MUSIC FESTIVAL IN ARKHANGELSKOYE
«THE ROOTS AND THE CROWN»
(FROM PRISTINE ETHNIC MUSIC ORIGINS TO BAROQUE SOPHISTICATION)
July-September 2007

1. INTRODUCTION

The acoustic musical instruments which are now played across the world did not originate yesterday or even a century ago. Their origin dates back to times immemorial, the time period of the crusades or an even earlier time, the period of the biblical past. Many of those instruments have passed through a string of ages and countries and undergone modification, gradually evolving into modern violins, flutes, guitars. Other instruments have disappeared from the professional music environment or survived only as museum exhibits, collector items or folk music instruments.

Music played on folk instruments is now more precisely referred to as ethno music because it is associated with definite ethnic communities.

Professional musicians nowadays take up ethnic instruments or their European analogs when playing medieval or renaissance music works.

Changes have also affected the human vocal techniques. Some nations have retained in their culture certain singing skills that date back to the old times. Some modern vocal ensembles seek to revive old traditions and an atmosphere of the past ages.

However the linkage between the ancient and modern instruments, the historical and modern sound-making practice is not always easy to discern.

Our mission is to make it easier to grasp not only this linkage but also the fact that ethnic, medieval and baroque instruments and music are very much alive and modern performers and their audiences alike respond to them with elation and enjoyment.

We want to show the virility of nature and the finesse of culture, the purity and clarity of the sources and the refined sophistication of what came after; how deep and strong the roots were and how diverse parts of the crown are.

2. WHY NOW

The 20th century witnessed a revival of interest in the music of the past in its authentic form. Musicians began looking for period instruments. Instrument makers began making copies of the original pieces. Following which, as the genuine instruments differed from modern ones, original music playing techniques began to be explored and mastered. The process came to be referred to as «authentism», or «historical practice», i.e. historically authentic performance of old music on the instruments and in the style of past epochs. The authentism movement is attracting ever more enthusiasts from among both performers and audiences. The baroque epoch with its most refined, exquisite, strange and paradoxical culture has always evoked the greatest interest in the history of music. But interest has already moved in retrospect from the baroque period to the Renaissance to the Middle Ages to the ethnic sources and expanded wider across countless countries with their national identities. Interest has also enhanced in ethnic music works that are inseparably linked to their historical performance practice.

At present when the concert halls, radio and television programs are crammed full of the so-called pop culture products, or mass culture pieces, most of which are by far not the best in their category, it is vitally important to turn to the real values of the Russian and worldwide history of music.

3. PERFORMERS AND PROGRAMME

Within the framework of the project presented herein the audiences will have an opportunity to enjoy performances by outstanding musicians, such as the remarkable recorder and harpsichord player Rene Clemencic, who is also the conductor of the world-renowned Clemencic Consort and one of the authentism founding fathers; and the unique singer and hurdy-gurdy player Rene Zosso. The two musicians have lifted to light thick «layers» of medieval and renaissance music, which have become parent to many trends in modern music. Other performers due to come with them are the maestro fidel and dudelsack player Thomas Wimmer, the ancient percussion player Esmail Vasseghi renowned in Europe, and two star vocalists: the counter-tenor Markus Forster and the bass-baritone Andrew Schultze. One of their performances will be devoted to the famous medieval collection of poetry and songs Carmina Burana, which has never yet been played to an audience in Russia.

The festival audiences will also enjoy performances by some of our former compatriots who have succeeded in making their names outside of Russia: the viola da gamba player Sergey Istomin (Khokhlov) from France, the chalumeau and baroque clarinet player Nikolai Tarasov from Canada, and the recorder player Ivan Shumilov from Sweden.

As regards Russian domestic performers, it is appropriate to mention first of all Anatoly Grindenko who will be wearing two hats at the festival: as the leader of the famous Old Russian Chant choir that is keen on reviving old Russia’s sacred music and as a viola da gamba player of Bach’s sonatas.

The Sirin ensemble with its sion of traditional Russian vocal and instrumental music.

The Russian baroque music players are members of the two ensembles that have won international acclaim at a number of competitions and festivals. They are Ладъ (Harmony) and The Pocket Symphony ensemble. Their chiefs Alexey Semyonov and Nazar Kozhukhar will play a unique solo programme made up of works by Luigi Madonis, Vivaldi’s now half-forgotten trainee who served at the Russian imperial court of Empress Anna Ioannovna.

A new dimension to the festival theme will be added by two groups — the Insula Magica ensemble from Novosibirsk (acclaimed by audiences in Russia and abroad for its performance of Renaissance music) and the matchless children’s ensemble La Campanella whose members appear in period costumes to play, dance and sing medieval music works.

The festival will conclude with Enchanting festivities in honour of the Sun King (Le Roi Soleil), the grandiose ballet performance choreographed by Natalia Kaidanovskaya to Jean-Baptiste Lully’s music. The ballet features many of the roles which Louis XIV danced in his time.

The festival to be held in the fascinating Arkhangelskoye memorial estate near Moscow will give audiences the possibility to listen to musical masterpieces in the midst of authentic paintings, sculptures, architectural and landscape wonders of world renown, including works by Pietro Gonsago, Anthony van Dyck, and G. B. Tiepolo.

4. DATES AND VENUES

The festival opens on Saturday, July 14 to completion on Sunday, September 2, 2007.

The performances are due to begin in Arkhangelskoye at 7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

The main concert hall is at the Gonsago Theatre, the inimitable historical and cultural structure.

Some performers will be welcome to play to audiences at other venues in Moscow, including the Tsaritsino Palace-and-Park Estate; the Art Studies Institute (Golitsin mansion) and the Ostankino memorial museum/estate.

Festival coverage is to be provided by the Rossia, Mayak and Culture radio stations, as well as the Culture TV and TV Center Stations.

5. SPONSORSHIP AND FUNDING

The festival will be held under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture and Mass Communications of the Russian Federation.

The Arkhangelskoye memorial state puts its unique artistic interiors with their fine acoustics at the festival’s disposal.

The embassies of Sweden, France, Austria, the Netherlands, and Ireland are contributing funds to finance the performances. Talks are now underway with the Pro-Helvetia Endowment, Switzerland on its contribution to the project.

If the festival preparation process runs smoothly, there is every reason to believe that this important and interesting cultural event in Russia will be crowned with success and the festival will rank with the top world music festivals in its category.

Перевод с русского — В. Поляков

 
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