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Culture news
20th century classics
03.17.2006 13:51

schostakowitsch_dmitry The 15th International Festival of Arts “From the Avant-garde to the Present Day,” running through March 25 at the Shostakovich Philharmonic, the Hermitage Theater, and the Sheremetyev Palace, is subtitled “Shostakovich’s Galaxy” this year. It’s in memory of Dmitry Shostakovich, a distinguished Russian composer whose centenary is celebrated this year.

Founded by St. Petersburg composer Igor Rogalyov, the festival takes place annually and is supported by the City Cultural Committee, the Mariinsky Theater, the State Hermitage Museum, and the “Music and Contemporaneity” charity fund.

Among the participants of the ten-day festival are the Mariinsky Theater stars, the Shostakovich Philharmonic orchestra, the Emerson Trio as well as musicians from Germany, Denmark, Finland and Tajikistan. Besides the ten concerts, exhibitions of modern art are also being held around the city as part of the festival.

At the “Nadezhda 4” exhibition, more than 400 paintings by the young artists are on display at the Union of Artists Exhibition Hall. Twenty-one works by Yevgenia Fedina-Penkrat are being shown at the Sarai Gallery at the Anna Akhmatova Museum.

This year, by tradition, music lovers will enjoy many of works by old favorites as well as young composers.

“From the very beginning the festival has aimed to convey an educative message to the audience,” festival director Rogalyov said. “It is high time to think about the cultural life of St. Petersburg. The provinciality of the city is progressing. We got the bug of having different get-togethers from Moscow but just few real cultural events are held in the city on a regular basis.”

Surprisingly, Rogalyov said the 100th anniversary of the birth of Shostakovich was not, in fact, the main reason the festival is addressing his musical heritage this year.

Rather, he said, Shostakovich was “the greatest composer of the 20th century” who reflected in his music the tragedy and complexity of his era — reasons to celebrate him at any time.

Through the prism of Shostakovich’s music, compositions by his contemporaries and other distinguished composers of the previous century, such as Alexander Mosolov, Boris Arapov, Alfred Shnitke and Arnold Shoenberg convey a retrospective world view and “show that even absolutely contrary musical compositions merge into one integral picture of that complicated time,” Rogalyov said.

The festival’s opening concert on Wednesday was held at the Large Philharmonic Hall. Harpist Irina Donskaya and the Mariinsky Theater’s youth orchestra, conducted by Alexander Titov presented compositions by Tolib Shakhidi, Josef Schillinger, Shostakovich, Mosolov and Nikolai Roslavets.

On Thursday, Oleg Malov, Anna Shakina, Maria Murileva and Irina Berezhanskaya presented a piano concerto of the compositions by Shostakovich and his contemporary composer Boris Arapov.

On Friday, the Andreyev Orchestra of Russian Folk Instruments conducted by Dmitry Khokhlov performs at the Large Philharmonic Hall at 7 p.m. At the same time at the Small Philharmonic Hall, Olga Kondina, Boris Kondin, Igor Uryash present a program called “The Lofty and the Earthly.”

On Saturday, a chamber music concert will be given at the Sheremetyev Palace where compositions by young Danish composers Niklas Schmidt and Piter Helms, Finnland’s Mikka Kalio and Russia’s Ilya Kuznetsov will be performed.

At the Anna Akhmatova Museum, a concert by young composers from Russia and Finland will take place on Saturday, while at the Shalyapin Museum, a concert called “Shostakovich and his Traditions” will be given.

On Monday, “New Babylon” (“Noviy Babilon”), a film made in 1929, will be presented at the House of Journalists (Dom Zhurnalista), with a reconstructed score by Shostakovich.

A concert called “From the Baroque to…” will be given at the Small Philharmonic Hall on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, composer Boris Tishchenko will make an appearance at the Anna Akhmatova Museum.

Classical compositions will be interpreted in a humorous way at a “kitsch” concert on Thursday at the House of Journalists. The festival’s closing event is a performance of the opera “The Messiah, the son of Man” by Grayr Khanedanyan which will take place at the Hermitage Theater on Saturday, March 25.

One of the missions of the festival is “to redress an injustice” and to present the compositions of “undeservedly forgotten” musicians, Rogalyov said.

In its 15-year history, the festival has brough back to life many works by 20th-century composers including “The Nightingale” by Igor Stravinsky (at the Mariinsky Theater), Sergei Prokofiev’s cantata “For the 20th Anniversary of the October Revolution,” and Mosolov’s piano concerto and opera “The Hero.”

By Yelena Andreyeva

Special to St. Petersburg Times

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