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image: Campus NewsThe Russians are coming?
No one is likely to forget where they were on 9/11. Members of Golosá, the Russian Choir of the University of Chicago, were in Tarbagatay on Lake Baikal, near Siberia's Mongolian border, where they had just finished a concert. Golosá had already performed in Moscow and in Irkustsk and then made the long train trip to Tarbagatay to sing with Sud'binuska, an award-winning folk choir that inspires much of their repertoire.

IMAGE:  Goedicke, with daughter Madeleine, of who he writes:  In your stroller you helped me sate fate.  Steady anapests paced our gait's rate.  For clickety-clacks On Hyde Park's sidewalk cracks Helped me pace my first rhymes for Wait Wait.

Going native? For Siberia, Golosá discarded its ersatz folk dress.

Russian for "voices" and "melodies," Golosá was formed in summer 1997 by Loren Shevitz and Noel Taylor, AM'99. Taylor wanted a way to keep singing the folk songs he had learned during a semester with the Russian Choir of Freiburg. Today the choir is a baker's dozen of Chicago undergrad and graduate students, alumni, and friends-only four of whom speak Russian.

Although Golosá sings a range of Russian folk songs-including well-known national "anthems" about betrayed Cossacks, the mother Volga, and the steppes-since 1999 the group has placed a special emphasis on the distinctive songs of the Semeiskie, or Old Believers. These religious protesters were first banished from Russia when they refused to go along with a mid-17th-century move toward the Greek Orthodox Church. A century later Catherine the Great invited them back from Polish exile, on the condition that they move to Siberia and farm for the Cossacks stationed there to guard against Mongolian invaders.

Isolated by geography as well as religion, the Old Believers developed their own tradition, with a more forward, nasal tone than Western style, repeated chants, and a preponderance of half- and whole-tone dissonances. Since the songs were never written down, when villagers joined together to sing, each sang according to his or her own lights, slightly off-kilter.

Singing from scores that replicate that sound, Golosá performed this year at the U of C Folk Festival, twice in Bond Chapel, and at several venues around the city. The group also produced its first CD, Golosá: Songs from the Selengá, the river that flows into Lake Baikal. Monies from the CD and performances are earmarked to bring the choir's Siberian hosts, Sud' binuska, to Chicago. (To order the CD go to the choir's Web site at www.golosa.org.) Golosá would like to repay that group's hospitality, which included a welcoming hilltop picnic at dawn featuring meat pastries, vodka, and singing. More important, says Taylor, Golosá wants "to share with the rest of the University community the music that has so inspired us."
-M.R.Y.



 

 


  JUNE 2002

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