Medieval English music flowed down the wide stairs of the British Ambassador’s residence on a rare warm and sunny summer evening in July. The ‘Chevening Summer fest’ on July 13th was underway. Guests arrived and were serenaded by the stunning Lyubov Zolotova and the Minne Singers performing some really quite hypnotising music.
Lyubov’s searching, clear voice, backed by seemingly simple but actually highly complex lute and flute playing by Nadezhda Petrushina, hand drum, mini tambourine with spoon playing by Makar Khavrun, and keyboard by Franziska Khavrun created an extraordinary atmosphere, especially when placed in the context of the embassy’s baroque interior design and against the backdrop of the Kremlin, clearly visible across the Moskva river.
Over 100 Russian guests arrived. They all effused an aura of being highly civilised, and many now occupy important positions here in Russia. These are the Russian alumni of the UK’s ‘Chevening’ Scholarship scheme. Lyubov, herself a previous Chevening scholar, spoke of the scholarship as being one of the most, if not THE most amazing time of her life. Other guests echoed her words. In a few words, they expressed that Chevening was an opportunity to be completely immersed into a foreign culture and way of life, and receive a post-graduate education at a top UK university; all expenses paid thanks to the UK government.
Chevening has been operating in Russia since the late 1980s and, judging by the event on July 13th, is significant on many different levels.
The festival was the first of its kind organised by the newly formed Russian Chevening Alumni Association. To much applause, deputy Ambassador Martin Harris, OBE, announced that the number of Chevening scholarships available to Russia will be increased this year to 30.
Martin also presented certificates to ‘Laureates of the Chevening Alumnus of the Year 2107 Awards’ such as to Sergey Golubok in recognition of his outstanding achievement in defending Human Rights. Olga Dianchenko, the Association’s new President, who has injected new life and energy into the Association, spoke of forthcoming events such as a football match between Chevening Alumni and the British embassy. She also outlined the talks and conferences that her association is organising. Clearly, we will be hearing more about this organisation in the months and years to come.The Ceilidh Scottish dancers provided a Scottish dancing class which was interesting to watch as a number of students seemed to already know their steps pretty well, having studied in Scotland.
In all, the evening was a celebration, a warm event and lots of fun.
Chevening Scholarships allow successful applicants to choose any course to study at any UK higher education institution for a one year post graduate course. Further information about the Chevening Scholarship programme can be found out here: