The world famous Mariinsky Orchestra of St. Petersburg, Russia, led by Maestro Valery Gergiev came to Ottawa. It has a long tradition of excellence and continues to represent the best of the performing arts, featuring world-class artists from around the globe.
On Sunday afternoon (October 23, 2011) my wife Kristina and I along with Milena (Kristina's daughter) enjoyed a performance of two Tchaikovsky symphonies: 'Winter Daydreams', 1866, and 'Pathetique', 1893. With some 70 musicians on stage at the National Arts Centre (NAC), it was an outstanding event. It is hard to imagine a finer performance of the Tchaikovsky most accomplished works. The three of us were delighted at such such high calibre art that we had tears in our eyes.
Conductor Gergiev with his minimalist gestures clearly did his job at hand in thrilling the sold-out audience at NAC. As Artistic Director of the Marinsky Theater since 1988, Valery Gergiev has taken Marinsky ensembles to 45 countries and brought universal acclaim to this legendary institution (formerly called 'Kirov' during the Soviet era), now in its 229th season.
His leadership has resulted in the superb new Mariinsky Concert Hall, opened in November 2006 and the Mariinsky Label, launched in 2009. Currently Principal Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra and The World Orchestra for Peace, Valery Gergiev is also founder and Artistic Director of the Stars of the White Nights and New Horizons festivals in St. Petersburg, the Moscow Easter Festival, the Gergiev Rotterdam Festival, the Mikkeli International Festival, and the Red Sea Festival in Eilat, Israel.
Following this outstanding concert, we had an opportunity to attend a Reception where we personally met Gergiev and heard him address the audience in English. What struck me in meeting him was his pierching eyes which reminded me of the eyes of world class Russian writer and philosopher Lev N. Tolstoy. Yet Gergiev like the genius Tolstoy seems to be a man of the people.
The Ambassador of the Russian Federation, Georgiy Mamedov, officially welcomed the Maestro to Canada. He said that Russians and Americans 'once loved their intercontinental rockets, but it is much better to love the tradition of excellence of Gergiev and the Marinsky Orchestra'.
In the Program handout, Mamedov wrote this about Gergiev: 'His signature conducting style seems suited to his penchant for these dramatic works. His hands move as though he is painting in the air or dancing with his fingers.' Beautifully said! For all music lovers in Canada, it was a night to remember.