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Musical moaning

Published: September 22, 2006 (Issue # 1206)


In a unique art project, members of the public are asked to complain and set their grumbles to music.

Complaining can be fun, complaining can be art and complaining can be a very entertaining and enlightening experience. Confused? An interactive art project taking place in St. Petersburg this weekend has the answers.

Finnish-German duo Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen have found an original outlet for everyone who wants to complain about lifes problems, big and small: to turn the grumbles into a song and have the moaning minnies sing it in public as part of a complaints choir. Energy expended expressing dissatisfaction, anger and other negative emotions is transformed into something productive, cathartic and entertaining.

The artists have already run the complaining choirs in Birmingham in the U.K., Helsinki and Hamburg.

The project invites people to submit complaints which are reworked during a series of workshops with help from professional musicians. No singing skills are required. The result is a song performed live by a choir made up of local enthusiasts, and the performance is videotaped.

In St. Petersburg, the workshops have been running this week and performances take place on Saturday and Sunday in the city center (see program below) as part of the Contemporary Art in The Traditional Museum festival run by the Pro Arte institute.

The artists behind the choir are very excited about the the project taking place in Russia.

Russia is undergoing quite dramatic changes. It is interesting to see what will happen there with the choir after the fairly stable welfare society of Finland, Kochta-Kalleinen said in an interview with The St. Petersburg Times.

But why bring the choir to St. Petersburg?

Actually St. Petersburg chose us. Pro Arte wanted to organize the choir, but for us this was perfect, since we expect a great tradition of lamenting in song in this town, Kochta-Kalleinen said.

Although the act of complaining is something that everyone can relate to, the complaints of those living in Birmingham seemed to differ from those expressed by people of Helsinki or in Hamburg judging by the results of the previous complaining choir events.

In Finland, people complained a great deal about mobile phones.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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