"Litwins" (Litsviny) - in the Middle Ages this word used to denote Belorussians and Eastern Lithuanians, inhabitants of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
"Litwins" - in the summer of 1990, a compere, saying "no name - no performance", used this word to announce the nameless band (a quartet at that time).
Transferring to the professional scene not only the traditional repertoire, but also the folk sound, was
the central idea of the group, conceived in 1986 by Ales' Los' - artist, musician, instrument maker and folklorist, and Uladzimier Berberaw - the band's future manager and leader.
The group was created after five years of innovative research and active contacts with the still living "bearers of tradition" - village performers and instrument makers. The band's founders went through a lot of museum work (Berberaw collected a great part of the biggest collection of folk instruments in Belarus; an exhibition he organised in 1992 can still be seen). They also searched for musicians who would be able to imitate folk methods of harmonizing and instrumentation, and singers with voice timbres corresponding to the sound of archaic instruments.
Wide use of almost forgotten musical instruments is the peculiarity of this group. They play original folk cimbalom of Maladeczna and Vilejka traditions which sounds very different from the modern academic type and is almost totally extinct. They also use an original three-row Petersburg harmonica, popular in the north of Belarus in 1900-1930. Their fiddle comes from the region of Smarhon' and brilliantly represents the fiddle-making village tradition of western Belarus with its strong and unique sound. One of the main instruments of THE LITWINS is the Belorussian duda - a kind of European bagpipe, saved from oblivion and reconstructed by the efforts of such masters and researchers as Uladzimier Puzynia, Ales' Los', Viktar Kulpin and others. The tone of these traditional instruments, inherited from the great instrument makers of the past, combined with the folk manner of singing and playing, constitutes the distinctive village-like sound of THE LITWINS.
Repertoire of THE LITWINS consists of folk songs, ritual music, dances, genuine folk pieces and folklorised borrowings, melodies as old as the Middle Age, as well as those dating from the 19th and 20th centuries.
THE LITWINS were participants of a number of international folk music festivals. They won the 1st prize at " Zalatyja kluczy" (" Golden Keys" ) festival, organised by the National TV. The group is a member of Cimbalom World Association (CWA). For three years now a Belorussian State Radio's weekly programme " Choosing a village" has started with " Balkowski's waltz" in THE LITWINS' interpretation.
An important part of the band's stage appearance are traditional clothes, some of them genuine, other prepared for THE LITWINS under the guidance of experts. Creating their image, THE LITWINS avoid theatricality. The performers resemble young village musicians, who arrived to the contemporary stage from the remote decades at the beginning of the 20th c.
Walentyna Kaściukowiec - vocal,
Wiera Jarszowa - vocal,
Olga Lińnik - vocal,
Olga Siahła - fiddle,
Maryna Kaleczyc - cimbalom,
Igor Pietrow - vocal, clarinet,
Józef Michałowski - accordion,
Roman Kraśko - drum,
Włodzimierz Bierbierow - duda, zhaleika, Petersburg harmonica, vocal and management