Parisian evening: The Russian Diaspora In California

20:40 01.11.2013 • Elena Studneva , columnist for "International Affairs" magazine

Russian compatriots living and working in different countries and cities, certainly find common interests, not only in the professional sphere, but also in their leisure time, which there is very little of, generally speaking. However, the Russian diaspora in Sacramento (California) has presented itself as an appreciative audience for classical chamber performance, which allowed for just one evening to forget California’s hustle and bustle and to "visit" Paris.

 We received a more detailed account specifically written for "International Affairs" magazine from Taisia Suvorova, Vice- President of the "Wings" foundation, which unites Russian compatriots in Sacramento.

Everything was mixed up and entwined in the Natalia Shamrock and Sergei Vinogradov house on that unforgettable Saturday night in Sacramento. The house is on the shores of Pine Lake, and the evening event was called a “Parisian evening”. Why? Because the show was based on the lyrical sketches of Natasha Owen, which were played in this hospitable house, and were also called "My Paris".

This cultural event has become attractive and even intriguing, because until recently, very few of our countrymen knew that the Honorary Consul of the Russian Federation in Sacramento, Natasha Owen, was also a brilliant writer with her elegant style, gentle charm, and filigree chronicles. A colleague of Mrs. Owen, Deputy Consul General of the Russian Federation in San Francisco, Vyacheslav Slavkin, awaited the start of the performance with unconcealed anticipation...


Moving, touching sketches demand specific solutions. That’s why this genre of literary and musical performance was chosen. The authors of the composition, the directors and actors, were in fact one and the same people! Natasha Owen and Natasha Shamrock wrote the screenplay and read out the texts themselves working together with other performers: Sergei Vinogradov, Irina Shulgina, and Sergei Nemolyaev. Who else played in these expressive, witty, sad and cheeky scenes without words? Dmitry Levko, Valery Rotar, Tatiana Dragni, Maxim Hyuvenen, Karina Hyuvenen, and Andrei Kovalev proved to be true masters of the performance. The audience applauded them heartily! But that was to come later...


Meanwhile, at the beginning, one guest after another was welcomed by Three Musketeers who helped them to park their cars. Their imaginations were teased by the aroma of roasted chestnuts, which were artfully managed, and treated to those wanting to try them, by a veteran "French" sailor, Maxim Hyuvenen. After enthusiastic cheers and a promenade around the house, quenching their thirst with a glass of champagne (a real one, a French one!), the guests had perked up considerably. At first it seemed that the actors listed in the program were in no hurry to take the stage, because they were also amongst the guests, equals among equals! But later, when the performance came into its own, it became clear that the time for action, as well as the place, were not chosen at random.

 Natasha's story ... was a very musical one, and very picturesque. That's why the performers needed such an unusual stage, magical surroundings and such music. The scene is set in a corner by a fireplace in a great hall, two stories high with a full wall of windows, into which the evening seamlessly flowed with a blue light, close and distant reflections of lights and even ... some snowfall ! Behind the scenes was an immense veranda, where during the course of the performance, the action also took place. The atmosphere of the performance absolutely needed this fantastic, breathtaking sunset and the deep color behind the window also played its role, the role of a canvas against which Parisian Life appeared in all its diversity and appeal.


The delicate lyrics about the Parisian Autumn, the Gare de Lyon, Louis XIV, an amazing city, the citizens and just about the happiness brought a real delight to the audience. So it was pleasant for all of us to discover a new name and a new talent! Expressive portraits created by Natasha Owen, glittered with all the colors of the music framed from Rachmaninoff, Chopin and Paganini to Legrand and Ellington. The musicians tried to artfully weave together this wreath of songs, plays and fantasies: Tatiana Scott (piano), Oleg Vysochin (saxophone), Nicholas Prisakaru (accordion), Irina Bekdzhanova (violin) and Yuri Drotyev (electronic music) rose to the occasion! The Parisian evening was organized by the “Wings” Charity Foundation with the support of the Consulate General of the Russian Federation in San Francisco and the Slavic-American Chamber of Commerce. Those who were lucky enough to take part in this evening were unanimous in the opinion that this has become quite an event in the cultural life of our city...


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