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Moscow Easter Festival 2011
24 April 2011 - 09 May 2011

SCHEDULE 24 April 2011 - 09 May 2011

The Moscow Easter Festival was inaugurated by the artistic and general director of the Mariinsky Theatre (former Kirov Ballet Theahre) Valery Gergiev and the mayor of Moscow Yury Luzkov. It has quickly developed into one of the largest and most authoritative musical forums in Russia and Europe.
The First Festival was held at Easter 2002 with support of the Moscow government and blessing of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexei II. It was a resounding success and the decision was quickly taken to make the Festival an annual event, with the Russian Ministry of Culture as co-promoter.
The musical programme and the international dimension of the Festival have grown steadily richer year by year.

Artistic Director Valery Gergiev

The Moscow Easter Festival is ten years old this year and will run from 24 April to 9 May in five capital cities (including ones in the CIS) and forty towns in Russia. The festival includes symphony, choral, chamber music and bell ringing programmes.

One important element of the Easter Festival is its charitable concerts. On 4 May in Moscow in memory of the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan there will be a performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem featuring the Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra, Chorus and soloists including Olga Borodina Ildar Abdrazakov, Viktoria Yastrebova and Sergei Semishkur. As Valery Gergiev pointed out, “the disaster in Japan must serve as a reminder to mankind that we must think of the future of the planet, the need to limit the use of natural resources and take responsibility.” Another disaster – that of Chernobyl twenty-five years ago – will be commemorated with a recital by Mikhail Petrenko on 26 April at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall featuring popular Russian romances.

One particular trend of the festival, the maestro said, is the “promotion of young musicians to the forefront.” Valery Gergiev drew the journalists’ attention to the fact that the Mariinsky Theatre aims to showcase young and promising talent, most of whom are “either representatives of the Russian school of music or its heirs.” In accordance with this, the maestro referred to the planned recitals of pianists who were prize-winners at the XVI International Frédéric Chopin Competition.

During the festival the Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra under Valery Gergiev will be performing in eleven Russian towns as well as in CIS nations and the Baltic States. “The Mariinsky Theatre’s musicians often perform ‘on the hoof’, covering the vast Russian territory. But that is the destiny of a theatre that aims to enlighten.” Internationally acclaimed musicians will be taking part in the festival. “When Yevgeny Nikitin, Yekaterina Semenchuk or Mikhail Petrenko come to any Russian town it immediately becomes an event in cultural terms,” Gergiev said, “These are immensely talented people and I hope Russia knows them and is proud of them.”

Valery Gergiev also spoke of the development of the Mariinsky recording label. In the two years since it was founded the label has already released six opera recordings and has begun a large-scale project to record all of Dmitry Shostakovich’s symphonies. Having got off to a heady start, the Mariinsky label continues to produce recordings of supreme musical and technical quality. As the maestro said, “The genie has come out of the bottle.”
History of the Festival
The Moscow Easter Festival, which began in 2002, has, in a few years, won the reputation of being one of the largest and most respected musical forums of Russia and Europe.  The Festival has the backing of Yury Luzhkov, the Mayor of Moscow, and Valery Gergiev, the artistic and general director of the Mariinsky Theatre.  The wide response to the first Festival, held with the support of the Moscow Municipal Government and with the blessing of Aleksey II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, brought about the decision to hold the event annually.  In 2003, with the support of V.V. Putin, President of the Russian Federation, the Festival was given the title All-Russian. 

This, the largest Russian festival, follows the tradition of the West European musical forums held at Eastertide - such events take place annually in Salzburg, Vienna, Berlin, Lucerne, London and many other cities, and include varied programmes, both spiritual and temporal, which attract a great number of music lovers.  In forming the repertoire of the Moscow Easter Festival, its artistic director Valery Gergiev, in his own words, thought of the forum as an event of all-national importance, like the similar festival in Salzburg founded by Herbert von Karajan.  At the same time, one of the main missions of the Moscow Easter Festival became the continuation of the traditions of Orthodox Easter and the resurrection of now-unknown forms of Russian musical culture.

In the opinion of the international and central Russian press, the Moscow Easter Festival forms the culmination of the capitals musical season every year, attracting world-class artistes, presenting interesting well-filled programmes, and paying great attention to charitable projects.

The Festival now takes place annually, with the support of Yu.M. Luzhkov, Mayor of Moscow, D.A. Medvedev, President of the Russian Federation, and the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, and with the blessing of His Holiness Cyril, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.  The Festival programme, which included only 20 concerts in its first year, has now reached an impressive size - up to 120 events over two to three weeks in the Spring.

 From the first days of its existence, the social priorities of the Moscow Easter festival have been charity and education, which are embodied in all the four major classes of the festival: symphonic, chamber and choral programmes, and a bell-ringing week. 

The symphonic programme, which began with a performance by the Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra in five regions, by the beginning of the Ninth Festival is taking place in 26 cities: Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhni Novgorod, Kazan, Vladikavkaz, Krasnodar, Ekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Chelyabinsk, Rostov-on-Don, Ulyanovsk, Izhevsk, Khanty-Mansiysk, Tolyatti, Samara, Veliky Novgorod, Cherepovets, Yaroslavl, Kostroma, Perm, Petrozavodsk, Murmansk, Belomorsk, Kiev and Yerevan.  The orchestra has been to some of them three times!

Several thousand performers from throughout the world have taken part in the Moscow Easter Festival over the years of its existence, including both well-known stars and promising young artistes.  The Festival programme has been enhanced by the names of such supreme vocal artistes as Anna Netrebko, Olga Borodina, Vladimir Galuzin and Bryn Terfel.  Participants invited by maestro Gergiev include the violinists Vadim Repin, Viktoria Mullova, Nikolai Tsnaider, Leonidas Kavakos, the viola player Yury Bashmet, the cellists Misha Maisky and Marie-Elizabeth Hacker, the pianists Mikhail Pletnev, Lang Lang, Vladimir Feldman, Aleksandr Toradze, Yefim Bronfman and Kun-Woo Paik, the Belgian choir and baroque-instrument orchestra Collegium Vocale Gent under the direction of Philippe Herreweghe, the Cologne Chamber Choir and orchestra under the direction of Peter Neumann, prima ballerina of the Mariinsky Theatre Ulyana Lopatkina and many others. 

The choral programme began in 2002 in Moscow with concerts by seven choirs.  The following year, performances were given in six cities, and the number grows with each season.  Choirs have performed in Novosibirsk, Kiev, Krasnoyarsk, Archangel, Murmansk, Maikop, Izhevsk, Cherepovets, Kazan, Yakutsk, Zaraysk, Aleksandrov, Vladikavkaz, Kaluga, Krasnodar, Krasnoyarsk, Murom, Rostov Veliky, Serpukhov, Tver, Tula, Tolyatti, Ulyanovsk, St. Petersburg, Dmitrov, Ryazan, Kasimov, Kolomna, Kaluga, Vladimir, Suzdal, Yaroslavl, Yegoryevsk, Lyubertsy, Nizhny Novgorod and other cities.  In 2009, 18 choirs took part in 39 concert programmes.  Thanks to the cooperation of the Moscow Patriarchate, it became possible for the first time in history to hold concerts of spiritual choral music in active churches; last year, Easter singing took place in 26 churches and cathedrals.  This year, the number of choirs participating in the festival has risen to 21.  Choral programme events will cover 14 Moscow churches and nine concert sites in the capital.

From its first days, the Festival has aroused the interest of a very wide auditorium in the art of Easter bell-ringing.  Each year, the best of the Russian bell-ringers have been attracted to Moscow to take part in the “Easter Bells Week” programme.  Chimes of bells relayed from one church to another were heard in the historic centre of Moscow in 2002 for the first time since 1917.  This musical phenomenon, amazing in its effect, not only fills the souls of Christians with well-being and calm, but also inspires hope, strengthens faith and affirms the truth of spiritual resurrection. 

Performances by the musicians of the Young Singers Academy, headed by Larissa Gergieva, took place as part of the chamber programme for the first time in 2003.  They were held in seven Russian cities: Kostroma, Yaroslavl, Tyumen, Vologda, Omsk, Tomsk and Seversk.  Since then, the artistes of the Academy of Young Singers of the Mariinsky Theatre have performed all over the country, from Murmansk to Vladivostok, through Yaroslavl, Mirny and Blagoveshchensk.

The Festival’s charity concerts in urban hospitals, veterans’ homes and children’s music schools enable those who cannot come to concert halls to hear interesting programmes.

The Moscow Easter Festival which took place in the capital for the first time in 2002 was not allocated a serial number.  It became called the First only after the event: due to the tremendous response from the public, it was decided to hold it annually.  The concerts of the main symphonic programme of the Festival reflect the history of Russian culture in its interaction with European tradition: each year, the programmes are subordinated to a single thematic principle.

For example, the central event of the second Moscow Easter Festival was M.P. Mussorgsky’s opera “Boris Godunov” in the Cathedral Square of the Kremlin.  This performance was particularly memorable for the audience: On the day of the concert, the weather took a turn for the worse, and it poured with rain.  The stringed instruments were replaced by a piano, but the choir, soloists and other musicians of the Mariinsky Theatre led by Valery Gergiev, in spite of the weather, kept going to the end and performed the opera splendidly. 

The Third Moscow Easter Festival was the first to hold a broad programme of concerts in nine Russian cities.  A special place in the repertoire of the 2004 forum was devoted to the music of Sergey Prokofiev.  The Mariinsky Theatre orchestra presented all seven of his symphonies, which are rarely heard en bloc.  The Third Festival also included the mini-cycle “Days of Bach in Moscow”. 

The Fourth Moscow Easter Festival was devoted to the 60th anniversary of the great Victory in the Second World War.  The symphonic programme included “heroic” compositions by L. van Beethoven, Sergei Prokofyev, Johannes Brahms and Dmitry Shostakovich.  The other themed bloc was in the form of a cycle of three symphonies by S.V. Rachmaninov.  Two special projects also became part of the celebration of the 60th anniversary of Victory: the presentation by the Mariinsky Theatre of Sergey Prokofiev’s opera “War and Peace”, directed by Andrey Konchalovsky with the participation of Anna Netrebko; and a performance by the specially-created Combined Youth Orchestra of countries which took part in the Second World War, under the direction of Valery Gergiev. 

The Fifth Moscow Easter Festival marked the centenary of the birth of the 20th-century classical composer Dmitry Shostakovich.  The Moscow retrospective of the master’s compositions was the culmination of Valery Gergiev’s large-scale international project devoted to the centenary: he presented programmes of Shostakovich’s music in New York, London, Paris, Beijing, Tokyo, Rome, Los Angeles, St. Petersburg and other world musical capitals.  The opera “The Nose” and selected compositions from the composer’s symphonic legacy were performed by maestro Gergiev and the Mariinsky Theatre in Moscow on the stage of the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Musical Theatre when it reopened after reconstruction.  For the first time in many years, inhabitants of the distant regions were able to assess world-renowned Mariinsky Theatre opera productions: Giuseppe Verdi’s operas “Falstaff” and “Nabucco” were performed in Novosibirsk and Krasnoyarsk.  A special project “Kievan Rus” was prepared for the festival days in Kiev.  This included five productions: the operas “The Journey to Rhiems” by Gioachino Rossini and “Parsifal” by Richard Wagner, with the participation of the famous bass-baritone Bryn Terfel, S.V. Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto and Dmitry Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto. 

The Sixth Moscow Easter Festival was devoted to the 125th anniversary of the birth of Igor Stravinsky, one of the most “St. Petersburg style” composers, whose works vividly portray the spirit of the Northern capital.  The programme included both popular stage productions (a triad of Russian ballets: “The Firebird”, “Petrushka”, “The Rite of Spring” and the opera-oratorio “Oedipus Rex”, and rarely-performed opuses (“Symphony in C”, “The Wedding”, “Symphony in Three Movements” and the cantata “King of the Stars”).  The tradition of operatic gifts from the Mariinsky Theatre to the Russian capital was continued by a sparkling spectacle with the participation of soloists of the Young Singers Academy: “Love for Three Oranges” by Sergey Prokofiev - producer Alena Maratra.  Leading soloists of the Mariinsky Opera took part in presenting three fragments from the four-part work “Ring of the Nibelung” by Richard Wagner - the biggest project in the recent history of the Theatre. 

The Seventh Moscow Easter Festival reflected the Mariinsky Theatre’s own anniversaries: 225 years from its foundation, and 20 years with maestro Valery Gergiev in control.  In its jubilee season, the Mariinsky Theatre presented to the public a panorama of the best historical spectacles and contemporary premieres, including the splendid musical displays “Khovanshchina” by M.P. Mussorgsky and “The Maid of Pskov” by N.A. Rimsky-Korsakov in their historic sets.  The Festival programme gave a special place to the music of Rimsky-Korsakov (on the centenary of his death): it included the “The Bright Holiday” overture, “Spanish Capriccio”, and overtures and fragments from the operas “The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevronia”, “May Night”, “The Tsar’s Bride”, “Mlada” and “The Tale of Tsar Saltan”.  An international element was added to the Festival programme by the names of the Chinese virtuoso pianist Lang Lang, the talented German cellist Marie-Elizabeth Hacker, the Belgium ensemble Collegium Vocale Gent and the “maestro of baroque” Philippe Herreweghe.  Audiences for the symphonic programme of the Seventh Moscow Easter Festival totalled over 35,000 in Moscow and the Russian regions. 

The programme of the Eighth Festival included performances connected in various ways to works by N.V. Gogol, whose 200th birth anniversary was celebrated in 2009.  In particular, there was a performance of Vlacheslav Kruglik’s comic opera “The Carriage”, based on the novel of the same name by N.V. Gogol.  The wide regional coverage of the Festival included 28 Russian cities: the Symphony Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre and maestro Gergiev set out on a wide-ranging tour from Perm to Murmansk in a chartered train. They did not only perform in large cities, but also, in particular, in Belomorsk, a city with a population of 12'000. Belomorsk embraced the Easter Festival warmly, meeting it with a choir of incredibly touching sincerity, and in kokoshniks. They also presented them with more flowers than the ensemble is used to receiving in the more Southern, wealthier megalopolises.  

The orchestra performed in the Russian North and the Kola Arctic for the first time.  The warm reception and the high audience awareness of the public left Valery Gergiev with good impressions of this region.  The artistic director of the forum promised the Northerners that the Easter Festival would return.  Last year, the Festival was taken abroad for the first time, to Yerevan. 

The programme of the Ninth Moscow Easter Festival is devoted to the 65th anniversary of the Great Victory in the Second World War.  Therefore, its regional part includes tours of the Hero Cities and Cities of Military Glory.  The concert programmes devote much attention to the music of the composer Dmitry Shostakovich, who lived through the war.  “I’m the son of a front-line soldier myself, we don’t only know about the horrors of the war and the great joy of the Victory by hearsay.  We want to pay a musical tribute to the veterans.  It is worth giving concerts for them alone”, says Valery Gergiev.

Music fanatics will be interested in the Swedish Radio Choir concert, and lovers of baroque music in the arrival of a true star of authenticity in music, the Catalan Jordi Savall with his orchestra “Le Concert des Nations”.  The names of such soloists as Ferruccio Furlanetto, Denis Matsuyev, Nelson Freire, Mario Brunello, Yekateria Gubanova and Sergey Babayan will grace the programme, giving it the highest artistic prestige.  Mariinsky opera fans will undoubtedly meet its leading soloists.

SCHEDULE 24 April 2011 - 09 May 2011

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