Russians are a very educated people...95% graduate from high school...ask them to recite poetry and most can deliver on the spot. They are also passionate about the arts... love theater, opera, ballet, (can you say “Bolshoi”?). During Soviet times, artists were driven underground but have since re-emerged with a very high standard of excellence in art, music and literature.
Over the last 2 weeks I had the honor of volunteering with the International Tchaikovsky Competition...held in Moscow every 4 years, (this year, part of the event was held in St. Petersburg). Competitors from all over the world compete in piano, cello, voice and violin. I have been working with the piano and cello juries and have had the pleasure of getting to know some of the most esteemed artists in the business. Several on each jury have been past winners of this competition, all have extremely extensive resumes....take Sir Clive Gillinson on the cello jury...he was the past Director of the London Symphony Orchestra and is currently the Executive Director of Carnegie Hall. These jurors are extremely down to earth and quite fascinating to talk to.
|Crowds gathering before the competition...|
Between performances I’ve wandered down the creaky hallways of the Moscow Conservatory, (built in the 1800’s - Tchaikovsky himself taught in this building). There are small practice rooms on the top floors and to stand and listen outside the door - it’s actually difficult to describe the heavenly sounds. There is quite a mystique surrounding the building.
|Beautiful sounds coming from these open windows...|
The first competition was held in 1958 and a surprise to everyone...a young Texan, Van Cliburn, took first prize. Here is a brief video of his win:
We are down to the 3rd and final round...5 competitors left (out of 30) in the piano competition. Tonight, the competitors will play with a full orchestra - exciting! You can watch via webcast if interested, per the link below, (competition starts at 7 p.m., Moscow time, for the next 2 days and 1 p.m. Wed and Thurs):
I have a new love and appreciation for classical music. Thank you Moscow!