“Your wonderful creative festival was born just few years ago. But despite
that, it has become a notable and remarkable event in the cultural
life of Sochi and Russia as a whole”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin
In 2007, the city of Sochi won its bid to host the XXIII Winter Olympic
Games. The Winter International Arts Festival directed by Yuri
Bashmet was held the following winter for the first time in Sochi.
Initially, the festival was quite moderate but it drew media exposure,
attracted the attention of the general public, gained international
recognition and became an annual event.
Yuri Bashmet, an outstanding musician, violist and conductor,
professor at the Moscow Conservatory, art director of several creative
projects, organizer and member of international competitions
juries, and People’s Artist of the USSR, brought to Sochi two of his
brainchild projects — State symphony orchestra Novaya Rossiya
and Grammy Award-winning Moscow Soloists Chamber Orchestra.
Under the artistic direction of the maestro, both bands gained
the widest recognition in Russia and abroad. The festival concerts
featured soloists — young musicians who have deserved, however,
the status of worthy successors of the traditions of Russian performing
With each year, the Sochi Winter Arts Festival got stronger and
grew. The number of events increased and the range of soloists expanded.
The Sochi Winter Theatre and the Organ & Chamber Music
Hall of the Sochi Philharmonic all hosted world-famous musicians,
such as singers Jessye Norman, Angelika Kirchschlager, Anna
Samuil and Dinara Aliyeva, soloists from Russia’s Bolshoi Theatre
and the Vienna State Opera, flutists James Galway and Massimo
Mercelli, violinists Maxim Vengerov, Vadim Repin, Mayu Kishima,
Renaud Capuçon, Graf Murzha and Nikolai Sachenko, cellists
Alexander Knyazev, Alexander Buzlov, Enrico Dindo and Giovanni
Sollima, pianist Denis Matsuev, Olli Mustonen, Alexander Melnikov,
Boris Spassky, Murad Adygezal-zade and Oleg Maisenberg,
organists Jean-Baptiste Dupont and Iveta Apkalna. Teodor Currentzis,
Valery Gergiev, Krzysztof Penderecki, Alexander Sladkovsky,
Johannes Wildner and Emil Tabakov all mounted the conductor’s
These venues hosted concerts by Europe’s famous chamber ensembles.
Participating in the festival concerts were popular TV presenters
Svyatoslav Belza and Artem Vargaftik, actors Ksenia Rappoport
and Konstantin Khabensky, Alex Kravchenko and Ksenia
Lavrova-Glinka, and many others.
Moreover, the genre range of festival events quickly went beyond
purely musical programs — the Winter International Arts
Festival in Sochi hosted stars from the Covent Garden ballet, the
Bolshoi and Mariinsky theatres (among them were Ulyana Lopatkina,
Ilse Liepa and Nikolay Tsiskaridze), Vakhtangov State Academic
Theatre of Russia, Maly Drama Theatre of St. Petersburg, Pyotr Fomenko’s
Workshop, Milan’s famous puppet theatre Carlo Colla e Figli,
as well as the Alexey Rybnikov musical theatre. Russian musical
ensemble Terem-Quartet, Pelageya’s group, Nino Katamadze and
famous jazz musicians and bands, such as Chucho Valdés, Jean-Luc
Ponty, Jacques Loussier Trio, Emir Kusturica & The No Smoking
Orchestra were all guests at the Sochi Winter Arts Festival.
Events of the Festival, some of which were held at Adler and
Krasnaya Polyana, included exhibitions and film screenings, photo
and video art projects, and sporting events. A retrospective of the
films by eminent film director Carlos Saura, Mikhail Shemyakin’s
exhibition, and an anniversary exhibition by the Glinka State Central
Museum of Musical Culture were among the most interesting
“non-musical” events of the Sochi Festival.
The educational activities of the winter forum also deserve special
attention. For maestro Bashmet, teaching work is one of the
major components of his many-sided activities. Creative meetings
with teachers and students of musical schools, master classes and
open classes, concerts featuring talented young musicians have all
become such a steady tradition of the festival as the broad program
of charitable activities
The most spectacular concerts of the Sochi Festival were broadcasted
by TV channel Russia-K, and were widely reported in local
and nationwide media. The eventfulness and genre range attracted
the attention of representatives of the cultural and business elite
in Russia, as well as those of regional and federal authorities. “Your
festival gathers at the Black Sea Russian and foreign stars — composers,
musicians, opera singers and ballet dancers. I’m wishing inspiration
to all the participants of the festival, and an unforgettable
experience to the audience and guests!” — Prime Minister Dmitry
Medvedev noted in his opening speech at the festival.
TV channel Vesti called the 2013 Sochi Festival as “a scattering
of Russian and world stars at the Winter Olympic Games capital”.
Last year, the Sochi Festival appeared on the Internet for the first
time thus making it possible to be viewed around the world. Today,
the Sochi Winter International Arts Festival directed by Yuri Bashmet
and organized by Russian Concert Agency is being held with
active support from the Russian Government, the Ministry of Culture
of the Russian Federation, the Administration of the City of
Sochi and the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee.
The VII Sochi Winter International Arts Festival, which will be
held simultaneously with the Sochi Winter Olympics — from 6 to
20 February 2014 — will achieve the greatest scope. During this period,
Sochi will host concerts by Terem-Quartet, Alexandrov Academic
Ensemble of Song and Dance, world-famous vocal ensemble
“Swingle singers” and Nino Katamadze. There will also be performances
by ballet companies from New York, Berlin, Amsterdam
and Helsinki. Spectators will be entertained with “Shukshin’s Stories”
by The Theatre of Nations, a spectacular and colourful musical
dance show by the National Dance Company of South Korea.
Grammy Award-winning jazz trumpeter and winner of Musician
of the Year Award in the US Brian Lynch will perform as well as
the legendary Igor Butman Big Band. The concert will also feature
world opera stars Barbara Frittoli and Erwin Schrott, who plays
with Argentine band Rojotango, Viktor Tretiakov and Denis Matsuev.
Violinists Agata Szymczewska, Sergei Krylov and Nikita Borisoglebsky
— First Prize winners of the most prestigious international
competitions — will also be performing at the festival. Many
other stars are scheduled to perform as well.
The Mozart Gala concert, jointly organized with the Salzburg
Festival and Mozarteum Foundation will be an outstanding event
of the festival – famous soloists from Italy will prepare a special
program dedicated to rarely known Italian music. Young performing
arts will be presented by students from the famous Kronberg
Academy founded by Mstislav Rostropovich.
Back in 2009, Yuri Bashmet was granted the honorary title of
Ambassador to Russia’s first ever Olympic and Paralympic Winter
Games 2014. “Thanks to Yuri Bashmet’s initiative, the most famous
Russian and foreign musicians and bands now perform in the
Olympic capital. I am absolutely confident that holding the festival
in winter will promote the development of the city as a winter
resort and enable the capital of the XXIII Winter Olympic Games
and XI Paralympic Games 2014 become an international cultural
capital”, Dmitry Chernyshenko, president of Sochi 2014 Organising
The time will come when the XXIII Olympic Winter Games will
come to an end, leaving an indelible mark in the life of Sochi and
in the Russian sports history. But the Winter International Arts
Festival, which, back in 2011, became a member of the European
Festivals Association and was immediately included in the list of
World’s Golden 20 festivals, will continue to expand its activities,
delighting Sochi inhabitants and guests of the city. One can confidently
say that with time, the Sochi Forum will become just as important
as the Salzburg Festival, Glyndebourne Festival and Edinburgh
Festival in the European culture.