Three worlds become one as Windmill turns kindly

Valeria Kurbatova, Luce Zurita and Shiry Rashkovsky are The Globe Ensemble who played at Swineshead Village Hall for the Windmill Studio 50th Anniversary Concert before Easter.
Valeria Kurbatova, Luce Zurita and Shiry Rashkovsky are The Globe Ensemble who played at Swineshead Village Hall for the Windmill Studio 50th Anniversary Concert before Easter.
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How lucky were Swineshead to have had the artistry, craft and expertise of three classically-trained musicians in their village?

The Globe Ensemble, formed in 2013 with Russian harpist Valeria Kurbatova, French fluatist Luce Zurita and London-born violist Shiry Rashkovsky, were given the honour of performing the 50th anniversary Windmill Studio concert.

Valeria said: “I and Luce had been playing together as a duo for a while before that and then we just thought it would be a great idea to expand to being a trio.

“We were lucky enough to meet Shiry at the Royal College of Music, London, and we decided to play together.”

Luce said: “The Royal College of Music was an amazing place to be, so exciting culturally to have this great environment and you meet wonderful musicians and wonderful teachers as well.”

The Globe Ensemble is Britain’s premier harp, flute and viola trio

Russian harpist Valeria Kurbatova, French flautist Luce Zurita and London-born violinist/violist Shiry Rashkovsky.

Russian harpist Valeria Kurbatova, French flautist Luce Zurita and London-born violinist/violist Shiry Rashkovsky.

But the trio weren’t content to bring a predictable programme to Swineshead, deciding instead to mix Ravel and Debussy with more contemporary works by Theodore Dubois and Ladislas Rohozinski.

It was a concert worthy of Bettina Houlder, founder of the Windmill Studio series in 1966 when she was a music teacher in Spalding.

Shiry said: “Bettina is very positive about it and hugely committed to the project.

“She speaks very highly of it and it’s clearly her child, so it was quite important for us to devise a programme which shows the full capacity of each instrument.

The Windmill Studio 50th Anniversary Concert audience wasn’t disappointed and to be able to hear such superb music played by talented young artists in our remote venue was a treat indeed

Andrew and Judith Russell

“We could have constructed a programe just as a trio, with lots of colours and themes.

“But it wouldn’t have shown absolutely everything that each instrument can do, each combination and to bring as many colours to the performance as you can.”

The trio are linked by sharing the experience of having studied at the Royal College of Music, London, along with their musical partnership.

Shiry pursues an international solo, chamber, teaching and orchestral career

Andrew and Judith Russell said: “We attended the Windmill Studio 50th Anniversary Concert at Swineshead on March 11 and, as usual, the audience wasn’t disappointed as we were treated to a most enjoyable programme of French music composed or arranged in the early 20th century.

“The three very different instruments blended remarkably well and their dynamic range, particularly that of the harp, was outstanding.

“To be able to hear such superb music played by talented young artists in our remote venue was a treat indeed.”

The excellence demonstrated in Swineshead was the result of years of practice, dedication and skill honed in Moscow (Valeria), London (Shiry) and France (Luce) respectively.

Valeria said: “I started playing the harp when I was eight because I just always wanted to play an (musical) instrument.

“I didn’t think it would be the harp but the school in Moscow where my parents sent me offered people the chance to play the harp and, since then, I have been playing the harp and piano.”

London-based harpist Valeria Kurbatova started her musical career at the age of eight

In Shiry’s case, she was born into a musical family and started learning the violin aged five under the guidance of Romanian-born mother Ani Schnarch and her Russian-Israeli father Itzhak Rashkovsky.

Meanwhile, Luce studied at the prestigious Paris IV-Sorbonne University whose previous graduates include Piere and Marie Curie.

As an orchestral flautist, Luce went on to play under two of the world’s greatest conductors, Russian Vladimir Ashkenazy and Dutchman Bernard Haitink.

“It was an amazing opportunity to play under them while at college which they were visiting, and (while there), conducted the orchestra.”

Luce Zurita is a French-born, London-based flautist

Next up for The Globe Ensemble is a performance at the Brickwall Music & Arts Society in Kent on April 16 at 7.30pm when the programme will include works by Debussy, Ravel and Rohozinski.

Valeria said “A harp, flute and viola trio isn’t really a rare thing but not many people have taken it to such a professional level in terms of performing.

“That’s why we’re trying to play more concerts in order to let people discover the combination.

“A string quartet is more common but people don’t see our combination as often unfortunately and that’s why we’re trying to change that.

“All our instruments can be very experimental in terms of different sound techniques and there are lots and lots of great pieces written in the 20th century for our combination of instruments.

Both Valeria and Luce have had the pleasure of performing for British royalty in the persons of Prince Michael of Kent and Prince Charles, at a 65th birthday performance held at Buckingham Palace, respectively.

valeriakurbatova.com/about/

But all three consider it to be a priority to bring “the music of the masters to the masses” at venues such as Swineshead Village Hall.

Shiry said: “It’s something that I’m very passionate about as I personally give a lot of outreach concerts, mostly outdoor concerts, throughout the country for families.

“I think it’s extremely important because if you’re not in London, music of a high calibre is not so accessible and you have to looking for it.

“So we think it’s important to bring it to people whereever they are.”

Shiry Rashkovsky and Robin Green form a highly charged and musically thoughtful duo

United states of music find Swineshead golden for Windmill Studios’ jubilee

Swineshead’s Windmill of wonders turns 50 in March

Review and interview by Winston Brown