Ichabods abroad: music in Russia

Jessica Knieff

Eight Ichabods visited Russia during an almost two week trip to experience the cultural and musical life that Russians enjoy.

Six of the students were music majors and the remaining two were music minors. These students were accompanied by Gordon McQuere, professor of music and former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Andrea Garritano, lecturer of voice and director of opera.

The first portion of the trip was spent in Saint Petersburg where the students took a city tour, attended several concerts, visited museums and cathedrals and ate local food. They also visited children at the Andreeva School of Music and enjoyed a concert.

Then they took a hydrofoil, a boat which has its hull lifted clear of the water to increase speed, to Peterhof, which was a summer home to some of the Czars.

Sydney Anderson, sophomore music performance major, said that the visit to Peterhof was her favorite part of the trip.

“It had beautiful fountains and gardens,” Anderson said. “It was the first time since we had arrived in Russia that we had gone outside the city and it felt like a breath of fresh air to see so many plants.”

According to Anderson, following the stay in Saint Petersburg, they took an evening train into Petrozavodsk. There they met up with Dmitri Nizovtsev, professor of economics and international studies coordinator for the Washburn School of Business in his hometown.

“We got not only a great translator, but did some things we wouldn’t have been able to do without his connection to the city,” Anderson said.

After a few more days of tours of concert halls and music schools, hydrofoil rides and more historic sites, the group took an overnight train to Moscow. There they got to see the opera Boris Godunov at the Bolshoi Theatre.

They took a tour of the famous theater, as well as many other museums and attended a few more concerts before heading back to the United States.

Alexandra Kovatch, a spring 2017 graduate with a bachelors in music performance, was on the trip as well.

“There was never one day less exciting than another,” Kovatch said. “Every day was a little different and we saw something new whether it was music related or touring a historical site.”

She said she found it interesting that every person she met wanted to talk and share about their country, its history and their culture.

Anderson and Kovatch both found many of the cultural differences surprising, but were still able to find many similarities.

Anderson said it was an adjustment that Europeans don’t put ice in their water and that the students had to brush their teeth with bottled water during their trip as the tap water was not safe to drink.

“I’ll never take those things for granted again,” Anderson said.

Kovatch and Anderson both recommend this trip to music majors and non music majors alike.

“You learn so much about how music is taught in other countries and we saw so much folk music that we could have only seen in Russia,” Anderson said. “It was truly a unique experience.”