MOSCOW – One of the most prestigious international distinctions to be awarded to a Greek artist was given last Saturday. The jury of the Golden Mask Performing Arts Festival bestowed its award for Best Maestro 2007 on the artistic director of the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet, Greek conductor Theodoros Kourentzis. The event took place at the Stanislavski theater in Moscow, in the presence of ministers, members of the press and the local cultural elite. The annual festival – the country’s most popular – includes award categories such as opera, ballet, drama, operetta, puppet theater musical, direction, maestro and soloist. Competing in the festival are theaters such as the Mariinski, Bolshoi and the Stanislavski, along with leading Russian and foreign soloists who collaborate with the Russian companies. Besides Kourentzis’s award for best maestro, a Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet production of Sergei Prokofiev’s «Cinderella» received the Golden Mask for best ballet. Well known for his unconventional character, the Greek maestro did not attend the award ceremony, preferring to send his agent to pick up the award while he stayed on in Novosibirsk to continue a series of recording sessions with his orchestra. Greek audiences will get a taste of Kourentzis and his orchestra at the Athens Concert Hall on June 28 and at the Pireos 260 venue the following day.