From Russia, with love

2010-09-07 00:00

“NOT everybody in South Africa can go to Russia, but we can bring a little bit of Russia to South Africa.” That’s how André du Toit explains his decision to bring the Russian a capella group, the Petersburg Quartet, to the country at the end of September.

Du Toit and his wife Elzabe first encountered the four-part vocal group during a visit to Russia to enjoy its music­ and culture.

“We met them at one of the musical festivals in St Petersburg and felt that they were unique. At interval and after­ the concert they mingled with the audience, whereas the other performers disappeared. After listening to and meeting them I thought that I have to bring them to South Africa to share them with our people.”

The Petersburg Quartet, which has never visited South Africa before, has its roots in Russian classical, folk and choral music — but Igor Krushelnitsky (bass), Pawel Napalkov (baritone), Arseny Garibjan (second tenor) and Anatoly Lomunov (first tenor) also perform more contemporary songs, such as What A Wonderful World and Music of the Night from Phantom of the Opera.

The Petersburg Quartet was created in May 1994 and Krushelnitsky believes that because they know each other so well, it helps their performances.

“We are like one body with four heads. In Russian folk tales there is a dragon with three heads; we are like that, only with four,” he added. “We like to create magical harmonies with our voices. We try to make our performances like a journey around the music world.”

The quartet has performed in Spain and Monaco and has toured Australia on three occasions. “We moved from singing in small churches to huge concert halls from night to night, with the crowds begging for encores after every performance,” Krushelnitsky said.

South Africa was not, however, a country they had considered visiting before. “It was not something we ever thought we would be able to do. We rely almost exclusively on sponsors to tour,” the singer explained. “When we received the e-mail from André inviting us to South Africa, it was like a dream for us.”

Du Toit says that he can’t wait for the quartet to get here. “We want to try to let them see as much of the country­ as possible, so we’ll be taking them to the Kruger Park, the winelands, and the Drakensberg, where we hope to visit the Drakensberg Boys’ Choir.”

During their tour of South Africa, which runs    from     September­­ 29 to October 21, the Petersburg­ Quartet will perform at the Durban Country Club on October 13 and at the Hilton College Theatre on October 15.

“The facilities at Hilton are wonderful and we’re expecting the concert to be very stylish,” he said. “They will also be performing at the Durban Country Club. That concert will include a sit-down dinner, as we want to make the experience absolutely wonderful for Durbanites.”

• Bookings for the Durban concert can be made through Computicket. To book for the midlands concert, phone the Hilton College Theatre at 033 383 0126. The group’s CDs will be available at both venues.

• For more information about the Petersburg Quartet see www.peters burgquartet.co.za or find them on Facebook.

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