Artist Series Concerts Presents Award-Winning Ensemble Russian Renaissance
Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota presents Russian Renaissance, the quartet that has been taking the chamber music world by storm with its highly dexterous and colorful arrangements of classical, jazz, tango and American folk music, all deftly performed on traditional Russian folk instruments, March 7, 7:30 p.m. and March 8, 3:00 p.m., at the Historic Asolo Theater, 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota. The quartet's program spans several centuries and much of the globe with music by Bach and Tchaikovsky, French accordionist Richard Galliano, legendary tango composer Astor Piazzolla, Brazilian guitarist-pianist Egberto Gismonti, America's Béla Fleck, and others.
"The balalaika, that three-string Russian folk instrument whose identity was once linked to Red Army troupes and the Dr. Zhivago soundtrack, is getting a shot of modernity in the hands of Russian Renaissance," said Brian Wise of Musical America when the august classical music publication named Russian Renaissance one of its 2018 "New Artists of the Month." Through their stunning performances of everything from tango and folk to Classical and jazz, Russian Renaissance is expanding the boundaries of their traditional Russian folk instruments (balalaika, domra/domra alto, button accordion, and balalaika contrabasso), while capturing the attention of audiences and critics worldwide.
The formation and rapid rise of Russian Renaissance is remarkable. The quartet was founded just four years ago, in summer of 2015, when balalaika player Ivan Kuznetsov and domra player Anastasia Zakharova, both new graduates of the Gnessin Russian Academy of Music, met by chance in Belgrade in the company of, oddly enough, a Serbian punk band named the No Smoking Orchestra. Kuznetsov and Zakharova hit it off musically, began performing together, and eventually recruited button accordion player Alexander Tarasov and balalaika contrabasso player Ivan Vinogradov to form their own ensemble, Russian Renaissance. They won their first competition in Russia the following year.
The foursome burst onto the U.S. scene shortly afterwards, when they won the 2017 M-Prize Competition at the University of Michigan, the world's most lucrative honor for chamber music. They have since followed up on that success with a gold medal at the 2019 Vienna International Music Competition, along with Lincoln and Kennedy Center debuts that same year. They have also just released their self-titled debut album on Azica Records.
"Russian Renaissance is one of the most innovative, skilled and versatile young chamber ensembles performing today," says Joseph Holt, director of artist programs for Artist Series Concerts. "While their sound is unquestionably grounded in the traditions of their native country, they are also masters at incorporating influences that extend far beyond Russia. Expect to be delighted by the unexpected!"
Tickets are $25 - $45 and are available at www.ArtistSeriesConcerts.org or by calling 941-306-1202.