||Forty-seventh “St. Petersburg Musical Spring” – That’s a lot? A little? Enough?
. . . I remember how at the end of the 1980’s when through the windows flew in the breeze of the perestroika. A conversation began to spring up between the members of our Union of Composers about how the festival “Leningrad Musical Spring” had largely exhausted itself. We really have to celebrate the 25th “Spring” and then look for new and original ways to propagate the contemporary music of Leningrad . . .
The anniversary festival of 1989 really went off in a big way, but it didn’t become the last one. In all, our authors, with all the stimulating possibilities of the previous festival performances, continued to stash away in their creative portfolios new compositions. Western composers and performers, attracted by the beauty of our city and the perspective of participating in the “whirl” of the cultural capital of Russia, naturally began to become part of the festival life in St. Petersburg. As usual, many performing collectives and soloists expressed an interest to participate in the festival activities. Without drying out the budget, the city powers, with pride, struck up a pose that said the “St. Petersburg Musical Spring” is one of the cultural brands of the city . . .
All these situations negated the abstract discussion about the death of the festival idea and it turned out that we just had to continue the life of our chief compositional festival. Having leafed through the festival booklet of the last 20 years, I think that there really aren’t that many cities that would expose the public to such large-scale forums almost completely composed of new music. I’m convinced that in the middle of a hundred kilograms of scores and keyboard works that have been “sounded” in past festivals, there are those works, which will outlive not only us but also the next generations to come . . .
That’s how we have come to our 47th festival. What will the future hold?
There are many indicators that, as usual, the upcoming “Spring” will be quite impressive. 18 concerts will take place (5 orchestral, 2 choir, 9 chamber, 1 electronic and 1 children’s) in 14 festival days, on the central city stages, with the participation of a large number of musical performers. During the days of the festival, the public can hypothetically listen to more than 130 works; hundreds with the added bonus of the authors presence. A vast number of the presented works belong to members of our Union of Composers. Many of these works are also being heard for the first time in the festival.
In agreement with the past tradition and foundation of the concert programs of the festival, each concert has a thematic principal. Each concert has a defined title containing within it a concrete idea, which dictates a whole selection of performed works.
Our festival will open with an orchestra concert, which is called “My Petersburg.” In the series of three concerts, under the title “In the World of St. Petersburg Orchestral Music,” we were able to uphold a clear principle of genre delineation. The first evening of the series is dedicated to the genre of the symphony. The second evening is dedicated to program music and the third evening is dedicated to the genre of instrumental and vocal concerts. It is significant that 23 works for orchestra will be performed in the festival, by any means not a small number.
Four variegated concerts will present a motely, but content filled, mosaic of instrumental and vocal chamber music united under the title “St. Petersburg Kamerata.”
The solo concerts of St. Petersburg composer-performers promise to be interesting pages in the festival. For example, Sergei Oskolkov as a pianist will present a program called “A look at Russia in the 90’s” containing an original sonata dialogue of his compositions with compositions of that time by Grigory Firtich. Elena Igotti will perform an evening of vocal music. She will perform an intriguing inclusion of her own compositions, a demonstration of performance techniques and folklore themes. The concert will go under the title of a famous aphorism of Glinka “Music creates the people . . .”
The festival, as always, anxiously awaits the anniversary and memorial dates of the living and deceased St. Petersburg authors and honors them with performances of their works on these days. In this fashion, the concert “Yuri Falik” defines its fundamental concept. There will be collection of compositions performed for women’s choir dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the composer’s birthday.
Expanding the musical “geography” of the festival, there will be a concert called “Bulgarian Music on the Shores of the Heva.” For a panorama of chamber music by Russian composers, the Moscow ensemble “Gallery of Actual Music” will present a concert called “Through the Cities and Villages.” Another guest of the festival the Saratov Province Choir Theater will perform a concert composed exclusively by St. Petersburg authors.
The stylistic festival palette of the this year will be enriched by an evening of works by St. Petersburg composers addressed specifically for a democratic audience (“Music for Everybody”), a concert of electronic music by composers of St. Petersburg and New York (“On This Side of the Dawning”), an educational concert for children and teens of compositions by St. Petersburg composers (“A Musical Offering to the Future”). Finally, the originality of the closing concert of the festival (“In Serious and Non-serious Genres”) is due to the presence of face-to-face comparisons of the forms of “serious” and “light” orchestral music of St. Petersburg artists.
All the details of the concert programs are given in this year’s festival booklet, a feature, which this year became an extensive annotated section complete with texts by the authors about their compositions. These texts contain not only factual information about the compositions but also give a description and often the authors own assessment.
That will be our 47th International Festival “ St. Petersburg Musical Spring.” What will come next? Next – “to be continued.” Surely every year the volume of creative suggestions sufficiently exceeds the possibilities of our realization within the next festival. With that in mind we save the “overflow” works, as a rule, and perform them in the next year. By that time a new solid “suitcase” of symphonic, choral and chamber opuses is spilling over. New ideas and suggestions spring up and new creative anniversaries appear. All of this accumulated “housework” needs to be linked and dispersed into different programs and “brought to the ears” of our listeners . . . .. Quite soon – in three years – will be the hour of our 50th “Musical Spring.” What a Perpetua Mobile! And thank God!
Summing up, the questions presented in the title page of this article can be answered as such: forty-seven “St. Petersburg Musical Springs” – that’s a lot, but not enough!
All that is left from the heart to say is that I wish for: composers – to create, performers – to interpret, musicologist – to write about creation, the respected public – to visit the festival concerts, which are free of charge. I wish for everybody together, in these days of May, to have a feeling of happiness, pleasure and joy of the creative experience.
“St. Petersburg Musical Spring”