Dmitri Pokrovsky Ensemble
In the early seventies Dmitri Pokrovsky was a student of conducting at Moscow's Gnessin Institute. Frustrated with the current musical scene, he felt the need to discover something fresh and different -- "an alternative musical language, something that would break through all the old patterns and rules."
Ironically he found it in a tiny village in a remote part of Russia, embedded within the oldest of traditions, in the strange sound made by a group of five old women singing. Dmitri heard songs passed down from generation to generation for thousands of years. "Their volume was improbable. The song was extraordinary, complicated and dense in form."
It was a sound unknown in towns and cities - this was the Russian folk song. Dmitri knew he had been deprived of a great art form and had been separated from his heritage; hence began his musical odyssey.
To help carry out this exploration, Dmitri founded an ensemble -- his "living laboratory." It was created by musicians coming together with psychologists, mathematicians, and physicists in a spirit of scientific observation and experiment. But this was not to be cold, clinical analysis, which would kill the very object of their study. In order to know the essence of living village ritual, they got inside it.
By creating a microcosm of the ritual of village life, the ensemble embodied the relationship within it -- between each villager, between villagers and nature, between villagers and rituals. Thus they could test their theories in practise, the results of which the experts -- the villagers themselves -- could validate.
In this way the ensemble travelled all over Russia, learning about the life and art of peasants and amassing a wealth of knowledge that they share in their performance.