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I love you, don’t leave

Thursday, 18th of November, 2021. Nadezhda Utkina performs a guitar and voice recital as part of the "Memories" project, in which several musicians explain their life experience with music. She takes us, through her little village, to that home of traditional music that we all carry within us, each of us in our own particular way.

Жила была (jila byla)... -that's how Russian fairy tales begin, it would be like our "once upon a time"-; Жила была a girl called Nadezhda Utkina. She was born in Udmurt, a European republic of the Russian Federation; its capital is Izhevsk and it has its own language, Udmurt. The region consists of a flattened hill, valleys, rivers, marshy plains and other small, low-lying farmlands...

Nadezhda Utkina begins the concert with "Snow Is So White", a traditional Udmurt song. The song is about flowers and colours; Utkina's costume is full of flowers, and she wears a turban on her head, which gives it a personal, endearing, interesting tone.

The singer takes the audience into her childhood world by narrating a tender, fragile and joyful story that is hard not to be moved by. When she was a little girl, her mother used to sing lullabies to her. Utkina sings one of her mother's lullabies, and then one she composed for her son when he was young. Do those of us in the audience remember any of the lullabies our mothers sang to us?

The artist creates a story of autobiographical episodes that unfold through the music. We witness the farewell to the father, and the moment when Utkina left, accompanied by traditional Udmurt songs such as "You Said Goodbye" and "Where Did I Meet You?”. The story illustrates the spirit of the people of the village, based on love and community; they do not like to say goodbye, they like to be together and joyful.

The melancholic tone of the concert is enlivened when the artist sings "Party for everybody". Utkina's vitality is contagious, her joy and strength, in good times and bad. If we knew her songs, we'd all be singing along. Yet, even though we don't know them, there is always a common element between her songs and ours, the songs of each of us; it's this deeply human, traditional thing, the familiar, welcoming tone.

The explanation of the first years of studying music and the introduction to the singing profession leads Utkina to perform some pieces by probably the best composer in the world: Tchaikovsky. She then recalls when she was a school teacher and adapted a religious psalm, transformed into a poem by a friend. She also tells of the relationship she had with a Frenchman, and how during her stay in France she fell in love with Edith Piaf, of whom she sings "L'hymne à l’amour".

She closes the concert with other pieces of hers and two duets with her friend - also a singer - Larisa Zorina: "Don’t You Leave" and "We’ll Never Part". At the end, the audience grabs each other's shoulders and sings Utkina's melody together. It is about love and remembrance.

In the performance, the guitar - well played - acted as a beautiful pillow for Utkina's melodic voice. The singer showed a great ability to sing everything as if it was simple, to make very difficult modulations with the voice without losing the tone and to bring us, from a tender voice colour, closer to this world of colourful memories that she intended to recreate.

The walls of the room, full of paintings, and where a few decades ago someone lived - with their particular loves and memories - accompanied the sweet evening in which we laughed, cried, sang... Utkina reminded us that love should be the reason for all actions. And, as we don't like to say goodbye, we decided that there was no need to do so; we will always meet again in the shared memory.

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