A Russian Musical Soiree 

I recently met Sergey Eletskikh at the opening of Colibri, the new Russian shop in Alsancak, and we have been keeping in touch, so I was delighted when he offered an invitation to go and listen to music from himself and his brother at the Green Valley Restaurant in Alsancak.   The restaurant has been run by Salih Cihanyardi for the past 12 years.

I duly turned up at the venue at about 5.30pm on a Sunday afternoon and was warmly greeted by Sergey, he said they had intended to start at about 5pm but hey-ho this is Cyprus!  I met Sergey’s brother, Alexander, who was on holiday here, he lives just outside of Moscow.  He was due to return to Moscow towards the end of August but hopes to be able to come back again in October.

It was not too long before the guitars were unpacked and the music began.  To start off there were songs by Jenia Dremov who came to North Cyprus from Belarus 4 years ago.  He is studying Public Relations at GAU and also works for a construction company.  He is a single man and I asked if he had a girlfriend,  he said he did and in fact this is Sergey’s daughter.   

Jenia sang quite a few Russian songs and this was then followed by Sergey and his brother Alexander.  The songs were all in the Russian language so of course  I did not understand the words but could certainly feel the meaning and they were all very enjoyable, there were traditional Russian folk songs, love songs, some very old (150 years) and some more recently written.   I think for the benefit of myself and my partner, being the only Brits there, Sergey and Alexander sang “Can’t Live (if living is without you)” a Harry Nilsson hit from the 1970’s, and this was very much appreciated.

There was not a huge audience as it seems, like the British, the Russian residents get away from the heat of Cyprus as well, but all who attended really enjoyed the performance.  We met Alexei who told us that he has 5 horses here in North Cyprus and runs a riding stable in Alsancak.  

We were made to feel so very welcome and after the singing we were invited to join the group for tea and enjoyed some lovely apple pastries with cream.   One batch of the pastries had been made by Sergey’s wife Inna and she is certainly a good pastry cook and when I commented on this Sergey said she is very talented and called her over to show me the hand-knitted dress she was wearing which she had made herself.  I had been admiring it from when we arrived and had no idea it had been all her own work.

Sergey told me a little about himself, he is married to Inna and came to North Cyprus 3 years ago, their daughter is also here with them and they have a son in London who has been there for  many years, he studied at Cambridge, Birmingham and Greenwich and he is now a British citizen and has a small estate agency business.  Sergey also told me about his father, Gavziil, who was in the Russian Air Force and flew as a Navigator and did Photography Reconnaissance during WW11.   In 1944 he received the gold cross which is the highest award in Russia and this was for completing  212 missions, 70 of which were over Stalingrad in 1942.  Sergey said that 100 missions was usually classed as normal so the amount of missions his father flew was remarkable especially as on one occasion the aircraft was hit but his father survived to continue his marathon number of flights.

After tea we wandered out onto the terrace where Alexander, Alexei and Hasan (a Turkish man married to a Russian lady) were starting to strum away and come up with all types of music.  Hasan had studied music and was very skilled at playing and singing Spanish music.  We also had renditions of Beatles songs and many old hit parade music.   It was all very enjoyable and we look forward to perhaps being invited to another of these lovely gatherings.

By Margaret Sheard