Sounds of Belarusian bagpipes

On 17 May, before the performance of the ballet Vitaut the visitors of the theatre will be able to hear and see the old Belarusian bagpipe “duda” play in the lobby of the theatre. There also will be a  mini-exhibition representing the reconstructed instruments from the Museum of the Belarusian State University of Culture and Arts and the items from the private collection of the master and promoter of this event Alexander Surba, Ph. D., who will speak before the audience.

Alexander Surba deals with the study, restoration and promotion of the Belarusian duda (bagpipes). He is frequently invited for the reconstruction of the instruments that are in the collections of the museums in Russia, Great Britain and, of course, in the museums of Belarus. Alexander teaches at the University of Culture and Arts, in addition to his intensive scientific work, he is the keeper of the University Museum of historical instruments.

The master claims, that according to Belarusian folklore and traditional mythological culture, one can say that the Belarusian duda is far older than similar instruments of Western Europe, including Scottish bagpipes. But, unfortunately, in the mid-twentieth century, the Belarusian duda virtually disappeared from musical culture and is not mentioned anywhere. Today, however, thanks to the efforts of passionate people, the instrument is going through its own Renaissance: there are already three generations of artists who study, restore, and pay the Belarusian duda.

‘Several instruments from our collection, reconstructed according to the photos of the lost ancient instruments and the photos themselves will be presented at the exhibition at the Bolshoi Theatre of Belarus,’ says Alexander Surba. ‘During my presentation I will share some facts about the instruments from our personal collections, I will aslo talk about the current state of pipe culture in Belarus, Poland, Sweden, France, Scotland, Germany, and other countries. The musicians from the folk group "Mlyn Sontsa” (Mill of the Sun) will perform songs with duda. I think that the audience will truly appreciate the programme and will be curious enough to ask questions which will stir up an interesting discussion.’