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Russian Jazz Musicians to Visit U.S. Under Open World / National Endowment for the Arts Program
September 14, 2004

For Immediate Release

Russians’ Performance at Monterey Jazz Festival Among Highlights of Visit

September 14, 2004, Washington, D.C. – The first Russian jazz musicians to take part in the Open World cultural program begin arriving in the United States this month for two-week residencies at leading U.S. cultural institutions. The Open World program will host a total of 95 Russians in the coming months and is managed by the Open World Leadership Center at the Library of Congress, which also funds the administrative portion of the program. Support for the cultural program is also provided through partnership and funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Open World’s 2004–2005 cultural program leads off with a group of eight young Russian jazz musicians, who will spend September 9–26 at the Brubeck Institute at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. A highlight of the delegation’s visit will be their performance at the famed Monterey Jazz Festival on Saturday, September 18. The Russians will also play at a concert at the University of the Pacific.

In addition to the performances, the Russian musicians will engage in group and individual instruction, public performances, jam sessions, hands-on experience with recording, and cultural activities. Among the jazz names they will study and sit in with are jazz master Jimmy Heath and Brubeck Institute Executive Director J.B. Dyas and Artistic Director Christian McBride, both bassists.

The visiting Russian musicians are contrabassist Anton Revnyuk; drummer Petr Talalay; pianist Dmitriy Bratukhin; saxophonists Aleksey Kruglov, Anna Koroleva, Nikolay Panchenko, and Viktor Aktisov; and trombonist Vadim Dobryakov. These delegates come from Siberia and the Volga region, as well as St. Petersburg and Moscow, and represent musical institutions such as the Novosibirsk State Philharmonic Society, the Maimonides State Academy in Moscow, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Society of Jazz Music, the Volgograd Combo Jazz Band.

“The goal of the cultural leaders program is to forge better understanding between America and Russia by giving emerging Russian leaders in the arts unique opportunities to observe and experience American cultural and community life firsthand,” said Geraldine Otremba, Executive Director of the Open World Leadership Center. “There are deep cultural roots from Russia that have shaped dance, theater, music, and the visual arts in the United States. Open World’s expanded cultural initiative — made possible through our partnership with the NEA — will extend these ties to a very young group of Russian artists and cultural leaders. This cultural initiative will permit Russian and American cultural leaders to discuss similar challenges and learn from each other’s experiences.”

The NEA Chairman Dana Gioia said the Arts Endowment is pleased to partner with the Open World Program to bring Russia's emerging jazz artists to the United States, "America is the birthplace of jazz, and it's a wonderful opportunity to create an unprecedented exchange between young Russian musicians and American artists. The Open World delegates will work with living American jazz legends such as NEA Jazz Master Jimmy Heath."

In addition to the Russian jazz musicians hosted by the Brubeck Institute, on September 23 another delegation of Russian jazz musicians will head to the University of Louisville School of Music in Louisville, Kentucky. The delegates are bassists Vladimir Chernitsyn and Olga Krukovskaya; drummers Pavel Mikheyev and Aleksandra Mogilevich; trumpet player Platon Polyanskiy, guitarist Aleksandr Rodovskiy; saxophonist Ovagem Sultanyan; and pianist Vsevolod Timofeyev.

Their schedule features recording, improvisation, and rehearsal sessions with jazz luminaries like Jamey Aebersold, Jimmy Heath, John La Barbara, Virginia Mayhew, and Harry Pickens, as well as a live performance on local television. They also open for the Heath Brothers at the university’s Comstock Concert Hall on October 1.

Russia’s jazz tradition dates to 1922, when the country’s first jazz concert was held in Moscow. Though suppressed and largely cut off from its American roots, Russian jazz endured, not only in the cultural capitals of Moscow and Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), but also in places like Arkhangelsk in the polar north and Novosibirsk in Siberia. Russian jazz enthusiasts flocked to the rare concerts given by American jazz masters like Duke Ellington (in 1971) and Dave Brubeck (in 1987 and 1988). Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russian jazz has blossomed. Dozens of jazz festivals are held across Russia every year, jazz clubs are sprouting up again, and a growing number of music schools offer jazz training. As Russian musicians gain more exposure to the West’s jazz scene, they are performing an increasingly wide range of jazz styles to ever-greater acclaim. Though eager to learn from their counterparts in the birthplace of jazz, Russia’s jazz artists are also making their own unique contributions to the genre, whether by pushing the boundaries of avant-garde jazz or by incorporating native elements like Tuvan “throat-singing” into their music.

The Open World Program brings emerging leaders from participating countries to communities across the United States on short-term, high-level professional exchanges. It is managed by the Open World Leadership Center, an independent legislative branch agency that works cooperatively with the U.S. Department of State and other U.S. executive and judicial branch agencies. Participants engage in hands-on experiences, direct observation, and substantive exchange with their professional counterparts.

More delegations of Russian jazz musicians are planned for 2005 and will be announced later this year.

For more information and to arrange interviews with these Russian artists, please contact the PBN Company at 202-466-6210. For more background on Open World, please visit http://www.openworld.gov.