on 30 May 2005

Musical Olympus

The 10th International Festival "Musical Olympus" is traditionally held in St. Petersburg but this year it started in Moscow on 26th May and the next day moved to the Northern Capital.

The Musical Olympus International Festival is a parade of winners. It has been held annually since 1996 and presents the winners of the biggest international music competitions such as the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, the ARD in Munich, the Sibelius Competition in Helsinki, the Maria Callas Grand Prix in Athens, and many others. The festival was founded 10 years ago by the prominent St. Petersburg pianist, Irina Nikitina. We were lucky enough to interview this talented woman who created the unique festival and gave the public an opportunity to hear the world’s best young musicians accompanied by the renowned orchestras of St. Petersburg. Irina is the President of the Musical Olympus Foundation. She is a citizen of Switzerland and constant traveler. She described herself as "A native St. Petersburger though I feel like a cosmopolitan, as a man that can accommodate many worlds, nationalities and cultural perceptions. I constantly travel around the world and feel comfortable and freely everywhere, in the East and in the West."

Q.: How did you come up with the idea for the festival?
A.: It started with the fact that I am a professional musician and had won many competitions myself, and I clearly understood that it’s very important to give laureates of international competitions a good spring-board. The name, "Musical Olympus", is a little glamourous of course. However, every Olympus needs to be climbed and each step is very important.

Q.: How many musicians have taken part in your festival?
A.: Over the last 10 years we have had 250 participants from 40 countries.

Q.: What does the Musical Olympus Foundation do during the rest of the year?
A.: We have many other musical projects. For example, in recent years we organized the recital tour of Mikhail Pletnev... We will be presenting the MOMIX American physical dance theatre in Moscow and St. Petersburg. We also hold the Annual Musical Olympus Charitable Ball and organize many other concerts and tours.

Q.: How are the participants selected?
A.: When you have to choose among the laureates of the competitions... it is like a field of flowers... you try to choose those buds that will most beautifully blossom. It is a special intuition, you need to guess in time that the person has a great potential as a musician.

Q.: How would you describe the age range of the participants?
A.: These are musicians of the "competition" age - so no older than 30-31. Sometimes it might be a child prodigy like last year when I brought a Chinese girl, she was 12 years old. Rachel Cheung Wai-Ching... She played the grand piano and it was not just a show... you could listen to it seriously with your eyes closed.

The festival in St. Petersburg started on 27th May with a piano recital in the Small Glinka Hall of St. Petersburg Philharmonia. Other concerts of the festival this year took place in the Grand Shostakovich Philharmonic Hall. On 29th May, the public heard such laureates of international competitions as Jorg Halubek (organ, Germany), Olivier Marron (cello, France), Lisa Schneider (violin, Russia) and Ivona Sobotka (soprano, Poland). They were accompanied by the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Fabien Gabel (France), the winner of the Donatella Flick Conducting Competition in London in 2004. The concert on May 30th featured such winners as Adriano Del Sal (guitar, Italy), Ekaterina Mechetina (piano, Russia) Ivan Stolbov (clarinet, Russia), Alexander Lipai (flute, USA). On June 1st, soloists Vadim Kholodenko (Ukraine), Dong Hyek Lim (South Korea) and Alexei Volodin (Russia) performed compositions for piano and orchestra by R. Strauss, Chopin, Rachmaninov, accompanied by the St. Petersburg Academic Symphonic Orchestra.

Author: Julia Ivanova  

Edition: Neva News  

Date: 30.05.2005