200 years for a violin - is a young age
©Argumenti I Fakti - Saint Petersburg Newspaper, Elena Petrova
15th of October Kapella is giving a concert to trio "Loyko". The leader - Sergey Erdenko - a representative of a famous Gypsy family, famous with it's musicians far from the limit of the Russian land. For a long time Sergey lived outside the boundary and later settled down in Saint Petersburg.
Live where beauty lives
I always wanted to live in a beautiful city - Sergey explains his choice. I lived in London, then once in my life appeared a producer which organized a tour to Ireland- which went by with great success, later a second, then third. In Ireland my brother and I stayed for ten years. We liked it there more then in England: people there are open and really remind Russians- like to drink, smoke, communicate with each other, and this culture is one of the most musical cultures in the world. After living in Ireland for a few years, I left for France, mainly because in Paris live my three sisters. But soon enough I decided to return home to Moscow, where most of my family lives. And now as you see, I'm here, in beautiful Saint Petersburg, it will soon be three tears since I moved here.
-How did it happen that your dynasty is thrown around the world?
-Nomadic life lives in the blood of Gypsy. One time we lived in Kursk, then on the Far East of the country, later moved to Samara, and finally settled down in Moscow. After the change of authority in Russia, we had the opportunity to travel, see the world.
-Do you speak you native language?
- After turning seven tears old, I was up brought in a musical boarding school, and was torn away from the language. But on the level of the "every-day language", I can say that I speak pretty well.
-Do you know all the representatives of you dynasty?
- I don't know all of them, but all the violinists- precisely.
The soul loves sadness
-Does it happen that all of your family gathers together?
-Definitely, on big feasts and weddings. I remember my wedding like one of the most amazing concerts in my life. Gathered together all my close relatives-not too many- about a hundred people, -we started playing about six o'clock and ended way past midnight. Music almost never stopped, and if someone stopped, picked up another.
I personally prefer sad music. The soul loves sadness, because sadness purifies.
Cheery music turns on heat, but the fire from this heat only burns deep feeling that live in the soul.
-Why is it that among Gypsies are so many musicians?
-When a child is growing up, we feed him not only with food, but also with music: I personally put on magnificent music for my child, tell him what is special to my heart, what I love. In the child arises a desire to be similar to his relatives. I always wanted to bear a resemble to my uncle and older brother. Music was always around me, and at the same time was competition: if someone was sent to a competition concert, I was told- practice, and some day you will also come to light.
-An instrument for a musician is a being with a soul. Tell us about your violin.
-It is a classical instrument named "the French" born in 1806, this tear it will turn 200 years. For a violin this is the age of a young woman.
Of course age-limits exist, but the sounds which old instruments make are created by great musicians, which with years bloom like beautiful flowers.
This is the difference between a good instrument and a bad one. Now such violins are made that are able to compete with the famous "Italians", but no one can predict how they will sound in 50 years, that is why the difference in price is about three "zeros" less.
-How did the "French" find you?
My older brother Nikolay Erdenko- a very serious violinist, a laureate of international musical competitions, was once in Poland on a festival, representing Russia. He was with our sister, seventeen-year old Esmeralda.
Once sitting in a street cafe, they saw an assembly of musicians: Black-haired, bearded, with violins, contrabasses, violoncellos, and many other instruments. As it turned out later, they were Engrain Gypsies. When they saw my brother and sister, they immediately recognized Gypsies in them. The musicians stopped, and started plying right where they were standing, mostly for stunning Esmeralda. Nikolay felt that he had to thank them: he borrowed the violin from the leader of the band and played "Gypsy Girl" written Ravel, one of the most difficult classical works. The Engrains were so amazed with his talent, they took of their hats. By the way during the unplanned concert, people threw a lot of money for show, which the musicians gave all away to Nikolay. And the leader said, "This violin is now yours, because after hearing you play, I can not play on it anymore." Afterward, this violin became mine- was passed on to me by my brother.
-Unexpected luck- is that the real Gypsy happiness?
-I think that everything that happens in this life isn't just luck. If for example you find a hundred rubles on the street- maybe it is luck, but if you are given such a precious violin, you must correspond to it and eventually pass it on to another person. You must pass it like something that carries life and fire in itself.
-Do you already have a person to whom you will pass you violin?
-Of course, it is my biggest wish- to someday see my son-Trifon playing this violin. He is now two and a half years old, and has already attempted to break my violin, the same way how he once broke my guitar. His little violins are all destroyed as well.
-Does he already play music?
- He imitates. Asks me to take the guitar, and he himself takes "tip-tip"- that's how he calls the violin: I play, and he touches the strings of the violin, understanding that his taking part in giving live to music.
Hard question: How to survive?
-Do you have much work in Russia?
-On the West I had much more work, about 20-25 concerts a month. In Russia exist two directions in music: Pop and Classical. I still can not completely understand how other music survives. On the West there are special theaters where you can hear folk musical for example. In Germany often pass Gypsy festivals, in which we take part. In Edinburgh, were we performed numerous times, gathers a million people audience.
-How do you feel in academic halls, for example in Kapella?
-I feel magnificent. One time- to my amazement Gideon Kremer invited "Loyko" to his festival of classical music in Austria. We were not included in the program, because our invitation was unplanned. Because of that, there was almost no information about our group. At fist the audience was confused, but when they
"got the picture" and understood what was going on, they all "went crazy": moved their bow ties to the sides, stood up from their places- in a short time all of the audience became Gypsy.
…Before the change of the government, there was a lot of Gypsy life in Russia. Not a single concert was given without Slichenko or the trio "Roman" taking part in it. Existed an enormous amount of ensembles- and that is a very small Gyps nomad group of about 20-25 people in it. These ensembles were as a replacement for the people. They all lived in hotels, were later their children were born and raised up. Now many of these people stopped connecting themselves with music, and began doing "un-Gypsy" things such as work with computers. This fact is a real pain for me, because talents are slowly dieing away and the traditions of generations along with them.
-Do you have a computer?
-I don't even have a cell phone. It's not a Gypsy thing.
Gypsies are children
What are the features of a real Gypsy essence?
-Gypsies are like small children. A child doesn't care how he is dressed, as long as it is comfortable for him to run and play. And just like small children, Gypsies are not concerned about what sort of clothes they wear. However, sometimes it is easy to hide something taken without permission- in a wide skirt. Another feature that I like that Gypsies are ruthless, how the saying goes: I'm not rancorous- I revenged and forgot about it". I also consider a very important Gypsy feature is that Gypsies appreciate and respect a person for some of his certain qualities, and not because he's a boss or got bags of money. Here comes a Gypsy man- what can you have of him? He can loan a hundred rubles. But if he takes a guitar or a violin in his hands, and starts to tell through the music a deep thought which is impossible to say in words- the person listening- becomes beautiful. This beauty of Gypsies could be understood through the song. If the person opens up like that, he will be loved, he will be given everything, and will be followed where ever he goes.