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7th International Jew’s Harp Congress, Yakutsk 2011
International Jew’s Harp Society Bulletin 2 – Compiled by Michael Wright

First, an apology. In Bulletin 1 we said that the virtuoso competition was for men over 25. We have since had information that indicates that this was a mis-translation. The Virtuoso Competition is, in fact, open to male and female players. The competition for women under 25 has been set up to encourage and support female players and the organizers have specifically asked us to advertise this competition amongst possible European and American female participants – for foreign players the age-limit does not apply! The organizers also would like to see as many Jew’s harp makers as possible.

Other issues from the members and the Programme Committee have been raised in a letter sent by the Committee to the Vice President of the Republic Sakha, who is the head of the Yakutian Organisation Committee. These include:

The competitions are foreseen as for solo players. We have pointed out that in many cultures – like Austria, Hungary, Italy, UK and the USA – it is the case that Jews harps are played in groups, sometimes with several players and sometimes with other musical instruments or singers. We have therefore asked if there are likely to be:

• Competitions open to larger groups of Jews harp players or ensembles that include Jews harp playing with other instruments or voices?
• The possibility for such groups to present their art to the Yakutian audience with the aim of transmitting a true picture of the international character of all Jew’s harp cultures.

In both cases we have pointed out that the accompanying musicians/singers also require accommodation and food provided.

Presentation of Academic Papers
We have indicated that a number of our members are keen to present academic papers at the Congress and we have asked if this could be incorporated into the official program.

Informal Music Events
We also pointed out that many of our members would like to perform outside of the formal concerts. We see these spontaneous musical meetings between Jew’s harp players from diverse and distant regions as an important part of IJHFs and they are seen by many as true highlights. We have asked if there will be any events and possibilities set up for these informal performances.

Competition Fee
The Programme Committee recognises that the long distance travel costs will be quite high for many participants coming from Europe and the Americas and pointed out that participants in previous IJHFs never had to pay for presenting their art. On the contrary, some professional players would get an honorary for their performance. Under the circumstances players are willing to refrain in the case of the 7th IJHF, but we have asked if the Organisation Committee of the 7th IJHF would allow free entry to the competitions for delegates who will be travelling long distances.

Replacements in the list of 31
There are instances where people in the original list of 31 will not be able to attend and the International Jews Harp Society would like to specify replacement names. These would, for example, be future board members of the International Jews Harp Society. We have, therefore, asked if it could be confirmed that this will be possible.

Jews Harp Makers
In some cases we know that some Jews Harp makers are not able to attend and would like to send a representative, so we have requested that this be allowed.

Finally, we asked the co-member of the Organisation Committee – Mr I.A.Prostit, General Director of “Aviakompaniya Yakutia”, head of the
National Airline, to look at the possibility of organising a special group discount-flight for the participants from Europe and the Americas, on 21st June, Moscow-Yakutsk, and on 26th June, Yakutsk-Moscow.

PLEASE NOTE. None of the above has been approved or agreed as yet by the Yakutian Organization Committee. You should also be aware
that this Committee is primarily made up of Government and Regional politicians or businessmen. There is only one member of the Committee from the Regional Khomus Society – Ivan Alexeev, plus the president of the IJHS – Franz Kumpl. We are, therefore, in the minority and totally reliant on the good wishes of this Committee. Hopefully in Bulletin 3 we will have positive responses on most if not all of the points raised.

Formalities for participants
In response to the request from the Organisation Committee to define approximately 100 European and 20 American participants of the 7th IJHF, we have collated the first list of these participants.

Those included on the list, and given that they will be approved by the Yakutian Organisation Committee, should anticipate a direct
communication with all the necessary documents for obtaining a Russian visa.

Once participants have received their invitations, this should trigger their requirement to obtain a visa for Russia. Please note that the invitation and therefore the visa will be for the period of the event only. Anyone wishing to stay for a longer period in Russia should get the visa through a local Travel Agent or try to convince the inviting Yakutian Organisation Committee. The YOC might support you when you stay in Yakutia and book some touristic travels there. But they may be hesitant if you want to travel to other Russian cities, particularly as registration issues and responsibilities by the inviting organisation becomes stricter.

The visa procedure will be as follows:

a) If approved by the YOC, you will receive a personal invitation by the Government of the Republic Sakha (Yakutia), sent to your email-
b) You will have to provide the person who has transmitted the Invitation with all your contact details as requested (e.g. copy of passport with name, passport number, date and place of issue, expiry date, etc. ATTENTION: the passport has to be valid for minimum 6 months after your stay in Yakutia!), so that they can produce the official invitation which will be sent to your local Russian Consulate (ATTENTION: in case
in your country there are several Russian Consulates, define to which it should be sent!). The inviting organisation will inform you when
this invitation will be available at the Consulate. Only afterwards does it make sense to go to the Consulate and apply for the visa.
c) For this application you need to fill in the official Visa Application form (available at the website of the Russian Consulate), a medical
insurance for the given period and a passport photo.

PLEASE NOTE: the obtaining of the correct visa is the responsibility of the individual participant.

As indicated in Bulletin 1, our hosts will either supply the accommodation for participants or provide information on what is available. We will
not know who is in what category until we have a response to the letter, though whether performers will be required to pay may depend on if they are participating in the competitions or not.

We advise that anyone travelling as audience (i.e. non-performer) should discuss options with a local travel agent.

Dietary issues
We suggest that any invitees should indicate any dietary issues they might have in their response to the invitation.

Information on event tickets to follow.

Gifts to take with you to Yakutia:
You should consider taking gifts for the people you meet with you, e.g. something linked to your national Jew’s harp culture (harps, publications, CDs, photos, etc) and/or to your local/national culture (folklore items, special alcoholics and preserved food, etc)

Contacts – National and Regional contacts:
Americas – Deirdre Morgan deirdreannemorgan[at]gmail.com
Austria – Franz Kumpl franz.kumpl[at]aon.at
Germany – Gerd Conradt mandala.vision[at]gmx.de
France – Tran Quang Hai tranquanghai[at]gmail.com
Hungary/Slovakia – Aron Szilagyi aural[at]t-online.hu
Italy – Luca Recupero luca_recupero[at]yahoo.it
Scandinavia– Svein Westad s-westad[at]online.no
Switzerland – Philippe Dallais dallais[at]vmz.uzh.ch
Netherlands – Daniel Hentschel mail[at]danibal.nl
UK – Michael Wright jewsharper[at]btinternet.com

Recommended do’s and don’ts in Russia and Yakutia
Advice from Franz

• Although Yakutia has the coldest spot on earth (Oymyakon, with •67.7 °C (•90 °F), it becomes hot in summer as the permafrost thaws and melts. Be prepared for a June to be around 30 °C Celsius.
• Usually June is still fine in regard of the mosquitoes, but don’t take the risk – the Yakutian mosquitoes are real killers!
• Take excellent repellents with you and wide cloth, or obtain the Yakutian weapon, which is a horse tail on a stick.

• Traditional Yakutian food is very special and extremely healthy.
• Try to get their speciality which is “Stroganina”, a kind of Yakutian Sashimi from white river fish, which is caught in winter, freezes immediately in this extreme cold and is stored in the permafrost-cellars (or in the freezer compartment in the city).
• The tundra- and taiga-berries are excellent, especially when eaten with sour cream from the overly fat Yakutian milk.
• Yakutians love roasted meat – “shashlik”, usually beef.
• A main dish is small thick pancakes which taste as everywhere in the world.
• They have special blood-sausages in Yakutia, which taste OK but just have the unusual colour white.
• You might not have the chance to try it, but if so you are lucky! It is the Yakutian delicacy, which is sliced frozen raw liver from local foal (half year old horse which ate only grass and herbs in untouched taiga).

• You get all kinds of beer and beverages. The local drinks are Wodka (Yakutians are proud of their local Wodka because it is distilled with
excellent local water) and Kumys, which is fermented Mare’s milk (the mothers of the foals, whose raw liver you might be just trying). It
tastes like cider, but be careful of heartburn (pyrosis)! I never knew what pyrosis was, but in Yakutsk I learned this lesson. Therefore take
medicaments with you against pyrosis.

Dear reader, feel free to raise issues of interest for you regarding do’s and don’ts. Since I spent a big part of the past 25 years in Russia, I am happy to share my knowledge, Franz.

We trust you appreciate that the IJHS Programme Committee is doing everything it can within the limited possibilities available to us.


For implementation of main events
VII International Congress-Festival

“Khomus (trump) in the cultural dimensions of the world”
(further VII. IJHF)
23-26 June 2011Yakutsk

22.06. Wednesday
Day of arrival and accommodation
15:00 Opening of exhibition “Jew’s Harps of the Peoples of the World”
16:00 Departure for Namskiy, Khangalasskiy Ulus

23.06. Thursday
1st day of VII. IJHF
09:00-09:45 Festive opening of VII. IJHF with participation of President and Government members of Republic of Sakha-Yakutia
10:00-12:45 Plenum session of Congress
14:00-17:45 Congress: working groups. Master classes of Jew’s Harp-players and pedagogues
16:00-17:45 Competition of International Jew’s Harp Smiths
Auction of jew’s harps from renown masters
19:00 Grande Concert “Resounds Khomus of Oeloenkho”.
Competition of International Jew’s Harp Virtuosos

24.06. Friday 2nd day of VII. IJHF
09:00-12:45 Continuation of Congress-workshops
14:00-17:45 Final meeting of the Congress with resume
19:00 Festive closure of VII. IJHF
Honoring the winners in competitions
Gala-concert “Khomus gathers friends”

25.06. Saturday
3rd finalizing day of VII. IJHF, in Yakutsk
09:00-17:45 Participation in the national solstice festival “Ysyekh”
12:00-13:15 Opening Ceremony with participation of delegates from VII. IJHF
14:00-16:00 Competition “Khomus Kuo” (young female players)
Departure of participants for Vilyuisk

26.06. Sunday
4th day, Vilyuiskiy Ulus
09:00-11:15 Opening of Ulus “House of Masters”. Opening of studio Kylaan Uus. Opening of the exhibition “Fates, linked by Komus”
11:30 Ysyekh-festival of the Khomus (trump) of the peoples of the world
15:00 Gala-concert of the Jew’s Harp Players of the world.
18:00 departure for Yakutsk
Departure of the participants

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