Ensemble Zarjanka


Zarjanka ‘ (Robin) is the only ensemble in Western Europe with an expanded repertoire of authentic traditional folk songs, dances and rituals (without arrangement or choreography) of different population groups in Russia. Also the vocal technique and the costumes are authentic.

The ensemble has a semi-professional level and exists in majority from Dutch and further some Russians and people of Russian descent.

There are regularly performances in the Netherlands and abroad, including Russia of course, but also including the United States, Germany, Great Britain, Belgium.

Zarjanka has released three CDs to date. [Click: CDs]

‘ Zarjanka ‘ was formed in March 1994, when after a small concert in ‘ De IJsbreker ‘ in Amsterdam ethnomusicologist Bernard Kleikamp Irina Raspopova invited to prepare for a concert series. The ensemble changed greatly from composition during its existence. It still has few similarities to the hastily at that time gathered group, named Koljadá. Almost every year from 1997 members of Zarjanka visit villages in North and South Russia and stanitsa’s of Don Cossacks. There they sing along with the peasants and Cossacks, of which these songs are derived. Irina Raspopova collects text and music by means of field research and these songs are then taught directly from the original recordings. Thus they have built up a repertoire that comprises more than two hundred polyphonic songs, dances, rituals and spiritual chants from North, South, South-West, West and central Russia, Ukraine, Chuvashia, Mordova, of population groups such as the Don-, Kuban- and Volga Cossacks, gypsies, and communities of the Russian Orthodox Church and of Old Believers in Siberia and in the state of Oregon, United States.

The members of Zarjanka are trained in vocal techniques and improvisation methods which are characteristic of the local cultures which they rehearse repertoire.They have made themselves familiar with the different ways of vocalizations and control the art of the different polyphonic vocal dialects.

If they perform lyrical songs from villages in the Northwest of the Woronezh region, they sing in heterophony with mixed voice registry.  In songs from the South of the Kursk region, they sing with a different kind of heterophony in an anhemitonic scale, in which the voices mingle in dissonances; a number of second- and quarter intervals and ornaments with melismas. One hears bourdon heterophony performed in the chest register in songs from the Russian Poles’je, while songs from the Russian Pomors be staged from the far north with the upper part of the chest register and the head register in a variant of supporting voice polyphony.

Because the songs are embellished as little as possible, they sound at first hearing us sometimes strange: many become somewhat nasal sung, sometimes with wonderful rhythms and dissonance chords. In the elongated end unisono there is a search for the natural tone to produce overtones. This is a presumably thousands of years old singing technique, which is associated with contact with the divine. [Click: singing lessons/Irina method]


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