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"More than the music itself was the atmosphere of whimisical informality conveyed by the musicians to each other, and to their audiences. Their's is a special talent that goes well beyond mere technical proficiency... This is more than music..."
By Howard Mettee, special for Rotarian Newsletters

Zit's been over two decades since Russia implemented Glasnost, or "Openness," in a nation that was sErouded in secrecy. With it came a greater understanding of the inner vjjerkings of the Communist gov-et-hmentas well as a greater give-and-take for the country's cultural figures."
─ŠţÝ ¤Ó˛­Ŕŕ ├Ó˛˛Ó, 9 november, 2003







Style of Five - Rotary Style
By Howard Mettee, special for Rotarian Newsletters
November 15, 2003

It might seem a bit out of the ordinary for Russia's top country music ensemble from St. Petersburg to play three American Rotary clubs in one week. Yet that is what the Style of Five ("Styl Piati") did the first week of November, just outside the city of Youngstown. Normally accustomed to short speeches or programs about community affairs, the Rotarians at the Boardman, Poland and Canfield clubs were treated to a most unusual and enthusiastically appreciated musical program, the likes of which they had rarely heard, or likery ever will again.
The virtuoso sounds of the plucked and strummed domra and gusli (like mandolin and zither), played by Natalia Schkrebko and Irina Ershova, permeated the air like resonating Russian blue grass with a classical flavor. Their rapid fire notes seem to hang in he air, keeping the audiences transfixed if not hypnotized. Who knew these best from Russia would ever be here in these small venues? What a welcome surprise, and a number told me it was the best program they'd ever heard at a Rotary meeting - high praise from 25-30 year members!
More than the music itself was the atmosphere of whimisical informality conveyed by the musicians to each other, and to their audiences. Their's is a special talent that goes well beyond mere technical proficiency, so they can really get down and bounce off each other, and extend their humor and joy to their intensely listening friends. This is more than music - it's a musical experience. When the group broke into the blues, or jazz in the form of Basso Ostinato, their versatility was established beyond all doubt. The arrangements of Evgenie Stetcyuk, whose synthesizer set the mood for many of the pieces, showed how the ensemble tried in many ways to reach their audience, but when the familiar American and especially Rotary melodies filled the air, it was then they knew this group had come especially to play to them!
Most will remember the deep combinations of bayan notes playing through tremulos of the stringed instruments, and especially the puckish humor of Valentin Zavirouka as he wandered from the serious concert hall to the circus or street like rythmns whenever the music allowed him, or he took it there himself. No one will ever forget Sergei Ruksha's "Good by, America - Hello, St. Petersburg" from our stage here in Youngstown, nor his bass balilaika support that lifted everyone.



Folk group embraces modern influences
By JOHN PATRICK GATTA VINpiCATOR CORRESPONDENT
9 november, 2003
The musical act Style of Five willperform at several area locations.
Zit's been over two decades since Russia implemented Glasnost, or "Openness," in a nation that was sErouded in secrecy. With it came a greater understanding of the inner vjjerkings of the Communist gov-et-hmentas well as a greater give-and-take for the country's cultural figures.
Jt seems so long ago, but there is sijjl much that Russians and Ameri-1 cans can learn from one another. And ttjat's one of the many positive reČsets of a visit to Youngstown by "Siyle of Five", a musical act consisting oMour Russian music professors and a colleague from the Rimsky-Korsikov Conservatory in St. Petersberg. The members graduated around the salme time and then worked togeth-er3n the orchestra.
"We decided to make a little enČsemble with five people, a little experiment with American synthesizer used together with folk instruČments, live sounds and recorded sounds." said Valentin Zaviriukha.
Youngstown visit
Dr. Howard Mettee, professor of chemistry at Youngstown State University, met two of the band members during a visit to Russia seven years ago. With cooperation from the Boardman Rotary Club arid YSU's College of Fine & Performing Arts, he was finally able to bring Style of Five to the area for a four-week residency that includes performances at1 area colleges, hospitals and classes. "They're trying to keep these country music instruments into the muČsical mainstream of culture, and that's a big job in Russia. That's a big job anywhere," he said during an inČterview with him and the band members. Mettee is acting as Style of Five's 2003 U.S. tour coordinator. It has been in existence for more than 1,000 years.
Zaviriukha plays the bayan, which is a Russian version of the accordion. In the right hands, the instrument is able to play more than 30 styles of the same song.
Sergei Ruksa plays the contra-bass or balalaika, a very large three-string instrument that provides the rhythČmic foundation for the material.
The group and its members, individually, have won major awards in Russia. During its decade together, Style of Fi\fle has developed a repertoire that includes traditional works from Russia and the United States, classical, Spanish, jazz and more. "We have a special program of American songs for this tour, country, blues, jazz, Take the A Train," said Schkrebko. The group's goal
"They try to keep this tradition alive in country music," said Mettee. "It was music of the people in Russia, the revolutionary years, the early Communist years. One of the princiČples of that time was to make peoČple more involved in music." Hearing Style of Five on CD and in concert, Mettee is obviously excited about presenting the group to a Youngstown audience.