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Gypsy Trio Loyko in Ottawa

By Adele Grosman

For millennia, two groups: Jews and Gypsies have been global wanderers. From the beginning of the Common Era until quite recently, Jews have lived amidst many cultures not their own. To preserve their identity, in a sea of foreign culture, Jewish people have always deemed it wiser to incorporate foreign cultural elements into the Jewish mainstream than to resist all outer influence absolutely. The Gypsies came from Northern India in a series of migrations starting around 1000.
Gypsies are famed for their ability to make music. However, they were once so reviled that wealthy Hungarians hired Jewish klezmer musicians to play Gypsy music rather than have them do it themselves. That Jewish musicians were able to fill in rather competently, testifies to the rich musical history that the two groups shared. In the 17th century, Jewish musicians fleeing the wars and pogroms of Central and Eastern Europe joined forces with Gypsy performers to tour the southern reaches of the old Ottoman Empire, sharing melodies and musical techniques along the way. Ultimately the Greco-Turkish and Gypsy dance music these klezmorim encountered, helped shape the klezmer style in Eastern Romania (today's Moldova), just as traditional Russian and Slovakian music influenced Ukrainian and Polish klezmer.
The old-time Klezmer was a traveling musician much like a Gypsy, and he wandered through most of the countries of Eastern Europe including Russia, Poland, Romania, Hungary and probably Czechoslovakia. They picked up influences from many cultures and added them to their repertoire. Gypsy musicians, meanwhile, became valued members of many klezmer ensembles.
Those who attended the performance of Trio Loyko last year, remember the electricity in the audience and the standing ovation at the end of the concert. Nobody wanted to let them leave the stage. Musicians really gave everything in this concert.
The world renowned virtuoso Russian Gypsy ensemble Loyko - two fiddles and a guitar - was established by Sergey Erdenko in 1990 in London. The band name originated from Loyko Zabar - a famous 19th century gypsy fiddler who traveled around the campfires of Russia creating legends wherever he went. Impressed by the Irish thriving traditional and contemporary music scene, the band moved to Dublin, and was based in Ireland for ten years until Sergey's return back home to Russia in 2000.
All Loyko's players: Sergey Erdenko, Vladimir Bessonov (a new member, who just joined the ensemble in 2007) and Michael Savichev being educated at Russia's classical conservatories, bring a technical and tonal brilliance to their largely traditional repertoire that's far more refined than the raw approach of many traditional Gypsy ensembles. Still, the group manages to capture the emotional eruptions typical of Gypsy music
Sergei Erdenko - gypsy violinists, is a member of one of Russia's oldest clans of Gypsy musicians. In their family's 300 years tradition boys learn the violin and girls practice singing and dancing. Sergey's great grandfather, Mikhail Erdenko, - a famous violinist, who was the first to gain international recognition, becoming a professor of music at the Moscow Conservatory. Leo Tolstoy was his friend and admirer. By the way, Mikhail Erdenko was asked by Leo Tolstoy to make the arrangement of the Jewish prayer Col Nidrey.
Sergei Erdenko began to play the violin at five. Virtuoso musician, being attracted by the magic of theatre, he graduated from the Moscow Theatre Academy as a drama actor in addition to his musical education. Sergei is well known for his roles in several Moscow acting companies.
One of his theater roles for which he received great acclaim in 90th was a role of Jewish violinist Sashka in the play - "Gambrinus" by A.Kuprin. This role made him famous overnight.
In addition to the instrumental music, Loyko pays much attention to the vocal tradition of Russian Gypsies. Their repertoire ranges from both modern and old Gypsy songs, ballads and romances to new compositions. The combination of two fiddles and guitar, together with three-part vocals, gives their music great depth and flexibility.
Since its formation, Loyko have given over 2 thousand concerts all over the world. Loyko played and recorded with such musicians as Gidon Cremer, Andre Heller, Yehudi Menuhin, Stephane Grappelli, Ravi Shankar, Rony Wood, Calman Baloc, Mstislav Rostropovich, etc. on most prestigious stages of Europe and America - Albert and Queen Elizabeth Halls in London, Tchaikovsky Concert Hall in Moscow, Olympia in Paris, Opera House in Vienna, Stuttgart, Luxemburg, and Paris conservatories, etc. They have appeared on various radio and TV shows all over Europe and were heard across Canada on CBC Radio Two in Roots & Wings world-roots music program. Loyko released 10 solo albums and the DVD album "Return of Gypsy Maestro", which was recorded live on the stage of Tchaikovsky concert hall in Moscow.

Russian Gypsy trio Loyko will perform in Ottawa on Sunday, November 25, at 7:30 P.M at Dominion-Chalmers United Church, 355 Cooper Street.
Do not miss it.
For ticket information call Adele Grosman at 613-731-0476, email: or visit


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