Northeast Times

Keeping traditions

People from all nationalities and cultural backgrounds are encouraged to attend a new Russian cultural festival in Northeast Philly that showcases music, dance and literature.

  • Celebration of culture: The Russian Mosaica Cultural Festival will offer a “Keeping Traditions” concert series at Glen Foerd on the Delaware. Four monthly installments will feature Steve Kramer. PHOTOS COURTESY OF MIKHAIL ZORICH

  • Celebration of culture: The Russian Mosaica Cultural Festival will offer a “Keeping Traditions” concert series at Glen Foerd on the Delaware. Four monthly installments will feature Tatyana Mykhaylova. PHOTOS COURTESY OF MIKHAIL ZORICH

  • Celebration of culture: The Russian Mosaica Cultural Festival will offer a “Keeping Traditions” concert series at Glen Foerd on the Delaware. Four monthly installments will feature Kira Shcherbakova. PHOTOS COURTESY OF MIKHAIL ZORICH

A new Rus­si­an cul­tur­al fest­iv­al will take cen­ter stage in North­east Phil­adelphia this fall, but it’s not just for Rus­si­ans. Nor is it re­stric­ted to Rus­si­an-lan­guage speak­ers.

Or­gan­izers en­cour­age people from all na­tion­al­it­ies and cul­tur­al back­grounds to ex­per­i­ence the mu­sic­al, dra­mat­ic, lit­er­ary and even ath­let­ic eth­nic-ori­ented activ­it­ies to be offered in the com­ing weeks.

“We are try­ing to pre­serve our her­it­age. And how do we define our her­it­age? It’s our cul­ture: our mu­sic, our dance, our lit­er­at­ure, what im­mig­rants from the former So­viet Uni­on brought here,” said Mikhail Zorich, pro­du­cer of the Rus­si­an Mo­sa­ica Cul­tur­al Fest­iv­al. “It’s what we try to pre­serve and pass on to the next gen­er­a­tion.”

Zorich and his group have de­veloped part­ner­ships with oth­er com­munity or­gan­iz­a­tions to pro­mote an ec­lect­ic ar­ray of con­certs and stage pro­duc­tions in mul­tiple loc­al ven­ues. The center­piece will be a “Keep­ing Tra­di­tions” con­cert series at Glen Fo­erd on the Delaware, where ro­fes­sion­al clas­sic­al, folk and con­tem­por­ary artists will per­form in the 18th-cen­tury man­sion’s in­tim­ate second-floor art gal­lery.

Four monthly in­stall­ments will be­gin on Thursday, Sept. 18, with “Singing Around the Globe” fea­tur­ing Kira Shch­erb­akova, a Kiev, Ukraine, nat­ive who at­ten­ded high school loc­ally and whom Zorich de­scribes as a “young, rising star.” She spe­cial­izes in con­tem­por­ary re­li­gious-theme mu­sic with both Chris­ti­an and Jew­ish in­flu­ences. She sings in six lan­guages in­clud­ing Eng­lish, Rus­si­an, French and Itali­an. Sib­ling child per­formers Ana­stas­ia Markel, 12, and her broth­er Al­ex­an­der, 10, also will show­case their singing and dan­cing. The Rus­si­an nat­ives and Chester County res­id­ents are trained in vo­cals and bal­let, spe­cial­iz­ing in tra­di­tion­al folk mu­sic, Zorich said.

The Sept. 18 show will co­in­cide with the xCul­tur­al Pass­port to PHL Week, an event cre­ated by the May­or’s Of­fice of Im­mig­rant and Mul­ti­cul­tur­al Af­fairs to cel­eb­rate Phil­adelphia’s im­mig­rant her­it­age and cul­tur­al di­versity. The Sept. 18 con­cert will start at 8 p.m., as will three ad­di­tion­al events in the Glen Fo­erd series. The ven­ue is at 5001 Grant Ave. Gen­er­al ad­mis­sion costs $20 ($15 for stu­dents).

The con­cert series will re­sume on Oct. 30 with “Cello Un­leashed” fea­tur­ing fourth-gen­er­a­tion mu­si­cian and in­struct­or Steve Kramer, along with his stu­dents. Kramer is of Ukraine her­it­age and his grand­fath­er trained at the pres­ti­gi­ous Kiev Con­ser­vat­ory, ac­cord­ing to Zorich. Kramer was born in Den­mark and has be­come in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed for his in­ter­pret­a­tion of Rus­si­an clas­sic­al com­pos­i­tions.

On Nov. 20, pi­an­ist Re­gina Shen­de­r­ovich will con­tin­ue the clas­sic­al theme with a solo re­cit­al. Shen­de­r­ovich is a Rus­si­an-Amer­ic­an who re­ceived her early train­ing at the St. Peters­burg Con­ser­vat­ory in Rus­sia. She holds a Bach­el­or of Mu­sic from Bo­ston Con­ser­vat­ory and Mas­ter of Mu­sic from the Pe­abody Con­ser­vat­ory of Johns Hop­kins. She earned her doc­tor­ate from the Uni­versity of Illinois and is a fac­ulty mem­ber at Set­tle­ment Mu­sic School. In 2006, she per­formed for the short sub­ject doc­u­ment­ary film Two Hands: The Le­on Fleish­er Story, which was nom­in­ated for an Oscar.

As an en­core on Dec. 18, Trio Phil­aG­rande will bring their unique pi­ano act to Glen Fo­erd, fea­tur­ing Olga and Dmitry Bor­isovsky, along with Tatyana Mykhaylova. The three mu­si­cians play a single pi­ano sim­ul­tan­eously in a six-hands format, of­fer­ing a com­pel­ling in­ter­pret­a­tion of works by Bach, Schubert, Tchaikovsky and oth­ers.

“At these four events, my in­ten­tion and goal is to build an audi­ence so people can ex­pect a prop­er level of per­form­ance,” said Zorich, who co-or­gan­ized the single-day Rus­si­an Mo­sa­ica Fest­iv­al at Penn’s Land­ing for eight years be­fore chan­ging formats and launch­ing the sea­son-long fest­iv­al two years ago.

As part of the new fest­iv­al, Zorich’s or­gan­iz­a­tion is co-pro­mot­ing oth­er cul­tur­al events, par­tic­u­larly the com­munity theat­er pro­duc­tion of Ant­on Chek­hov’s The Bear on Sept. 14. The En­core com­pany will pro­duce the play at House of Arts, 7938 Bustleton Ave. The dia­logue will be spoken in Rus­si­an. Ac­cord­ing to Zorich, En­core is 23 years old and began by sta­ging pro­duc­tions with Rus­si­an-Jew­ish her­it­age themes. Now, the com­pany has di­ver­si­fied in­to Rus­si­an clas­sics. Show­time is 4 p.m. Ad­mis­sion costs $15.

For folks more in­to ath­let­ic spec­tacles, the loc­al Rus­si­an-speak­ing com­munity is also plan­ning on field­ing a squad in the Phil­adelphia Plays for Peace soc­cer tour­na­ment at Edgely Fields in Fair­mount Park on Sept. 21. The event runs from 1 to 6 p.m. Ad­mis­sion is free. Ac­cord­ing to Zorich, the loc­al Rus­si­an-speak­ing com­munity has strong ties to the golden era of Ukrain­i­an soc­cer in the post-World War II years when Dy­namo Kiev was one of the top pro­fes­sion­al clubs in Europe. The leg­acy of that team is a strong source of pride among Ukrain­i­ans, des­pite the harsh Cold War en­vir­on­ment.

The same holds true for all Rus­si­an-speak­ing people of their many cul­tur­al con­tri­bu­tions.

“Even though people left [their home­lands] be­cause they had big prob­lems, they had many good things that happened to them on a cul­tur­al level,” Zorich said. “These are things we want the young people to know. There were so many tal­en­ted people who came over and who are now teach­ing.”

For in­form­a­tion about the pro­grams, vis­it the “Rus­si­an Mo­sa­ica Her­it­age Fest­iv­al” page on Face­book or call 609-230-9804. ••

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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