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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

PAPARAZZI: Russian Eyes Smile at Irish Music Festival




Roy Galvin comes from County Tipperary in Ireland, plays a rare Celtic instrument and runs a center for Celtic culture out of his house. Not surprisingly, he is a bit worried that some people might stereotype him.


"I've got to be very careful that I don't end up trying to be what they think I should be," he said. " I know I look Celtic and that's fine -- I am -- but I've got to be careful not to end up as a version of myself."


An Irish champion on the uilleann pipes and a member of bands including The Chieftains, Galvin was the headline act at the first Moscow Celtic Music Festival Saturday.


Promoting Celtic culture has become the focus of Galvin's life. In January he turned his home in County Tipperary into Tig Roy, or Roy's House, a center for Irish culture, providing instruction in language, literature, poetry, visual arts and dance as well as music.


"It's just an extension of my life," he said, "I joked about being too lazy to go to work and wanting work to come to me. It's happened."


Moscow Celtic Society organizer Lia Kuligina was delighted to have Galvin over for the festival and said the creation of a Dublin-based Russian Celtic Society might not be too far off.


Galvin performed traditional compositions on the tin whistle, Irish flute and uilleann pipes Saturday at the Central House of Artists following inspired sets by bands including Slua Si and lead singer Yury Andreichuk's uncanny Dublin lilt.


Galvin said local musicians had been in awe of him but that at a "session" Monday evening he got a chance to work with them personally. He said his final day, Tuesday, was to involve recording music with a Russian composer and giving performances at the Irish Embassy and Rosie O'Grady's Pub.


Old Etonians in the New Russia


Though they left their top hats, ties and tails in storage, a group of Old Etonians, graduates of the prestigious English boys' school, dusted off their memories at an informal reunion last Thursday. And one of the Etonians was a native Muscovite.


Class of 1965 graduate Alan Babington-Smith was the driving force behind the meeting at Babochka restaurant. Currently working with a Dutch-government agricultural project in Kolomna, Babington-Smith said the provincial isolation was one reason for calling together the alumni, who ranged in age from 25 to 55.


One of the younger Old Boys on hand included Russian Herman Resinov, who spent a year at Eton in 1991-92 through a scholarship exchange program with Moscow's School No. 1555.


Resinov, who graduated from Moscow State University last week, said his first month in England was a culture shock but that he quickly came to love the school. He said it was when the Queen Mother dropped in for a commemorative service that he realized he was going to a "very special school." Among Eton's current students are princes William and Harry.


Resinov said Eton was a life-changing experience.


"My parents started calling me a snob," he joked. "Probably because my tastes in clothing and all that stuff changed, though not because of food, because I still like Russian food. But also my self-esteem grew and I became more confident."


Dick Haddon, who has been teaching Russian language and literature at the school for the past 37 years, was a special guest at the dinner. Celebrating his 60th birthday, Haddon said it's hardly surprising to see so many Etonians living in the new Russia.


"Moscow seems to get hold of people," he said. "It's interesting for me, after having introduced them to Russia."


Americans Front and Center


The unveiling of a sculpture of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, in the courtyard of the Russian State Library of Foreign Literature was a particular achievement for Wendin Smith.


Not only was the sculpture a present to mark the fifth anniversary of the library's American Center, which she directs. But she herself is also Lincoln's great-great-great-great niece.


Sculptor John McClarey, who lives in Decatur, Illinois, not far from Lincoln's birthplace, flew to Moscow for the unveiling. Posing next to his creation, he said that given Lincoln's reputation for tolerance and his background as a self-educated man, his statue was an especially appropriate monument for a library. "Lincoln once said his best friend is the one who would lend him a book to read."


Smith says that the American Center, a joint venture between the library and the U.S. Information Service, is a lively place to work.


Yekaterina Genyeva, director of the library which is celebrating its 75th anniversary, said she was pleased to add the Lincoln bust to three others busts of famous people in the library courtyard. She said the collection, which also includes Niccolo Machiavelli and Charles Dickens, began when the city of D?sseldorf presented Mayor Yury Luzhkov with a bust of 19th-century lyric poet Heinrich Heine.


"I never intended to have more than one," confessed Genyeva. "But with Heinrich Heine, it's not a big bust, so I started calling him 'Tiny Heiny,' and I thought he was so lonely. In fact, some of our readers thought that because his was the only monument, he might be buried there, and they started bringing him flowers.


Sweden's Silvery Weekend


Celebrating their national day on Saturday, Swedish expatriates gathered in their embassy's back garden where they were treated to a program that included a performance by Oleg Lunstr?m and his jazz band.


Born to expatriate Swedish parents, Lunstr?m grew up in the Soviet Union, and began playing jazz in Tatarstan -- where it was labelled Tatar folk music because of Stalin's abhorrence of jazz. Current Culture Minister Natalya Dementyeva presented Lunstr?m with the state prize for orchestra leader Saturday in recognition for his contribution to Russian music.


One Swede making a return to Moscow was Sverker Astr?m, who on Monday opened an exhibit of his private collection of silver works, created by Swedish masters in St. Petersburg from the 17th to the 19th centuries.


Though Astr?m served with the Swedish diplomatic mission in Moscow during World War II, he said it was not until his posting as ambassador to the United Nations in New York in the 1950s that he was struck with silver fever.


"I would go for walks in Central Park and stop in at the Metropolitan Museum ," said Astr?m, 82, "It was there that I became aware of the link between Sweden and Russian silver, and that my interest in collecting began."


Among the platters and candelabras in the collection was a giant soup tureen with an ornate lid including a Roman-style battle helmet. Astr?m explained that it had been commissioned in 1792 to mark, "the eternal peace between Sweden and Russia." The tureen lasted longer than the truce, however, with war breaking out in 1808.


Iglesias Plugged


The Moscow Times has already chronicled Julio Iglesias' visit to Moscow. At a press conference with Spanish Ambassador Jos? de Iturriaga Monday, he was plugging a trade exhibit for the Spanish region of Valencia.


But as a service to any of his fans who could not make it to his Kremlin Palace show Monday evening, Paparazzi can report that Iglesias was in his finest, romantic form. He crooned old favorites like "Sweet Water, Salty Water" and selections from his latest album, "Tango."


"The Tango is the most erotic dance," he warned. "You can get pregnant doing it -- even if you use a pillow."


In tribute to the region where he began his professional career 30 years ago and which now employs him, Iglesias closed his concert with "Valencia." He also made one last appeal to his Russian audience.


"It's sunny and warm 12 months a year in Valencia," he said. "Not like for two weeks in Moscow."