Calvin College Chimes

Regina Spektor draws crowd for Calvin concert

Photo by Megan Schroder.

Photo by Megan Schroder.

Photo by Megan Schroder.

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Since the beginning of the semester, Regina Spektor’s concert has been the topic of conversation on Calvin’s campus when it comes to on-campus music.

“I’ve been practicing for the singing,” said Calvin College President Michael Le Roy, after finding his seat for the much-anticipated show Monday night.

“She has a very interesting and really unique sound.  I like her a lot,” he continued.

Spektor’s concert was sold out and packed from the chairs on the floor to the bleachers in Calvin College’s Hoogenboom Center. This long-awaited concert was enthusiastically received.

“Don’t talk, don’t heckle, just take it all in,” said director of student activities Ken Heffner to preface Spektor’s show.

“As soon as I found that Regina was coming to Calvin, I was beyond ecstatic,” said senior Sam Wade.  “I have been looking forward to this night for a long, long time. She was so perfect. She was everything I hoped for and more.”

After the opening of “Only Son, ” Spektor walked onstage, smiled largely and broke out into her cappella song, “Ain’t No Cover” with not a second to spare.

“Thank you,” she said politely and with every ounce of loveliness that one could possibly be endowed with.  But don’t let her sweet, gentle stage performance fool anyone. When it comes to her music, it is fiercely haunting, whether it be about meatballs, war or appreciating life.

Regina Spektor is a unique kind of singer. Blending her pitch-perfect voice with whispers, guttural “umphs,” and other various nasally, throaty and unique noises, she draws from her Russian backbone and “is very connected to the language and culture,” according to New York Entertainment.

“When she started singing in Russian, I was mesmerized,” said Wade after hearing Spektor sing a cover of her favorite Russian singer.

“To me, the voice is an instrument, just like any other instrument,” said Spektor, according to NPR.

Moscow-born to a family full of musical aptitude — her father Ilya, an amateur violinist, and her mother, Bella, a music professor — she started learning how to play piano when she was seven years old. She played classical music on a Petrof upright piano that was handed down to her from her great-grandfather.

In 1989, when she was nine years old, she emigrated with family to Bronx New York and eventually began taking lessons from a Peruvian pianist. She continued to learn on an out-of-tune piano in the basement of a synagogue near home, according to The Independent.

She studied diligently and listened to a lot of what influenced her growing up.

“One was the most main kinds of music that we listened to is classical music,” she stated In an interview on NPR. “We also listened a lot to the Russian bards like Okudzhava and Vysotsky and a lot of singer-songwriters that were, you know, they were sort of usually just a person with a guitar writing very beautiful poetry and singing it by themselves with no orchestration, really.”

According to Catlin A. Johnson of CBSnews, she never sought to write herself.  “When you’re playing such brilliant music every day, then the last thing you ever want to do is try to write something of your own that’s crude and not as good,” she said.

“I never know where it comes from. It’s as if the words are there in the air around me and I happen to be in the right place at the right time. I feel joy, even euphoria, but also fear. I think: ‘What if it doesn’t happen next time?’” stated Spektor, according to The Independent.

But that doesn’t stop her music from being evocative, masterfully-created and successful.  Her most recent album “What We Saw from the Cheap Seats,” released Nov. 21, was given a 3.5 out of 5 stars in Rolling Stone and was debuted on over nine national album charts. The album was No. 3 in the United States.

Spektor  has released five other studio albums. “Soviet Kitsch,” “Begin to Hope,” Far” and “What We Saw From The Cheap Seats” were all released worldwide. “ Begin to Hope” was nominated for the Shortlist Music Prize and became a platinum album.

Her fan base is over huge and constantly growing.  Her Twitter has 88,473 followers and her Facebook page has 1,427,472 likes. Everyone not so patiently waits to hear what is coming next from this musician.

Her new music video “How” premieres Wednesday.

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