Midweek Maestro: Polina Skovoroda-Shepherd

Every week in the run up to SingFest 2015 I’ll be writing a blog focussing on one of this year’s tutors. This week it’s the turn of Siberian songstress, Polina Skovoroda-Shepherd.

Polina led workshops for us a couple of years ago for Spring Sing at G Live, Guildford. Everyone who came loved her teaching technique, songs and harmonies so much that we’ve booked her for SingFest this year.

Polina has such a rich musical life that it’s quite hard to sum up in one short blog, but I’ll have ago.

Polina pianoA brief history…

Polina was born in Siberia to a family who regularly sang together. She learned music from her grand-father, a button accordionist, and her mother who was a singer. Her first step to becoming a professional musician was as piano accompanist to her mother in the theatres of Tatarstan.

Her singing is deeply rooted in Russian and Eastern European Jewish culture: as well as her own compositions she sings and teaches songs of the Steppes and the Shtetl with great energy and passion.

Polina choirPolina the choir leader…

Once principal Yiddish choir leader of the former Soviet Union, Polina has led many choirs over the years and currently runs 3: London Russian Choir based at University College, London, Brighton and Hove Russian Choir who were prize winners at the 2010 Russian Song Competition in London, and The London Yiddish Choir which sings songs of the Jews of Eastern Europe in their 1000-year-old language.

Like most of the tutors who teach at SingFest, Polina is a member or the Natural Voice Practitioners’ Network, a community of singing leaders who believe that everyone can and should sing, therefor all of her choirs and workshops are accessible to everyone.

Polina fanfaraPolina the performer…

Since joining her first Klezmer band in 1990 Polina has collaborated with musicians from a wide range of musical and cultural backgrounds. For 16 years she toured internationally as a member of a cappella Jewish music quartet, Ashkenazim and recorded 3 albums with them. She now performs her own beautiful compositions as a solo artist on piano and vocals with an incredible 4-octave vocal range!

Her collaboration with husband, clarinetist Merlin Shepherd was described as “Led Zeppelin of Klezmer” by Seth Rogovoy of Forward.com. With Merlin, Polina currently fronts Fanfara, a Brighton based brass band which plays music from Serbia, Macedonia and Romania for dancing. They have studied with musicians from all over the world to create their unique sound including Roma musicians of Eastern Europe and carnival brass band musicians from Cuba.

To sum up…

We’re delighted Polina is able to tutor for us this year. She has a dizzying schedule of performances, tours, recording, workshops and choirs which takes her all over the world. Her love and passion for the music and traditions of cultures she as grown up with and studied throughout her career is completely infectious. SingFest punters are in for an emotional and inspirational treat this year!

Until next time…

If you would like to learn more about Polina’s music you can find gig and workshop dates, videos, CDs and much more info on her website. You can also find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @Polinashepherd

To book onto SingFest visit www.singfest.org.uk. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter and please do join in with the tweeting using #SingFest2015.

See you next week for another Midweek Maestro!

Anna x


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