Kalamazoo Russian Festival returns for 18th year

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Photo of Russian nesting dolls.

The festival is set for Nov. 16.

KALAMAZOO—A series of concerts, workshops, speakers and fun activities for young and old will highlight the 18th annual Kalamazoo Russian Festival from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16, in the Fetzer Center on Western Michigan University's main campus.

The 2013 event features musical and dance entertainment, educational talks, children's activities, and Russian art, crafts and food in rooms throughout Fetzer Center.

WMU President John M. Dunn and state Rep. Sean McCann will participate in an opening ceremony, which will include a traditional bread and salt ceremony, at 9 a.m. in Fetzer's Kirsch Auditorium.

The Kalamazoo Russian Festival is organized by the Kalamazoo Russian Cultural Association and kicks off WMU's International Education Week. Admission to the festival is $10 for adults, $6 for students, $2 for children age 12 and under, and $20 for a family pass. All festival performances are included in the ticket cost, but food is purchased separately.

A partial list of Kalamazoo Russian Festival activities follows.

Performances in Kirsch Auditorium

  • Golosa will perform at 10 a.m. This Russian folk choir strives to preserve the music and culture of the Siberian Old Believers and of Russian folk singing in general.
  • Stas Venglevski, a virtuoso of the bayan, and Mischa Litvin, a master mandolinist and domra player, will perform at 11 a.m. Venglevski hails from the republic of Moldova and Litvin is originally from Minsk, Belarus.
  • Kalamazoo Strings Go Russian will present an eclectic mix of Russian-themed music at noon. The group is comprised of guitarist Steve Kamerling, violinist Barry Ross, and Russian bassist Denis Shebukhov.
  • American Taste of Russia will perform at 1 p.m. This group specializes in world music and is comprised of Svetlana Stone-Zobian, who sings in Russian, Latvian, Hebrew, French, Ukrainian, Italian and English; Paul Franklin, a multi-instrumentalist whose main passion is the violin; Janice Lakers, a pianist-singer with a jazz background; Mike Stoline, an upright bassist with a bluegrass background; and Allen Zobian, who plays several types of guitars in a variety of styles.
  • Jim Krzewski, the "Spoon Man," will perform at 2 p.m. Krzewski is a musician, comedian and speaker who has played the spoons for world leaders, celebrities and other audiences around the globe.
  • The Barvinok Ensemble will perform at 3 p.m. This vocal, instrumental and dance group is led by a Ukrainian couple who now reside in Holland, Mich. It will present popular Russian and Eastern European music. Performing will be Artistic Director Nina Tritenichenko, accordion and vocals; Dan Nicolini, balalaika; and Judy Sherman, balalaika and vocals.

Children's Room highlights

  • Jim Gardner, "Juggling Jim," will perform at 10 a.m. Gardner is a scientist with a passion for Russian culture and a penchant for juggling.
  • The Pushkin Dancers will perform at 11 a.m.
  • The Barvinok Ensemble will perform at noon.
  • WMU School of Music students will exhibit and demonstrate the violin at 1 p.m.
  • Children inspired by the "Spoon Man" performance are invited to do spoon painting at 3 p.m.

Educational programs

  • Nina Vasilyevna Paulova, a former theatrical speech consultant and professor at the Khabarovsk Institute of Arts and Culture, will do readings of renowned Russian poets, focusing on the post-Stalinist period, from noon to 2 p.m. in the upstairs classroom area.
  • Lorraine Fedorchak-Kraker will lecture and conduct a workshop on the famous pysanky eggs from 2 to 4 p.m. in the upstairs classrooms area. Attendees will learn about the symbolism of the eggs and create their own designs.
  • Dr. Patty Rice, internationally renowned amber expert and author, will lecture on varieties of amber and amber art from various European museums during a multimedia presentation at 2 p.m. in Putney Auditorium.
  • Judith Rypma, poet and WMU master faculty specialist-lecturer in English, will present a visual and poetic history of the famous Amber Room at 3 p.m. in Putney Auditorium. Rypma also will explore the famous room during a reading from her book, "Looking for the Amber Room," at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 17, at the Portage (Mich.) District Library.

For more information about the festival, visit russianfestival.org.

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