This podcast is about Pia Siirala’s first 3-month field trip to Chukotka to research the music of its indigenous people.
Chukotka is a border zone. If one were to ask many people worldwide what the distance between the United States of America and Russia is, many would answer “huge”. Actually, it takes little more than an hour to fly between the US and Russia across the Bering Strait, from Alaska to Chukotka. As a result, getting to Chukotka is not an easy task.
Even Russians need special permission and of course, as foreigners, even with multiple entry visas, we must apply for special permits.
Pia describes, in the podcast, her endless wait for these permissions and yet there was relative calm amongst border officials once she got to Chukotka. There is no doubt that a Finnish musician with a violin on her shoulder melted many a heart of officialdom.
In this stunningly beautiful and wild land of Chukotka, Pia visited several indigenous villages and met with and was helped by the local people. As a result, she recorded fifty indigenous Chukchi, Yupik and Chuvanch peoples who sang almost 700 songs for her.
Therefore, It was a great honour that Ensemble XXI has received an invitation from the Department of Culture of the Chukotkan Government to tour to its Capital, Anadyr, in the Spring of 2020, to play the compositions of Pia Siirala, based on Chukotkan indigenous music. Unfortunately, as with many artists worldwide, our work as artists as been curtailed by Covid-19. We still live in hope, month after month, that this tour will eventually take place.
This podcast has been translated into English from Finnish by Pia Siirala and Lygia O’Riordan and narrated in English by Lygia O’Riordan.