Polina's singing is based on traditional forms and cuts a unique sound deeply rooted in east European Jewish and Russian folk song.Growing up in Tatarstan also placed her close to Islamic ornamentation and timbre which can be heard in her unique vocal style and four octave range. For her vocal power, she has been called the Robert Plant of Klezmer (Seth Rogovoy, The Essential Klezmer).
Performed a cappella and with piano where the voice and the piano sound merge in one sonic wave, often improvised and never the same. Concerts are often performed non-stop and ofter include audience participation. Polina presents a variety of original songs in Russian and Yiddish, often composed to her own poetry. She also performs a lot of folklore and interprets classical pieces, all with attention to the original styles. Her programme themes are often about beauty in the heart surrounded by madness in the world, about inner power, deep humanity and spirituality. Her multi-lingual, multi-cultural, and multi-faceted weave of songs takes one on a deep emotional journey.
Here are some of Polna's solo concert programmes. Voice and piano.
Zhatva (Harvest) is an old Slavic sequence of rituals marking the main parts the harvest. In early times it had magical associations and this programme brings it the magic back in. In the end of the harvest, the last sheaf, intertwined with flowers or dressed in woman’s clothes, was solemnly carried into the village or left in the field until the next harvest. This programme is about the time of the year when traditional folk celebrates the fullness of life and our inner harvest – the full-hearted experience of life. Traditional ritual songs to influence the weather, other songs of the summer and autumn folk calendar, laments, lyrical and family songs, circle dance songs and songs about the cycle of life. Polina Shepherd invites you to join the celebration. Most songs are in Russian, also in Yiddish and Ukrainian. Attention: the concert is interactive and you may find yourself singing and clapping along!
My Goat is on the Roof!
Glasses of Wine. Festival of Light.
Here comes a firework of joyous songs. Here comes a celebration: a mixture of original, classical, and folk songs mainly in Yiddish and Russian, including a few world premieres. This new, multi-lingual, multi-cultural, and multi-faceted weave of songs will take you on a deep emotional journey. A few drinking songs, a few ballads and grandparents’ tales mixed with some sweet dreamy folklore plus – as always – a few songs for us all to participate in. Yes, beware: the concert is interactive and you may find yourself singing, clapping along and possibly even dancing!
Fervent Longing. Erotic and Holy Yiddish song cycles
This is a cycle of four songs to lyrics by Troim Katz Handler, Yiddish love-letter poems with extended piano and vocal solos. As it says in the book, “Ranging from playful to startlingly intimate, Troim Katz Handler’s much-lauded poetry is steeped in the language of passion and deals with both the emotional blessings and bruises that accompany intimacy, as two imaginary lovers celebrate a love that must be kept hidden.”
Composed in 2021, Polina’s music gives a good new dimension to these expressions of passion. Yiddish musical eros. It’s very open but decent and beautiful and it’s certainly line nothing else.
Then we take quite a sharp turn! The rest of the programme has a strong connection to the holiest subjects: five liturgical texts translated into Yiddish with Polina’s music certainly don’t sound like what you hear in Jewish prayers in a synagogue. Coming from a woman with a socialist background, who once tried to convert to Judaism but decided not to so she’d be a musician… It’s honest, it’s secular and deeply spiritual.
The programme ends with two gorgeous ballads about a holy man (lyrics by I. Manger and Z. Landau), who embraces the whole Universe with his mind and takes the whole Earth into his heart, who equally accepts day and night, cold and heat, death and life.