If you didn’t make it to the White Fort concert on October 16, you missed out on a real treat. To recap: it was Jimi Hendrix reincarnated on violin, and Led Zeppelin’s secret Siberian twin on guitar.
Above: White Fort in Cone Chapel
The virtuosi, Yruiy Matveyev and Artyom Yakushenko, together make up the band White Fort, and their music is a unique blend of “rock, jazz, & folk, propelled by a Russian ethnic pulse and rocket fuel,” as described on their website. What they played, however, was so much more than that. From a personal standpoint, I have never heard such a whole sound come from only two instruments, and two string instruments at that. The fact that they have no vocals or percussion and are able to create symphonic and complex compositions is even more remarkable: the violin plays the part of carrying the melody, while the guitar keeps the beat as well as harmonizes. These two are juggling quite a number of hats as they play, and yet get so lost in the music that they seems almost hypnotized by their own sound. Artyom can commonly be found head banging as he rips through some great notes on his crimson violin, while Yuriy almost mouths the way his guitar sounds, as if he’s able to sing along with the chords.
None of this is particularly surprising when you find out that they won 1st Place in the Instrumental category at the 2011 International Songwriting Competition, as well as countless other awards.Yuriy and Artyom have both been playing music since they were young enough to pluck the strings of their instruments. They met each other in college and found that they complemented each other while procrastinating their studies and playing music together instead. They were bashed by the Novosibirsk Fine Arts Academy for playing rock and jazz when they were classically trained. However, the two have become revered for their exquisite ballet score and three studio CDs. White Fort disbanded for a deserved sabbatical in 2008 and only just started playing again in April 2012. This made their visit to Willamette University even more special, as we are one of the first to see the reconvened White Fort. We were privileged to host such an amazing group due to a true Willamette connection. Professor Williamson of Chemistry’s wife, Jeanine, is their manager for all countries other than Russia. To them both, a big thank you for bringing such talent to our campus.
Ultimately, listening to music live doesn’t compare to it recorded, but if you want a taste of what their music is like, you can check them out at www.whitefort.net and if you like what you hear, you can order their music by emailing CoolHatRecords@gmail.com.