Romany (Gypsy) Music from Around the World

The Romany (Gypsy) musical legacy is most notably characterized by its clever synthesis of known musical genres with the lesser known or unknown. VIA ROMEN is the embodiment of this legacy, of lacing tradition with novelty and offering unprecedented interpretations of that which we already know.

VIA ROMEN is a US-based ensemble whose music and dances are rooted in the Russian-Romany tradition. They enchant audiences with intricate improvisations, catchy tunes and flashy footwork.

Founded in 2004, Via Romen has performed to glowing reviews across North America and has established itself as the continent’s premier Russian-Romany (Gypsy) group.

Nuevo Russian–Romany Music is a new style, the original creation of Via Romen members. Drawn from a vast repertoire originating in Eastern and Western Europe and enriched by jazz, Jewish, and Latino styles, this music is modern, innovative, fresh and often deeply emotional.

The Via Romen band consists of Vadim Kolpakov (Russian seven-string guitar, dance and vocals), Arkadiy Gips(violin and backup vocals), Eugenia Zolotariova (vocals), and Petra Gelbart (vocals, percussion). In addition, Via Romen features dancer and choreographer Marina Shanefelter, virtuoso accordionist Sergiu Popa and other guest artists.

Two of the performers, Vadim Kolpakov and Arkadiy Gips, were part of Madonna’s “Sticky & Sweet” 2008/2009 world tour as members of the Kolpakov Trio.

Individual Bios

vkVadim Kolpakov (founder and artistic director of VIA ROMEN) is a virtuoso Russian-Romany (Gypsy) seven-string guitarist, dancer and vocalist. A graduate of the Romany performing arts school Gilori, he studied guitar with his uncle and mentor Alexander Kolpakov in Moscow. At the age of 15, Vadim joined the Moscow Romen Gypsy Theater as a guitarist, vocalist, dancer and dramatic actor. Since then, Vadim has performed extensively in Russia and abroad, he has given concerts in Carnegie Hall (New York City) as well as in the Kremlin (Moscow). He has participated in numerous musical projects on Russian, Canadian, Finnish and American television and radio. He was an artist-in-residence at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2006-2007.

In 2008-2009, Vadim Kolpakov went on tour with Madonna as a performer in her “Sticky & Sweet” world tour. In addition to being the founder of Via Romen, Vadim performs in the ensemble Zingaresca and as a special guest with various U.S. artists and bands. His musical repertoire includes Russian- and Romany-style compositions by Alexander Kolpakov, 19th-century Russian seven-string guitar repertoire, and his own compositions and improvisations on Romany, Russian, classical, jazz, hip hop and world music. For more information about Vadim, please visit at www.VadimKolpakov.com

pgPetra Gelbart (lead vocals, accordion and dance), a founding member of Via Romen, is a Romany (Gypsy) singer, activist and scholar who is at home both in the Czech Republic and the U.S. She completed her Ph.D. at Harvard University with a dissertation entitled “Learning Music, Race and Nation in the Czech Republic.” She is the co-founder of New York University’s Initiative for Romani Music and has been on the State University of New York (Purchase) faculty. Petra combines the Romany vocal production she learned from her family with elements drawn from more improvisational and popular genres. Accompanying herself on the guitar and accordion, she has performed as a soloist on many stages in the USA and abroad, including Sanders Theatre in Cambridge, Boston College, as well as Romany festivals in California and the Czech Republic.

agArkadiy Gips (violin, backup vocals) has been making a powerful mark on the American music scene ever since he emigrated from Ukraine in 1994. Being a laureate of many national and international music competitions, Gips became a well-known violinist in Eastern Europe. Arkadiy has performed with many noted musicians, playing a wide variety of music ranging from jazz and country to minority-ethnic and classical styles. After founding and performing with Amazing Strings for many years, Gips and the trio released their first CD, Yiddishe Soul. In collaboration with guitarist Neil Jacobs and bassist John Douglas, Arkadiy was featured on American Gypsy, nominated for AIMA Album of the Year. Dialogue, a duet consisting of Gips and pianist/composer Mikhail Popov, has been known nationwide for its dynamically rhythmic self-titled debut and energetic live performances. Today, Arkadiy Gips continues to embrace his love for music and his culture. He and world-renowned seven-string guitarist Vadim Kolpakov have been performing Romany music for audiences in the USA and Canada. More recently, Arkadiy was invited to perform in Madonna’s “Sticky and Sweet” tour as part of the Kolpakov Trio, gracing audiences worldwide and adding new colors to a previously unexplored genre.

jzEugenia Zolotariova (lead vocals) is a multi-lingual professional Romani (Gypsy) singer. She performs solo and with Via Romen. She also performs with several Russian artists including the New York-based Russian folk ensemble Barynya, led by Mikhail Smirnov. Originally from the former USSR Republic of Moldova, Eugenia was born in a Romani family of performers. Eugenia’s natural talent was observed at an early age, and her family saw that she acquire training in Western classical music at the Conservatory of Music from Chishinau. There she earned her degree in Western European classical vocal arts, and at the same time began her professional career singing Romani, Russian and Romanian folk repertoire.

spSergiu Popa (accordion), a virtuoso accordionist originally from a Romani family dynasty of musicians in Moldova (former USSR), has become a vital part of Montreal’s music scene since his arrival in 2002. Never failing to provide mind-melting performances of traditional East European music, he also has the amazing ability to instantly blend into any other style of music, bringing fresh ideas into every mix. Sergiu is the winner of the Radio Canada Étoiles Galaxie award (2007) and the Prix Diversité (2008), and was awarded second place at the Roland V-accordion Competition (2009). He has performed and recorded both as soloist and as a member of his multicultural ensemble, which toured Quebec’s festivals. A frequent guest artist and collaborator with other local acts such as SoCalled, Kaba Horo and the Fanfare Severni klezmer brass band, Sergiu also got Montreal’s clubs jumping with his authentic Gypsy music band, Shukar Roma. Recent highlights in 2012 included participation at the Montreal Jazz Festival and performing with the legendary Romani brass band from Europe, Fanfare Ciocarlia. For more information about Sergiu, please visit at www.SergiuPopa.com

mkMarina Shanefelter (dance) is a professional dancer, choreographer and instructor, originally from Estonia. Marina specializes in Flamenco, Latin and Russian-Romany (Gypsy) dances. She has performed in countries such as Russia, Estonia, Spain, Finland, Canada and the US. Since moving to the US she has taught and performed with the Carolinas Latin Dance Company, participated with the Charlotte Salsa Dance Company and Argentinean Tango Society, and created choreography for companies such as Opera Carolina and others. Currently Marina performs with the US-based ensemble Via Romen and teaches in her private studio in Charlotte, NC.

Guest artists

Alexander Menshikov is a New York based singer, originally from Russia. He studied singing at The Gnesin’s Academy in Moscow, the most prestigious school for vocalists in Russia. Mr. Menshikov is a professional singer with many years of experience. He performs as a soloist as well as a lead singer with the largest Russian folk music and dance ensemble outside of Russia – www.Barynya.com

Nick Sergienko (piano) is from Vancouver, Canada and holds a master’s degree in classical piano studies. He plays and improvises freely on piano, organ, and keyboard in classical, jazz, and world music styles. He has performed many concerts over the past 18 years as a soloist and alongside other musicians. Nick has graced the stages of well-known London theatres and concert halls such as the George Bernard Shaw Theatre, London Astoria, Kensington Gallery Concert Hall, Shepherd’s Bush Empire and he has also played in Russia, Germany, Ireland, Scotland, and France. In London Nick worked with renowned Russian PR companies, actors, and musicians such us Levon Aganesov, Seva Novgorodsev, Yuri Shevchuk, Artem Troitsky, Maxim Leonidov, and Arkadi Arcanov. In Russia Nick was a music director and producer at the Ministry of Culture. Since 2005 Nick has been the director of Amadeus Music Academy in West Vancouver, performing in a range of styles with outstanding Canadian and American musicians; producing shows, directing choirs and music bands in NLUC.

Oleg Timofeyev Lutenist, guitarist, musicologist, and documentary film director, Oleg Timofeyev was born to a musical family that gave the world several generations of professional musicians. He received his first music lessons from his mother, an excellent cello player. Later he studied classical guitar with the famous Muscovite teacher Kamil Frautschi. In 1989, Oleg Timofeyev was invited to the University of Iowa as an Artist-in-Residence. A few years later he received his M.A. in Early Music Performance from the USC, under the guidance of the famous lutenist James Tyler. In 1999, Timofeyev defended his Ph.D. dissertation “The Golden Age of the Russian Guitar: Repertoire, Performance Practice, and Social Function of the Russian Seven-String Guitar, 1800-1850” at Duke University under the supervision of Prof. Peter Williams. Dr. Timofeyev has recorded more than a dozen of solo and ensemble albums to great critical acclaim worldwide. He has been taught at universities and conservatoires in the US, Russia, and Ukraine.

Dr. Timofeyev has been offering courses at the University of Iowa since 1999. His signature courses include “The Cult Films of the Last Soviet Generation,” “An Invitation to Nabokov,” and “Romani (‘Gypsy’) Cultures of Eastern Europe.” He began making films in 2000, and received several awards (including “Best Full-Length Documentary,” WIMFF, Washington, DC, 2011). As a film composer, he wrote and recorded soundtracks for three Canadian documentaries (including “Fotograf,” Chemodan-Film, 2009) www.russian-guitar.com