CULTURE

Skalkottas tribute in Moscow

A tribute to Greek composer Nikos Skalkottas, commemorating the 100 years since his birth, will take place in a few days at the Moscow Conservatoire – what Russians consider to be Moscow’s premier music venue, and where personalities such as Tchaikovsky, Mahler and Herbert von Karajan have conducted and soloists like pianist Sviatoslav Richter have played over the years. The tribute will be held with the participation of the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia, the Choir of the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theater and seven acclaimed soloists, under the baton of 32-year-old Greek conductor Theodoros Kourentzis, who lives and works in Moscow. Kourentzis is considered one of Russia’s three most popular maestros, according not only to Russian newspapers but also Dimitris Gialamas, a professor at Lomonosov University, cultural adviser to the Greek Embassy and representative of the Hellenic Foundation for Culture in Moscow. «Tickets to his concerts are sold out weeks beforehand and the press makes lengthy tributes to the so-called Kourentzis phenomenon. A well-known music critic recently described him as ‘the most important hope on the Russian music scene’ for something new,» said Gialamas. In the Skalkottas tribute, Kourentzis (who is also a very close collaborator of famous violinist Vladimir Spivakov) will also conduct the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia in works by other composers from Skalkottas’s era, «works written in different parts of the world which place the Greek composer in the context of the international music scene of his era.» Works include Stravinsky’s «Les Noces» (The Wedding), performed in Moscow for the second time, and Dimitry Shostakovich’s opera «Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk,» which celebrates the 70th anniversary of its composition. «The tragic fate of this work is that it is connected with the fate of all Soviet art, as after its premiere in 1934, the newspaper Pravda published a crushing review, on Stalin’s orders, which swept away all pioneering forms of art and imposed the monocracy of socialist realism for years,» added Gialamas. Kourentzis will present a selection of parts of the opera that had annoyed Stalin. Another aim of the Hellenic Foundation for Culture in Moscow is to promote modern Greek literature. For the first time, there will be Greek participation at the «NON/FICTION 6» book fair, including writers such as Cavafy, Andreas Embirikos, Miltos Sachtouris and others, while parallel events will present post-Soviet book production (1993-2004). An anthology of Greek surrealist writers is in the works for next year, which will feature major works by Embirikos again, Nikos Engonopoulos, Nikos Gatsos and Odysseas Elytis, translated into Russian for the first time. The next step is the translation into Greek of Costas Tachtsis’s «The Third Wedding Wreath» and the complete works of E.H. Gonatas. As of 2005, a prize for the best translation will be awarded at the «NON/FICTION» book fair. Other events include a tribute to Miltos Sachtouris, a concert of Dimitris Mitropoulos’s work on Cavafy’s poetry and more.