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Britten-Shostakovich Festival Orchestra Gives Its First Concert in Moscow

13 September 2019

The Britten-Shostakovich Festival Orchestra has had its first concert in Moscow within the tour through Russian and British cities. The concert was held on Thursday at the Tchaikovsky Moscow State Conservatory. The implementation of the project as a part of the UK-Russia Year of Music was provided with the support of Rosneft Oil Company and BP.

The Orchestra was established in tribute to the friendship of two great composers of the 20th century, Dmitry Shostakovich and Benjamin Britten. BSFO is founded and led by Artistic Director of the Kolobov Novaya Opera in Moscow, Jan Latham-Koenig.

During the concert, the audience had the opportunity to appreciate the performing skills of young musicians, as well as the Orchestra’s unique musical programme. It includes “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis” by Ralph Vaughan-Williams, “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” by Rachmaninoff, Britten’s “Four Sea Interludes” from the opera “Peter Grimes”, and Shostakovich’s Suite for Variety Orchestra.

United Kingdom Ambassador to Russia, sir Laurie Bristow, MGIMO rector Anatoliy Torkunov, Tretyakov Gallery Director-General Zelfira Tregulova, and others attended the concert.

The tour started in Sochi in early September. The musicians were rehearsing for a week and then gave the first concerts on September 9 and 10 in the Sirius Park of arts and sciences, a part of Educational Foundation “Talent and Success” established in 2014 upon initiative of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The second concert in the Tchaikovsky Conservatory will be held on September 14. The Russian part of the tour will come to its end with a concert in the St. Petersburg Shostakovich State Philharmonic on September 15. Afterward, from September 17 to September 25, BSFO will be performing in the UK cities in the following succession: Birmingham, Nottingham, Leeds, Manchester, Edinburgh, Basingstoke, and London.

Note for Editors:

Benjamin Britten and Dmitry Shostakovich met for the first time at a concert of the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra in the Royal Festival Hall in 1960, during the tour of Mstislav Rostropovich to Great Britain, where he presented the Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1. The friendship between Britten and Shostakovich was born and maintained at a distance thanks to the constant exchange of scores and recordings through mediation. The main mediators were Rostropovich and his wife Galina Vishnevskaya. Thanks to the music, the friendship of these four friends was capable of overcoming all boundaries.

The Orchestra consists of 86 young musicians from Russia and Great Britain. They represent the Moscow Tchaikovsky State Conservatory, the Saint Petersburg Rimsky-Korsakov State Conservatory, the Rostov Rachmaninoff State Conservatory, the Gnessin Academy of Music, and the Ippolitov-Ivanov Institute of Music. British musicians represent such conservatories as: Royal College of Music (London), Royal Academy of Music (London), Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (Cardiff), Royal Northern College of Music (Manchester), Oxford University Faculty of Music, and Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (Glasgow).

His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent, Irina Shostakovich, Dmitri Shostakovich’s widow and director of the “Dmitri Shostakovich Foundation”, as well as the prominent Russian conductor, Yuri Temirkanov, will be honorary presidents of the Britten-Shostakovich Festival Orchestra.

Rosneft Oil Company traditionally supports large-scale projects aimed at reviving the spiritual and national values of the country, development of science, culture, education, and sports. The Company cooperates with the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, the State Tretyakov Gallery, and the State Hermitage Museum. Rosneft provides support to the Mariinsky Theatre and the St. Petersburg Music House as well as annual performances of Sretensky Monastery chorus in presence regions, it finances the Saint Petersburg Academic Symphony Orchestra, organizes the tours of the St. Petersburg State Ballet Theatre of Boris Eifman, etc.

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September 13, 2019