Marcus C. Levitt

Notes on an Expedition

to the Semeiskie of Transbaikal

Background on the Expedition

In June-July, 2000, a joint Russian-American expedition took place which collected folk songs and recorded religious rituals of the Semeiskie Old Believers of Transbaikal (Zabaikal’e).  It was organized by Vladimir Kliauz of the Institut mirovoi literatury and the Institut prirodnogo i dukhovnogo naslediiia (Moscow), and Prof. Marcus C. Levitt of the University of Southern Calfornia (Los Angeles), with the help of Prof. Richard McIlvery of USC’s Thornton School of Music, who produced state-of-the-art digital recordings. An Undergraduate Research Grant from USC, with additional special support from the Albert and Elaine Borchard Foundation, funded the expedition, which included three USC undergraduate team members: Cinema Production major Natalie Ross; Music Industry major Amy Deng; and Art History and Business major Camille Perkins; the students helped with the recording and pursued projects of their own.  The team also included psychologist Mariia Schapova,who served as an interpreter, and Liubov’ Illiushenkova, a folklorist from the Oblastnoi tsentr narodnogo tvorchestva in Chita.