Alumna Brings Russian Band to HMC Campus

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Harvey Mudd College students will be treated Oct. 24 to a performance by an award-winning Russian band managed by Jeanine Renne ’88.

White Fort, a two-man band comprised of violinist Artyom Yakushenko and guitarist Yuriy Matveyev, describes its music as a “unique hybrid of rock, jazz and folk propelled by a Russian ethnic pulse and rocket fuel.”

The band has released 12 albums (three in the United States) and took first place in the Instrumental category of the 2011 International Songwriting Competition. HMC will be one of 30 stops in a tour to promote the band’s forthcoming album, “6/8.”

“These guys have something unbelievably magical. I can only imagine this is what it felt like to watch Bach or Mozart play live,” said Renne. “I fondly remember concerts on the lawn in front of Platt, and I wanted to bring the boys back to share that experience with current Mudders.”

Renne met band member Yakushenko during a 1986 student trip to the former Soviet Union led by former political science Professor Emeritus Nat Davis. Renne and Yakushenko exchanged addresses and a few letters before losing touch. Twenty-five years later, Renne reconnected with him through Facebook.

She discovered that Yakushenko and his college friend Matveyev had become international performers, including releasing albums in the United States under the name, “Two Siberians.” The two men had parted ways, however, and had no plans to regroup until Renne convinced them to give their art another try. In 2011, she became White Fort’s manager and launched Cool Hat Records, LLC, to produce and promote the duo’s music.

The band will perform 10 p.m. Oct. 24 at HMC as part of the College’s Wednesday Nighter program for students.