The XIIIth Menestrel festival started with Vitebsk performers. The music of new and professional performers was basically good by intention. We listened to classic guitar, electro-acoustic guitar and finally electric guitar. Maybe we shall soon listen to digital guitar? But if not, I think, it’s not the reason to be upset.
The surprise of the festival was the performance of the young woman duet Anastasiya Perelygina and Anna Sharkun. The girls study in the 9th form in school number 33 with a musical bias. Their teacher Marina Shakuro says the girls make progress not only at guitar classes. The duet performed “The Romance” by Gomez and “Brazilian dance” adopted by Pernambuko. Though while performing the first play the excitement prevailed, the second play was performed perfectly. After that Alexander Solovyan performed. He graduated form Smolensk Music College and returned to his home city and from then on has been teaching at school number 33 in Vitebsk. We would like to extend a big gratitude to Alexander for his agreement to perform and for his courage. Before the performance he had broken his finger-nail and it’s quite a risky situation for a professional musician for there is a possibility to breathe on. But everything ended well. His performing of “Sapateado” by Rodrigo and “Asturia” by Albenis sounded solemnly.
Gennady Emelianov’s band “Jazz & Flamenco Band” performed for the second time since the date of its existence. Later on I would recommend it as a holiday band. Gennady’s compositions stay close to the interpretations of well-known songs and melodies of the foreign composers. The basic condition is a good mood which is addressed to a potential audience and which the band itself would like, that could be felt from their performing.
At the end of the concert Andrei Uskov’s “Freak time band” performed. In my own opinion, it is a phenomenon in the new music history of the city. The trio plays blues, jazz, Latin-American music in the most unexpected variation. The performance is perfect thanks to the experience of work in absolutely different bands and projects from folk to variety. Andrei Uskov worked in “Apple tea”, “Harley” and in Mikhail Finberg’s orchestra. Thanks to the leader, the band has a good taste, well organized performance, powerful energy and many other advantages which suggests that Uskov has been staying here for too long. Vitebsk is too tight for a musician who can compete with any prominent band of European level. To cut a long story short, well done!
On March 1, 2008 Ivan Smirnov’s quartet in renewed complement performed. The second guitarist was Ivan Smirnov Jr. Dmitry Safonov is busy with solo career and gave place to the representative of the family dynasty. The concert was very lyrical. Explosive Smirnov gave place to Smirnov philosopher, a story-teller, an interlocutor. The hits sounded in a different way, the new melodies flew pathetic. During the concert the palm of supremacy smoothly passed from guitar to percussion, then to Sergey Klevensky’s brass and then again to the guitar.
On March 2, 2008 the legendary Gypsy trio “Loyko” performed. The musicians doted the "i's" for Vitebsk once and for all. We are not talking about who is better, but the thing is that “Loyko” is unique. “Loyko” belongs to such bands which is necessary to see and to listen to.
Apart from press conferences with guests, there was a scientific conference concerning the problems of guitar music in general. It seems like Vitebsk has everything – masters, teachers, musicians, and even the festival. On the other hand, no researches in this sphere have been carried out. As a result, the meeting took place called “The Master. The Teacher. The Musician”. The main theme of this meeting was just a concern talking. It was found out that in the early XXI century there are not more than 5-6 guitar-makers in Vitebsk. Their basic occupation is guitar restoration, which in professionals’ opinion is a far more vulnerable and delicate instrument than, for instance, a violin and therefore needs careful and solicitous looking after. In unanimous opinion, there is no sense to see the advantages only in hand work; and the search of one’s own instrument is exceptionally the personal business of a musician. There are not more than 10-15 guitar teachers in our city. But what concerns the status “guitarist”, there are no such here. It appeared there is no define formulation. So the result of public talking about guitar was quite predictable. Of course, the guitar will still be on the stage even in distant future as the instrument is very beautiful and unique and it is impossible to imagine the world without it, which is good.
The organizers of the festival, the culture department of Vitebsk Executive Committee and the state institution “Cultural Center “Vitebsk” are very grateful to their traditional and new partners such as Vitebsk branch of “Belinvestbank”, “Belpromstroybank” and “Belarusbank”, “Belvest LLC”, “Rubicon” and “Polymerconstruction”. “Menestrel’2008” general partner is “Mobile TeleSystems, LLC”. The representatives of all the a.m. companies have been at festival concerts and together with thousands of spectators stayed grateful to its participants for enjoyment. The truth remains the same: listen to the guitar!
Photo by Ivan Astashonok, Alexei Usovich