At the heart of Russian culture lies the St. Petersburg Conservatory. This center of art and music has educated some of the most famous and influential musicians to ever grace the stage or to compose a concerto. Most notably is Piotr Tchaikovsky, who was a member of its first graduating class.

Paul Wong
These fine people are ready to perform.<br><br>Courtesy of UMS

The St. Petersburg Conservatory was the first music high school in Russia. It chooses the most promising and dedicated musicians, who study piano, voice or violin and perform in various chamber ensembles.

The Conservatory”s current tour celebrates the city of St. Petersburg”s 300th anniversary. Tsar Peter the Great founded the city and the nation plans on commemorating the event with yearlong events. “The city was founded as the capital for Russia and it represented the right for music and all cultural life to flourish in one central location,” said a member of the touring company on the importance of the celebration.

A small elite group that was selected a year ago is visiting Ann Arbor to share the Russian anniversary with the University. These students are mostly postgraduates studying at the Conservatory. They were chosen based on their skill and performance ability.

The program will begin with the Nevsky String Quartet performing Prokofiev”s “Quartet No. 1 in b minor, Op.50.” This quartet was founded in 1995 and has gone on to compete in many competitions. Their most memorable moments include winning the special prize for the best performance of Russian music from IV International Shostakovich Competition. Piotr Laul, who was named a laureate at the Virtuosos of the year 2000 competition last year, will provide the piano accompaniment. Tatiana Bezzubenkova will also enchant the audience on the piano. She has already toured Finland and Germany this year.

The program will also incorporate Pavel Popov on violin. He has made many numerous recordings on CDs and performed live on the radio. The Conservatory”s opera presentation features students from the vocal school of the Conservatory. Alexandra Kovaliova (soprano) and Piotr Migunov (bass) will perform. Piotr”s past performances include “The Wedding” by Stravinsky and “The Bells” by Rachmaninov.

The students and professors chose the pieces together to encompass the different directions the Conservatory takes. European, Russian classical and Russian modern styles will all be showcased at tonight”s concert.

Kovaliova and Migunov will perform “Zemphira and Aleko”s Scene” and “Aleko”s Cavatina” from the opera “Aleko.” This opera helped to establish Rachmaninoff”s legendary reputation. In addition, Gershwin”s “Concert Fantasia on Themes from Porgy and Bess” will also be featured. This compilation was arranged by Frolov to exhibit the fancifulness of the opera. The students will also pay homage to their mentor Tchaikovsky himself by performing Iolanta”s Arioso from “Iolanta.” It first premiered in 1892 in St. Petersburg not far from his old school, the Conservatory.

This program highlights the most beloved Russian music, both classical and modern, being reinvented by the individuals attending the St. Petersburg Conservatory. Tonight, this elite chamber ensemble will dazzle and delight.

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