The Winter International Arts Festival in Sochi, artistic director Yuri Bashmet, is now one of the most famous and significant cultural forums in Russia.
Over the thirteen years of its existence, this annual festival has become a signature feature of the winter Sochi, the main cultural platform in Russia, and the key cultural winter event in Europe. The leading world musicians and artists, numerous tourists and the press come to the festival. Since 2011, the Sochi Festival has been the European Association of Festivals member; it is currently one of the top 20 world festivals.
Over the recent years, the program and the strategy for the development of the festival have been created within the framework of the long-term development concept, which was supported by President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin. One of its main tasks is the construction of a major international creative project.
Every year, the festival comes up with a unique and diverse program that engages the best Russian and international artists and collectives. Many world premieres take place at the festival; great attention is paid to the young artists and audience and their education. The program of the festival includes an international conference for directors of cultural institutions and festivals and managers of cultural projects.
The Winter International Arts Festival in Sochi has become an event that sets the current trends in the development of Russian and world culture. The festival is a striking case of how one can create a unique wide-scale cultural project and gain recognition in the world cultural community in a matter of ten years.
The year 2021 is destined to become a turning point in history. This will be the year of the world’s difficult return to normal life after the pandemic. Culture and academic art addressed to people will play an even greater role in their lives.
Traditionally scheduled for the second half of February 2021, the Winter International Arts Festival in Sochi is meant to become the starting point for Russia on the path of recovery of the entire industry of professional academic art.
World creative industries and professional art now play an ever-increasing role in public awareness and the construction of the new environment for human interaction and personal fulfilment. The public image of any modern state is based on much more than its strong economy and political and military might. The image of a country today is largely defined by its role in the world’s cultural and creative space.
The Winter International Arts Festival in Sochi is one of such symbols of Russian culture.
The XIV International Winter Arts Festival in Sochi directed by Yuri Bashmet is the first one after the pandemic, yet in terms of its richness, eventfulness and brightness of its events it is by no means inferior to the previous ones. For ten days, its audience see premieres and masterpieces of symphonic, concert, and chamber music, as well as opera, ballet, jazz, drama, and traditional European folk music concerts.
Despite it being the fourteenth festival in Sochi, it is hard to think of an opening gala concert that would match the one scheduled for February 19, 2021 at the Winter Theater in its grander. Its first part is “the parade of world premieres.” The Sochi public will hear the new pieces commissioned by the festival by the already familiar composers Wang Jie (China) and Valery Voronov (Belarus), as well as works by composers who join the maestro Bashmet’s festival for the first time – Gabriela Ortiz (Mexico) and the composer and virtuoso flautist Gareth McLearnon (United Kingdom). The second part will feature a constellation of virtuoso performers: violinist Vadim Repin, pianist Andrey Gugnin, but the most sensational moment will be the performance of the brilliant prima donna Aida Garifullina, who will sing at the Sochi festival for the first time. World premieres will also take place at the festival closing gala; these will be the orchestral piece by the British composer Charlotte Bray and the concerto for electric guitar and orchestra by the Belgian composer Patrick De Clerck who is a regular guest of Yuri Bashmet’s festivals.
There is but another surprise in store for opera lovers. Laureate of two Grammy awards, “Oscar della Lirica,” and the Russian national theatre award “The Golden Mask,” Ildar Abdrazakov is a bass-baritone who sings on the leading world stages with over forty roles in his repertoire. He will present a concert program with young opera singers: soloist of the Mariinsky theatre Elena Stikhina and guest soloist of the Metropolitan Opera and the Bolshoi theatre Olesya Petrova.
The traditional ballet night will this time be devoted to the legend of the Soviet ballet Galina Ulanova. The concert prepared by the People’s Artist of Russia, rector of the Vaganova Ballet Academy Nikolai Tsiskaridze will feature the soloists of the Bolshoi, the Mariinsky, and the Capitole de Toulouse (France) ballet companies, as well as students and trainees of the Academy.
Another dance night will give the audience a chance to meet Marina Heredia, “the living legend of flamenco.” She combines flamenco freely with the elements of jazz, rock, argentine tango, gipsy and Caribbean music. The Sochi audience will see Marina Heredia’s show Garnata devoted to Granada, her home city and the ancient cradle of flamenco.
The Italian ensemble Soqquadro Italiano is a regular guest of Yuri Bashmet’s festivals. This time it will present its program Migrant Music devoted to the journeys of musicians and musical traditions in the Mediterranean coastal regions.
In the XIV Sochi festival, jazz art will be represented by Vadim Eilenkrig and his Eilenkrig Crew. In the concert, Vadim will present his brand-new album Newborn. The musician himself says, “This work is my personal view on music. I have never called myself a composer, I have never released several albums in one year, and, in general, I am very skeptical of my own creative endeavors, and even more skeptical of the word “creativity.” However, natural development has to do with new challenges. And this is one of them.”
Theatre has always been a special feature of the Sochi festival. It will be so this time as well. The one-man play Don’t Leave Your Planet featuring Konstantin Khabensky has been the traditional unofficial opening event for the Winter Arts Festival for many years. The spectators will also presented three theatre premieres: The Rendezvous in Moscow (music by Aleksandr Tchaikovsky), The Ship of Lovers (music by Kuzma Bodrov) directed by Pavel Safonov, and Hamlet featuring Evgeny Mironov directed by Marina Brusnikina.
Among the chamber concerts, a special place is reserved for Aleksandr Vladimirovich Tchaikovsky 75th jubilee night. An outstanding composer and teacher and an important public figure of modern Russia, Aleksandr Tchaikovsky is a longtime friend of maestro Bashmet. The world celebrated the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven last year, but the Winter Festival continues its Beethoven Marathon. On February 22 in the Organ Hall, the festival will present four successive concerts of piano, violin, and cello sonatas, as well as rare variation cycles by Beethoven performed by young musicians, laureates of international competitions and soloists of the St. Petersburg Music House.
The educational programs of the XIV Winter Festival will include master classes of the Instrumental, Vocal, and Folk Departments and their final concerts, as well as the finals of the Alfred Schnittke and Svyatoslav Richter International Competition for Young Composers. The alternative program of the festival includes the Tournament of Poets, the School for Young Cultural Journalists, the School for Young Producers (a joint project with the European Association of Festivals), open lectures for the youth at the Winter Theater, an exhibition dedicated to Galina Ulanova, and the International conference of directors of cultural institutions of Russia, Europe and Asia, which is a joint project with the St. Petersburg Cultural Forum.
The festival concerts will feature all the collectives created by maestro Yuri Bashmet: the Grammy laureate Moscow Soloists Chamber Orchestra, Novaya Rossiya State Symphony Orchestra, and the All-Russian Youth Symphony Orchestra organized in 2012.