Polina Shepherd’s vocal performances have passion, strength and power not often encountered in our global village. Bringing together elements of east European Jewish ornamentation and Russian folk song, her style, though based on traditional forms, cuts a unique sound; one that is so clearly and so identifiably hers.
No stranger to social singing at gatherings such as weddings, family parties, and celebrations, Polina was born in Siberia and grew up in a Russian Jewish home where songs were frequently sung at table after eating borsht and drinking homemade wine. Her grandfather, a bayanist (button accordion player) and her mother, a professional singer would often perform together for hours while Polina listened with the hungry ears of a child, learning deeply rooted traditions throughout her early years.
Whilst living in Kazan (capital of Tatarstan) and studying at the State Academy, Polina joined Russia’s first klezmer band for 60 years, Simcha. She soon became the principal Yiddish choir leader of the former Soviet Union, composing original material for large groups of voices and touring internationally with herQuartet Ashkenazim.
Currently bringing all her early experiences to the front, Polina has composed original songs and is performing them with a Brighton based brass band Fanfara. Using the fierce tempos and tonality of east European gypsy brass music and Russian song thrown in with a generous handful of Yiddish, the collaboration creates a fresh and rich new style full of wildness, improvisation and danceable rhythms. All with great sensitivity and deep musicality.
As a pianist she works in the Sound & Light Cinematic Duo performing live accompaniment to rare black and white silent films. She also plays in the Merlin Shepherd Quartet who bring together the music of Jewish eastern Europe, Greece and Turkey.
As a representative artist of The Brighton Festival of World Sacred Music, Polina says, “Music is the Voice of the Universe where every note has a reason.”