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Meet Stary Olsa, Your New Favorite Medieval Cover Band

The Belarusian Medieval Music Band, Stary Olsa, pictured in Medieval garb holding various ancient instruments
Stary Olsa
The Belarusian Medieval Music Band Stary Olsa

This week in the roundup, a medieval band takes on modern pop songs, choruses find creative ways to perform during the pandemic, opera singers help those suffering from the effects of "Long Covid," and more!

Welcome to another compilation of some of the fun, interesting, and illuminating music stories that have come our ways over the last few weeks.

A few roundups ago, Cathy Fuller brought you a video of a trumpet playing in jello. This... is not that. But the one reminded me of the other, somehow. At the very least it is an incredible sound.

It's an example of one of the many ways people are creatively gathering to enjoy music these days.

Just imagine if the pool were full of Jello!

There's a new documentary coming out soon about another creative way people are making music these days: choral singing in cars. From community groups, to houses of worship, to professional organizations, thousands upon thousands of people around the United States gather to sing in choral groups every week. Or they did, before COVID-19 came along.

During the pandemic, that kind of communal music-making became dangerous. "The Drive to Sing" chronicles how one innovative group overcame the obstacle and kept the music going.

For more on this documentary, including its release date, visit The Drive to Sing website.

With singing in mind, check out this story from the BBC. Opera singers have to sing really loud and for a really long time as part of their craft, and therefore must hone their breathing technique to a razor's edge. Now, performers at the Welsh National Opera (WNO) are teaching those techniques to those suffering from "Long Covid" in hopes of alleviating some of their respiratory difficulties.

The WNO isn't the first to roll out a program like this. Back in January 2021, the English National Orchestra began a similar initiative:

And finally in this week's roundup, a fun bit of creative musical play. Stary Olsa is a "medieval music band from Belarus" (as they write on their Youtube channel). And most of their output is precisely that: music from medieval Belarus.

But what caught my attention this week are their enigmatic (and good!) medieval instrument covers of popular songs.

Now, having been to a Renaissance Faire or two myself over the years, I wouldn't be surprised if this kind of thing is not terribly uncommon amongst medieval music enthusiasts. But with the costumes, the variety of instruments, the cool arrangements, and their overall spot-on stage presentation, I'd imagine that Stary Olsa pulls it off better than most.

Learn more about Stary Olsa in this 2015 article in Open Culture, and about the instruments they play over at their website.

And that, friends, is all for this week's roundup!

Chris Voss is the Weekday Afternoon Host and a Producer for CRB.