VII Winter International Arts Festival in Sochi
“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 XXII 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 school.
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 podium.
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 XXII Winter Olympic Games and XI Paralympic Games 2014 become an international cultural capital”, Dmitry Chernyshenko, president of Sochi 2014 Organising Committee, noted.
The time will come when the XXII 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.
Materials of the VII Winter International Arts Festival in Sochi