2017 Russian Bell Ringing Performance a First in the United States

Russian Bells

The Sun Valley Summer Symphony has a tradition of programming extraordinary works played by world-class musicians.  2017 was no exception. Last year’s Russian Bell Ringing solos during the In Focus Series were unique not just to Sun Valley, but to the United States as a whole. They were the first solo performances of traditional Russian Bell Ringing for a United States orchestra music festival ever.

Zvon, or traditional Russian Bell Ringing, is a unique art form that is currently experiencing a renaissance in Russia, having been banned for some 70 years. Traditionally performed on permanently installed bells in churches, the resurgence has seen new performances which utilize mobile sets of bells. The Sun Valley Summer Symphony commissioned Blagovest Bells, and soloist Victor Avdienko, to introduce this traditional artform to a United States orchestra festival for the first time to help narrate the 2017 In Focus Series concerts, titled “The Russian Soul in Music,” at the Sun Valley Pavilion on July 24, 26 and 28, 2017.

Avdienko, an orchestral percussionist and jazz drummer, was raised in the Russian Orthodox religion. He and Blagovest Bells, the maker of Russian bell instrument “zvonnitsa,” hope to share this traditional artform nationally through their mobile set-up, constructed between 2015 and 2017, which includes a peal of 6 traditional Russian Bells cast in the Ural Mountains and 2 bass Russian Flat Bells (Bilos) made in Moscow, Russia.

“It was very emotional for me because I knew most of the audience had never heard the Russian Bells before, and I was trying to give them a real Russian musical and cultural experience,” recalls Avdienko of the Sun Valley performances. “Many people told me that they were moved by the glorious sounds, and they learned a lot about the history and the cultural significance of my presentation.”

The announcement of the uniqueness of the Russian bells performance comes as the Symphony prepares to announce their 2018 season, which promises newly commissioned works as well, including a multimedia projection performance paired live with the orchestra for the season finale. Last year’s Symphony season introduced 3 other commissioned firsts: the woworld premieres of “Songs of Joy” by Time for Three, “Breaking Light” by Alex Orfaly and “Poseidon” by Anthony DiLorenzo.

For more information on the Sun Valley Summer Symphony, visit their website at svsummersymphony.org. For more information on Blagovest Bells, visit www.russianbells.com and Victor Avdienko, visit www.afishingmusician.com.

February 1, 2018