Students to visit Russia

St. Basil’s Cathedral was built in 1552 by Ivan the Terrible. The cathedral, now a museum, is located in Red Square in Moscow, Russia.

Abbie Stuart

Thirty years ago, Gordon McQuere, professor of music with a research specialty in Russian music, spent a semester in Moscow during the years of the Soviet Union. Last year during his sabbatical, McQuere returned to Russia to study the language. By the time he came back to Topeka, he knew he had to share his love for Russia with others.

“It’s such a wonderful place to visit and it’s so timely in the world,” McQuere said. “Washburn has never taken a group to Russia, so it seemed like a great opportunity.”

McQuere and Dmitri Nitzovstev, associate professor of economics, are going to take a group of students to Russia from May 22-June 3. The trip will be a part of a “Music in Russia” course, which can either be taken as a general education course or count toward a music major. The class will meet on Wednesday from 5:30-6:45 from March 23-May 15.

The cities that the group will visit are St. Petersburg, Moscow and Petrozavodsk, Nitzovstev’s hometown.

“We just didn’t want the students to see a showcase of…the country,” Nitzovstev said. “In Petrozavodsk, they can see kind of the Topeka sized city, except with Russian soil, and they can always see the everyday life of musicians and of music students…I think it will be a very transformative experience.”

McQuere and Nitzovstev shared that they hope to use music to enable students to understand Russia better. Discussions about the role music has played in the past and present in regard to Russian life, culture, politics, religion and international perception will be a part of the pre-trip course.

“Understanding Russian music is impossible without understanding Russian history, Russian culture, Russian everyday lifestyle, Russian politics, Russian economy,” Nitzovstev said.

“Music becomes the common factor that allows us to tie it all together,” McQuere said.

The trip is estimated to cost $3300 with International WTE scholarships available. Additionally, students need to prepare to pay additional expenses, such as acquiring a Visa and passport if they don’t have one.

There will be two informational meetings about the course and trip. They will be on Wednesday, Feb. 4 at 5:30, and on Monday, Feb. 9 at 4:30. Both will be in Garvey 220. People interested in the trip are encouraged to attend.