Эмигрантский Русский ансамбль народной музыки и танца "Барыня" из Бруклина, штат Нью-Йорк, СШАЭмигрантский Русский ансамбль народной музыки и танца "Барыня" из Бруклина, штат Нью-Йорк, СШАЭмигрантский Русский ансамбль народной музыки и танца "Барыня" из Бруклина, штат Нью-Йорк, СШАЭмигрантский Русский ансамбль народной музыки и танца "Барыня" из Бруклина, штат Нью-Йорк, США

Open Letter to balalaika player Sasha Ressetar

Dear Sasha,

Thank you very much for your mail from April 6, 1998. Too bad, you have sent it to my old address in Borough Park (Brooklyn). I moved out of that place long time ago.

I am very happy that you finally decided to start your own Russian Folk Dance and Music Ensemble. I will be glad to answer all your questions and help as much as I can. I'd say it is going to take you about six months to have everything ready.

Unfortunately, all top quality names like "Andreev Orchestra", "Russian Carnival", Kalinka", "Russian Tea Room" and "Moscow Nights" are already taken by competition. What you have left is some useless stuff that nobody can say or remember ("Barynya", "Timonya" or "Skomorokhi"). If I were you, I'd go for powerful combination of familiar Russian words: "RUSSIAN KALINKA SAMOVAR" or "MOSCOW GYPSY ARMY".

Hiring musical director is easy. Just get the one that can read music or else and familiar with the term "Russian Music". Do not get more then one balalaika player. If you do have more, they will fight or drink each other to death on the tours.

Yes, I can recommend you the great contrabass balalaika player Leonid Bruk. He plays with every other Russian band in 500 miles radius around New York City. Most likely he will play with your group too.

While choosing a singer, you have only two options: male or female. I already know what your decision will be. Next you have to choose between fat or thin singer. Fat singers usually have stronger voices, but slim ones are easier to travel with in a small car. You will also need to make up your mind between alto and soprano. Remember that most singers are singing in unsupported by balalaika keys: (G sharp minor and such). It is cheaper if you sing yourself or force BAYANIST to do it. (The real trick is to stop him singing after the show is over).

I'd suggest tuning string instruments (balalaikas and domra) at least once a month.

Repertoire is traditional: "Kalinka", "Katyusha", "Dark Eyes", Dr. Zhivago's tune, "The Moon is shining" and "Korobushka". If you will start playing fancy stuff, people will let you know and ask for the right song - "Kalinka", "Katyusha", "Dark Eyes", Dr. Zhivago's tune, "The Moon is shining" and "Korobushka".

During concerts you should use a lot of reverberation. Everything your sound system is capable of. With lots of reverb any music looks professional and even my voice sounds OK. During gigs always remember: the louder you play, the more tips you get.

If you are using pre-recoded tracks, be ready that your band is always behind or ahead. As popular Russian singer Philip Kirkorov once said: "Everyone can play live, but try to keep up with FANERA (pre-recorded tracks)".

We did some experimentation with lights. Once we even played in complete darkness. At the end of the show one third of audience fall asleep, the other third disappeared and... Well, I will tell you what the rest were doing in person.

You were asking if it is true that Russian dancers and musicians are drinking vodka at lunch on the tour. No, it is not. Sometimes they just have wine instead.

The best time and place to hunt for Russian dancers is Brighton Beach (Brooklyn, NY) in September. Usually at that time dancers came back from their long vacations in Eastern Europe hungry for fame and money. Good Russian male dancer should be able to do 5-7 prysyadkis (Knee-bending) in a row without falling. Strong female dancer should be able to carry bayanist and his instrument back to the hotel after a long reception.

Remember that wine stains are less visible on red or black stage costumes.

When you have everything in place, just put your listing on http://www.BDAA.COM (if you have connections) and http://www.barynya.com/english.htm (free), sit next to your phone and wait for the gigs to come up.

Have a beer.

Good Luck!

Misha Smirnov, Artisic Director/Founder
Russian folk dance and music ensemble Barynya
It's Barynya Time!

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