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City news, 20.01.2003 17:58

SPb festival

SPb festival At first sight, it seemed like a super high-powered gathering of St. Petersburg luminaries. Governor Yakovlev was at the opening gala; Mariinsky Theater Valery Gergiev had taken over the airwaves; popular band La Minor was playing in the streets; and the public saunas played host to people such as Viktor Mazin, the director of the city's Freud Museum. Yet this was Graz, and the reason that brought these people together - and will bring over 100 more - was the European Culture Capital. St. Petersburg also vied for the title, first awarded to Athens in 1985, for the year of its 300th anniversary, but missed out to its Austrian rival. Generous in victory, however, Graz decided to honor St. Petersburg and its anniversary with a large-scale program celebrating its art and culture. While some of Graz' St. Petersburg program comprises sure-fire winners - such as Gergiev and the Mariinsky, who are slated to perform for two weeks in February, playing Russian music from three centuries - the most avant-garde and experimental section, called " - current art from petersburg" represents one of the most comprehensive review of St. Petersburg's contemporary culture ever seen outside the city. Among the artists whose work Turkina is curating are photographer Dmitry Shubin, who is exhibiting a series called "Chosen Places," about recent contract killings in St. Petersburg, and necrorealist Yevgeny Yufit. La Minor, whose concert in Graz was the opening performance of a mini-tour of Europe, was also very warmly welcomed. The urban-folk band, which mainly plays Soviet-era gangster songs - although it has started writing its own material - also played at the concert that officially opened this year's European Culture Capital.

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