about

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.

snow in Kazan

photo by Adela Nurullina

Breathtaking vocals.

    Musician

    Shepherds compositions are highly original and sensitive… Polinas piano playing enhances her distinctly beautiful compositions. The music expresses contemplation, exuberance, humour and pathos.

    Songlines

Born in Siberia, Polina Shepherd (Skovoroda) learned music as a child around the family table. Now an internationally renowned singer of Russian and Yiddish song, she performs with an explosive mixture of powerful rhythm and profound melodies. Traditional yet modern, she brings the songs of the Steppes and the Shtetl up to date with passion and haunting soul. 

Whilst living in Kazan (capital of Tatarstan) and studying at the State Academy, Polina joined Russia′s first klezmer band after Perestroika, Simcha (1990-2000). 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 her Quartet Ashkenazim (1991-2007).

Polina’s choir work is united by the umbrella of The Polina Shepherd Vocal Experience and covers many aspects of vocal music from solo voice to large scale choral improvisation or highly arranged and conducted choir pieces and smaller chamber groups. Choir leader the Award Winning Russian choir of Brighton & Hove since 2007, the London Yiddish choir and the London Russian Choir since 2013.

Polina teaches choral workshops internationally. Her specially developed choral teaching methods are based on specific East European sound, ornamentation, modal experimentation with attention to stylistic details, history and context. For Jewish music based choral workshops, she teaches Hassidic Nigunim – the age old songs without words and Yiddish songs. Polina’s Russian choral repertoire covers Russian classics and folklore: ritual calendar songs for pagan holidays, exorcism and sibylline song, wedding songs, weeping songs all with correct attention to history and style.As a Russian and Yiddish singer worked and recorded with a remix artist Max Pashm in Never Mind the Balkans, a Romanian Gypsy style brass band Fanfara and many others.

One of Polina’s latest projects is a trio with Lorin Sklamberg and Merlin Shepherd which brings the world of traditional and newly composed Yiddish and Russian song blended with Klezmer and southern Mediterranean Music. As a pianist works with the Sound & Light Cinematic Duo (UK), who play live accompaniment to rare black and white films.Programme director for International Klezmer Music Festival and Seminar in Moscow in 2005 and 2006, the International Festival of Jewish Culture and the Competition of Jewish musicians in Kazan, Russia in 2002 and 2003. Jewish song and choir tutor at International Jewish events: Furth (2007), Klezfest London (2004-11), Klezmer Paris (2005, 2008), Moscow (2005-06), Kharkov Klezmer Teg (2003, 2013), Klezfest Kiev (2000-2005), Lviv (2013-2014), Jewish Festival in Kazan (2001-03, 2013), Sheshory’2007-Podilsky in Nemirov, Ukraine, Kleztival Brazil (2010-2014) and many others. Lecturer on Jewish music at the Centre of History and Culture of Jewish People, Kazan State University, 2002-03. In 2008-09, Polina worked for Glyndebourne Education in 2008-2009.

Yiddish Music adviser for a theatre show production Paul, strange Kind of a Hero in Brighton UK by Goodcompanymedia, April 2007. Music Director and composer at Coventry BelgradeTheatre for the production of Marriage by N. gogol, 2013.About 100 compositions including music for theatre shows, large scale choir compositions, settings for Yiddish poems, piano work, and niggunim performed by soloists and choirs all over the world.

Polina Shepherd by Polina Shepherd
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