Folk Music Electrified

N. Alekseeva, The Songsters (Pesniary). October 1972


Original Source: Ogonek, No. 42 (October 1972), pp. 32-33.

From their early days in the army to their present nationwide fame and popularity the Belorussian vocal and instrumental ensemble “The Songsters” has traveled a long and difficult route. Its members, all music school graduates, met while playing together in the Belorussian Military District Ensemble but only later succeeded in forming a group of their own, similar to those that were being formed by young people everywhere at that time.

“We might as well admit it, they say. “At first we tried to sing like the Beatles. And we probably weren’t any worse than, say, the Happy Fellows or the Blue Guitars. But before long we started to feel that this wasn’t us.”

In pursuit of a style of their own they eventually turned to folk music, and so successful did they become as popularizers of Belorussian folk songs that they won the 1969 All-Union Competition of Variety Show Performers. They have been giving independent performances under the auspices of the Minsk Philharmonic Society and making nationwide tours ever since.

The curtain goes up, and three musicians–with violin, recorder and “auto-lyre”–begin a simple, soft melody. One by one they are joined by the other performers–on electric guitar, organ and so on. It may be a surprising combination of instruments, but how subtly and tastefully the Songsters bring us the soul of Belorussia!

Source: Current Digest of the Soviet Press, Vol. XXV, No. 9/20 (1972).

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