on 01 May 2005

The Musical Olympus

Irina Nikitina, president of the Musical Olympus Fund, admits that, if pushed, she could easily moonlight as an air stewardess - as a producer and director, she spends much of her time jelling across the globe. She has flown into St. Petersburg for just 40 hours. We met with Irina at her apartment in the center of the city, with its beautiful view out onto the Moika. The next day, Nikitina was to travel on to Moscow, and then Europe.

Have you been disappointed by the fact that, in Russia, all cultural projects are achieved with difficulty and bring little in the way of profit?
We’ve never set ourselves the task of earn-ing money. For us, it’s important that we bring new, young talents to Russia from around the globe, to our yearly Musical Olympus Festival, which will be celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. We’ve seen how we’ve "predicted" the success of certain performers, and seen them developing into stars. It’s great and very rewarding when famous musicians says ?Yes, we were right at the beginning of our create journey when we were in Petersburg.?

People say that you can pall something major off if you’ve got very good connections? Have you found the going tough? Have you got any enemies?
Enemies? I don’t know what they are. There are probably some who don’t wish us well, but there’s no point in paying attention to anything other than constructive criticism. Struggling or fighting against someone is just a waste of time and energy. When someone’s jealous, or spiteful, they stop growing. There’s been none of that in my upbringing. As far as connections are concerned... Contacts are very important, I’m someone that socializes quite a lot, but it’s not only contacts that get things done - it’s also creative energy, and a sense of purpose. When I created the festival, I had a lot more contacts than I do today. But now the project itself has been "grown over" with people who enjoy being our soul mates, our trustees and participants. Every artist, for example, during the festival, gets the use of their own BMW, and that’s thanks to Aksel-Motors. The young talents live in wonderful hotels - the Astoria, the Grand Hotel Europe, and the Pribaltiyskaya - and they are treated to meals by the wonderful Palkin Restaurant. Thanks to the atmosphere that reigns at the festival, the artists feel comfortable, they only have to think about their work, and they can win over listeners.

Do you have a cultural mission for our country, or would that be going too far? Do your plans include the rebirth of Russia?

Well, we could endlessly debate that question, and who could possibly be capable of achieving that. In order that there be a rebirth, something has to have died in the first place. We had a difficult time here in the 20th Century, and we got through it with dignity. I see a lot of positive factors in what we’ve been through, and they influence us, our internal world, our human essence, our educations, our attitude to money, and the way that we spend it. For example, a lot of people in the West think that we’re totally insane the way we get through our money. But that’s how we live! Western people would sit on that money for years without doing anything with it. But we’re open about everything, we take a very broad approach - that’s just a result of our spiritual generosity.

This year the Musical Olympus Festival is beginning in Moscow. Does that mean that it will gradually move to the capital, eventually becoming a Muscovite festival?
No, we’re not planning that. There will only be one concert in Moscow. And that’s just a present to the capital from the city on the Neva.

Very recently you’ve been at the World Forum of Young Leaders in Hawaii, at conferences in Cuba, and then to London and Paris on business. In a general sense, you live in the western world and according to western standards. Aren’t you afraid to return to Petersburg, which is still far from being on an equal footing with Europe?
On the contrary, I’m always seeing changes for the better. I think that people are better off, and they’re much calmer about the future. It’s now a pleasure to walk through the center of the city. There are more and more good restaurants, and the tact of the service is getting better.
Like any big city, Petersburg needs beautiful cultural events and we’re going to try and create them.

The Musical Olympus Festival:
The cultural programs of the Musical Olympus Fund are well-established both in Russia and in the international arena, as they are all distinguished by the originality of their concepts and their high levels of artistry and organization. In February 2003, the Fund was producer of a concert marking the opening of the German-Russian Cultural Meetings 2003-2004 which was held in Berlin and attended by the Russian President and German Federal President. The concert was broadcast live on the Kultura Channel in Russia and ZDE in Germany. A new long-term project for the Fund is an exclusive concert program entitled "Express Line: St. Petersburg - Moscow." The main Musical Olympus Festival itself brings together the laureates of the world’s leading music competitions for young performers.

Author: Rodion CHEPALOV  

Edition: PULSE  

Date: 01.05.2005