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Russian Village Music Club IZBA



IZBA sessions are open to anyone, and will give you an opportunity to experience Russian folk culture through singing, dance, and traditional food.

Russia used to be a “singing country” and its village traditions have little in common with the exported Soviet style folk music. The rural cultures are based on a fusion of Pagan and Christian worldviews, each with a local history and character. They enrich our present with the crystallised experiences of the past, and provide us with important background for understanding Russia's biggest cultural achievements.

Musical organisation in the rural traditions can be very complex and its principles (quantitative rhythm, heterophony) and its aesthetics differ from that of Western music. An important aspect of performance is the magic: the villagers have the ability (or the skill) to sing with their whole being, to put all their emotional power into the song. For them it used to be a question of life and death: the turn of the seasons, the fertility of their land and cattle and the wellbeing of the community were believed to depend on their singing. Come to IZBA club sessions to experience this different state of mind and a new approach to listening and singing together.

The general theme of this season's IZBA sessions is the life cycle in the traditional culture. The upcoming session will be dedicated to youth, gender, courtship and preparing for marriage – and we’ll be preparing for Christmas with Kaliadki (humorous Christmas carols) typical for that age group!



Listen here for

a well-known wedding song by a Cossack ensemble from the Don river region


one of the greatest Russian traditional solo performers, Olga Sergeeva, from the "Lake District" (Poozerye) at the Russian/Belorussian border.


"This is how Russia should sound: not rollicking, not rough, not archaic, but like this, so very alive, so tender, so emotional, so that you listen to it and cry, and you are filled with joy at the same time" singer Evgenia Smolianinova on Olga Sergeeva.


Some scenes from a Russian village:


Polina Proutskova has been researching and singing Russian and other musical traditions for over 15 years, conducting field research in various regions of Russia. Her Berlin-based vocal ensemble Polynushka won the most prestigious musical award in German-speaking countries and initiated a Russian folklore subculture in Berlin. Now in London as a vocal coach and a PhD candidate at Goldsmiths, Polina continues to advocate for less well-known aspects of Russian musical culture.