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Peter-Paul and the U.S. Consulate

May 17, 2013

A visit to the Peter-Paul Fortress and Cathedral really gives a sense of the grandeur and history of Petersburg, as well as a great view of the city and the Neva River.  Founded on this very spot in 1703, it’s easy to gaze across the Neva and find oneself in another time:

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The cathedral is filled with gold dappled opulence and is also the final resting place for the Romanovs and more Tsars than you can count on one hand and is topped by a twenty foot tall gold angel:

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We toured the fortress as well as the prison, which held luminaries such as Gogol during more trying times in the city’s history:

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Last evening all of the fellows journeyed to the U.S. Consulate to present our programs to assembled officials and journalists.  It was wonderful to hear more about the other programs: from improvisational video to graphic novels to movement-based theatre to museum exhibitions and books.  I’m honored to be here with such luminaries in so many fields.  The reception afterwards was luxurious and festive (I was interviewed for a radio program about jazz!).  It was a fantastic night and even featured a performance by the jazz group Kondakov-Volkov Trio.  I didn’t take photos, but here’s a link to one of their previous performances:

A huge thank you to the Likhachev Foundation, the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Center, and the U.S. Consulate for this incredible experience.  Here is an excerpt from my presentation at the Consulate (excuse the abbreviations):

I am in the process of writing a play about an American jazz musician journeying to St. Petersburg and discovering an artistic home she did not find in the U.S..

If Moscow is the New York of the Russia jazz scene, then Piter is New Orleans…the places from which the roots of this music spring…steamboats, etc.  Researching the history of jazz in St. Petersburg as well as the past ninety years St. Petersburg history via historical events, literature, etc.  I intend to use jazz as a lens to view the evolution of the city and as a catalyst for a musician confronting her own demons.  My goal is to connect different eras of jazz, and the jazz musicians, promoters, and clubs, who shaped the individual eras to various events in the history of Piter.  As our hero encounters various types of music she finds herself in each time period.  The play will utilize jazz structures in its storytelling and also articulate what unique contributions Russian artists  have made to the history of jazz both in terms of instrumentation, the incorporation of traditional Russian rhythms and songs, and the desire to keep jazz moving forward rather than allowing it to remain a “museum piece.”

And here’s one “art-shot” of light streaming into one of the isolation cells in the prison:

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