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Singing for freedom

Jazz singer Olesya Yalunina on how jazz freed her from a career in economics.

Published: February 29, 2012 (Issue # 1697)



  • Jazz singer Olesya Yalunina will perform with guitarist Alex Degusarov at Erarta on Friday, March 2.
    Photo: FOR SPT

As for so many of her heroes, for jazz singer Olesya Yalunina, jazz is freedom: A means of expressing emotions and ideas, as well as a means of freeing oneself from the homogeneity of daily life. This is apparent not only in her music and her singularly expressive voice, but in her personality as well. Yalunina flits between multifarious topics with ease, always with a smile framed by her trademark scarlet lipstick, clearly at ease with herself and eager to imbue similar feelings among those around her.

Yalunina is, unsurprisingly, most animated when talking about jazz, her job and her lifeblood. She talks lovingly about its ability to inspire and indeed, a look into her past explains why. Born in Irkutsk to a conventional working family, her mother and father encouraged her to become an economist. Although she played the piano at music school for eight years, the rigid structure of such an education, limited as it was to the classical styles of Rachmaninov and Shostakovich, nearly extinguished Yalunina’s passion for music. Having moved to St. Petersburg at 17 to begin studying economics, it quickly became apparent that “office stuff was not for me,” she says. During this time, at about the age of 19, she began listening to jazz artists, notably Diana Krall and Tierney Sutton.

“I don’t know why I started … it was intuition,” Yalunina says. Before long, she had fallen in love with all things jazz, broadening her musical repertoire whilst surrounding herself with musicians in the field. It was then that she decided to embark on a second degree, this time in jazz.

Music — in particular, jazz — was what freed Yalunina, and she remains confident in its ability to help people.

“Music can be different for different people — for some people it can be useful and helpful. Now there is more commerciality … but music always has power. If you want to hear it, it always has power.”

While some artists set themselves the mission of bringing about political change or doing something on a grand scale, Yalunina feels there are other equally important ways in which to help through music.

“It’s a big responsibility, but I want to help people,” she said. “To encourage people to change their job, to break routine, to look at things with a fresh perspective. When we perform it’s a great happiness, when you think people might listen to your music and go home and get on the Internet and listen to more jazz. You know, just so they don’t switch on the TV! I want to give people good, positive emotions.”

At the same time, Yalunina concedes that jazz music is not for everyone.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Dec. 20


The city’s Babushkina Park on Prospekt Obukhovskoy Oborony will be invaded by dozens of rocking-and-rolling Santa Clauses during today’s Santa Claus Parade. Not only will they parade through the park but there will also be competitions amongst the festively-clad participants and a musical master class. There will also be a prize for the best-dressed Santa Claus.


Add to your record collection during the Vinyl Christmas Sale at the KL10TCH bar on Konyushennaya Ploshchad today. Spend the afternoon perusing the records for sale while listening the classic, clean sound of records spinning out hits from a variety of musical genres and time periods.



Sunday, Dec. 21


The Zenit St. Petersburg basketball team returns to the northern capital this evening for a matchup with Krasny Oktyabr, a Volgograd-based basketball club. Tickets for the game, which tips off at 6 p.m. this evening, can be purchased on the club’s website or at their arena, Sibur Arena, on Krestovsky island.


Satisfy your sugar cravings during Sweet New Year, an ongoing seasonal festival at the Raduga shopping center. Each weekend of December will welcome hungry visitors to taste hundreds of different kinds of desserts made from a plethora of sweet treats. Workshops are open to visitors and seasonal gifts can also be purchased for those rushing to finish their New Year shopping.



Monday, Dec. 22


Pick out the latest fashions as holiday gifts for loved ones or as early presents for yourself during the Christmas Design Sale at Kraft on Obvodny Kanal, starting on Dec. 20 and continuing through Dec. 27. Designer clothes will be on sale every day of the week or you can buy something more festive to decorate the home while sipping on hot coffee and perusing the various master classes.



Tuesday, Dec. 23


Meet Arctic explorers Fedor Konukhov and Viktor Simonov during SPIBA’s and Capital Legal Service’s event “Arctic Expedition” this morning in the Mertens House business center at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. The meeting will discuss the explorers’ ongoing eco-social project and how companies can use the project as a unique marketing opportunity. Email office@spiba.ru by Dec. 22 if you wish to attend.



Wednesday, Dec. 24


The Anglican Church of St. Petersburg we will be holding a Christmas Eve service at 7 p.m. led by Rev Wm. Shepley Curtis of the Episcopal Church. The service will be held at the Swedish Church at 1/3 Malaya Konyushennaya Ulitsa.



To have your event included in All About Town, email tot@sptimes.ru



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