Scythian horn, ocarina, Slavonic drums, vargan, zhaleika, Slavonic bagpipe, fuyara, gudok and others; Daryana Antipova – Art-manager, on vocal, Slavonic big and small drums, fuyara, sharkuncy; and Polina Lisitsa – Slavonic small drum, vocal, lozhki, sharkuncy, flutes, vargan
Plemena – Tribes (2005) Tanec leshih – The dance of the wood spirits ( Sketis Music , 2007 ) Волчья Тропа – Wolf Trail ( Slavic Sunrise, 2008) У Кривой Дороги - At Curve Road (Crossroads Records, 2010) Слово О Полку Игореве – Word About the Regiment of Igor (2011) Site of ancient settlement ( Slavic Sunrise , 2014)
Vladiswar Nadishana is a Russian multi-instrumentalist and composer, who creates his own path in music, design, dancing, rites and other life processes.
His music style is ethnic fusion, ethnic jazz or world fusion – the creative synthesis of different musical traditions of the world on the basis of contemporary technologies.
In 1990, along with studying at the Cinema Engineers Institute in Saint Petersburg, Vladiswar Nadishana began his self-education in playing guitar. Then he mastered other instruments like fretless bass guitar, sitar, mandola, chanzy, jew’s harp, ethnopercussion (darbuka, jembe, kalangu, udu, frame drums); winds (bansuri, quena, kalyuka, zhaleyka, gayda). In addition, he has created some experimental musical instruments: dzuddahord, pruzhingum, plastrimbaphon, rablorrum, ghostcatcher, pin-sansa, spring-pivot-gamelan, banbang (beer and coffee-tins), etc.
In 1991 he founded his first group Soulbuilding Society together with Lavrenty Mganga, then he played in Ensemble Ri,with Lavrenty and Youl (1996). He also launched two other projects with Youl: phonic Duet (1994) and The Fourth Race (2001).
2000 -was the foundation year of a trio Russian-Tuvan Karma Knot with a throat singer from Tuva, Ayas Holazhyk. Vladiswar also played in the group Capercaillies at the Treshold of Eternity.
In Berlin he worked with famous ethno DJ Genetic Drugs and with Ramesh Weeratunga, a musician from Sri Lanka . All these groups and artists create music based on an experimental synthesis of musical traditions from all over the world (ethno jazz, ethno fusion, new world music etc.)
Since 2000 Vladiswar lives in Tibercul, the biggest ecovillage of the world. There he established The Department of Sound Microsurgery (DSM) . DSM is a creative research laboratory, tackling a wide variety of project: from mastering unknown ancient musical instruments to investigating the influence of modern sound electronics on the human energy structure. The Department researches also how musical instruments influence the consciousness and inner organs of the human body (the project Move Your Chakra!).
V. Nadishana created several solo albums in his own studio, recording with a computer, using a multi-track overdubbing method. Vladiswar possesses a big collection of musical instruments (more than 100) from different parts of the world.
He is laureate of the international festivals Ustuu-Huree, The Sayan Ring and New Songs of the Old Lands, and he is also the founder of the ethnofestival Free of Karma Zone.
In 1987, the Finnish press of Soviet-Karelia wrote about a young guy who was becoming popular on the underground scene of Petrozavodsk. Santtu Karhu (alias Aleksandr Medvedev) was raised by his grandmother in the old Karelian ways, before becoming a student in literature and then the first rock singer in the world using Karelian language with the lyrics of his songs. This was his own political stand. Karelians were at the time bout 75,000 in Russia.
It took some more years before Santtu’s band, Talvisovat (Winter Clothes), had gigs outside Russia and started making records. They found a warm interest and support in Finland where Finnish National TV made several documentaries about Karelian culture starring Santtu and his bands.
This is a five-piece band who explore the poetry and popular folk music of their Karelian homeland, and create their own style, mixing folk type jigs and reels with progressive rock arrangements in a style similar to Covus Corax, early Jethro Tull and Fairport Convention. Santtu Karhu describes his music as Etnofutiristic Rock. Their album Hyvastit Karjala (Hotigloo, 2003) was sold out in Finland. The lyrics are in Karelian.
Santtu and his band are regularly on tour in Finland and Scandinavia.
Line-Up: Santtu Karhu – Vocals and bass; Feodor Astashov on guitars; Arto Rinne on mandolin, harmonica, accordion, backing vocals; Mikael Kasharov – Drums; and Aleksander Leonov – Flutes, Juhikko, Saw, Backing vocals.
Hyvästit Karjala (Hot Igloo, 2003)
Terveh Petroskoi (Hot Igloo, 2006)
Allus oli muna (Hot Igloo, 2009)
E.L.O.S. (Nuori Karjala, 2009)
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.”
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.
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)
Julia Vorontsova was born in St. Petersburg Russia in 1982. After studying violin and piano for three years at St. Petersburg State Music School she started composing her own poetry and songs while teaching herself guitar. She completed High School in the USA, and later studied communications at Baruch College New York City .
Vorontsova grew up listening to the classic Russian bard folk singers such as Bulat Okudzhava, Yuri Vizbor and more recently Veronika Dolina. Vorontsova may be considered the most recent link to these Russian poets who flowered silently during the Soviet era. She has a singular & unique voice.
Her song writing is deeply melancholic, but playful. She sings in Russian, Polish and English. One can expect from a performance by Julia Vorontsova post-traditional bard moods of deep feeling informed by a more current acid folk approach.