Friday evening at 7:30 pm, December 6th’s concert program, “Muzika: Celebrating the Sounds of Eastern Europe” features award-winning vocalist Natalie Nowytski (natalien.com) with friends, including Bulgarian gadulka player Nikolay Gueorguiev, women’s a capella group Mila Vocal Ensemble (milavocalensemble.com), Balkan party band Orkestar Bez Ime (rogaria.com), and the folk supergroup Ukrainian Village Band (ukrainianvillageband.com).
On Saturday at 2 pm Hamline University’s Orchestra will be offering a free concert of classical compositions inspired by Central European folks dances, with guest dancers, the St. Paul Czech and Slovak Folk Dancers performing.
And Saturday night at 7 pm, Orkestar Bez Ime and Ethnic Dance Theatre’s Donald LaCourse will lead Ajde!: a free participatory Balkan social dance party in Hamline’s Bush Center Ballroom.
The concerts are at Sundin Music Hall, Hamline University, 1531 Hewitt Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55104. Tickets for the Friday concert is by general admission, $12 for adults, $8 for students and $5 for all ACTC students , faculty and staff and will be available at the door and by phone through the Sundin Music Hall Box Office, 651-523-2459. Parking at Hamline is free. For directions: http://www.hamline.edu/sundin/
Friday’s concert features a selection of music that covers the Balkans to the Carpathians, including Bulgaria, Bosnia, Croatia, Latvia, Macedonia, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Ukraine, as well as music of the Roma, the Carpatho-Rusyns, and others. The audience might even see the musicians intermingling and collaborating on songs throughout the program, as nearly everyone on the stage has worked with one another at some point.
Nowytski, a first-generation Ukrainian, counts her time with each of these ensembles as heavily influencing her work in traditional Eastern European vocal styling: A recent study trip to Serbia with McKnight fellows Orkestar Bez Ime helped sharpen her Romany singing technique; a decade-long tenure with Mila Vocal Ensemble solidified in her a passion for style imitation and led to performances in Bulgaria and on A Prairie Home Companion; her time with the Ukrainian Village Band reawakened her love for her own ancestors’ music and prompted further study of Carpatho-Rusyn culture; and for nearly 15 years, Bulgarian Nufi-Kotel graduate—and Hamline alumnus—Gueorguiev has inspired in her a fierce commitment to accuracy in Bulgarian regional folk music. Bringing these musicians together for a joint concert promises an evening of the best of Eastern European roots music in the Twin Cities.
Saturday’s concert program by Hamline University Orchestra, conducted by Dr. Yali You, includes Brahms’ Hungarian Dances, Bartok’s Romanian Dances and Dvorak and Smetana’s Czech and Slovak dances.