Music under ancient walls
Sophia Cathedral concert hall opens 31st season
By Igor Svetlov
In September, one of Europe’s top halls hosted the Belarusian State Chamber Orchestra — conducted by Honoured Artist of Russia Yevgeny Bushkov and featuring outstanding Polotsk organist Ksenia Pogorelaya. The programme comprised two concerts for the organ with the František Xaver Brixi Orchestra and Mendelssohn’s Bartholdy Symphony #10.
Formed in 1968, the Minsk Chamber Orchestra (as it was then known) gave its first concert at Sophia Cathedral in 1983, conducted by well-known Russian composer and organist Oleg Yanchenko, as well as by Yuri Tsiryuk and Piotr Vandilovsky. Today, the Art Director and Chief Conductor of the Orchestra is Honoured Artist of Russia Yevgeny Bushkov.
Ksenia Pogorelaya is a laureate of international competitions and one of the brightest Belarusian organists and pianists, giving up to 300 concerts annually. She helps organise the Zvany Safii (Sophia Bells) International Organ Festival and takes part in the Masterpieces of World Organ Art project, as well as organ festivals across Western Europe. She has also made recordings for Belarusian radio and television.
The Sophia Cathedral concert hall is marking its 30th anniversary this year, having hosted its first event on February 19th, 1983. In 1985, Czech company Rieger Kloss installed a tailor-made organ which has become an integral part of the interior of Sophia Cathedral, drawing attention from professional and amateur musicians.
The Sophia Cathedral concert hall is among Europe’s best and has welcomed musicians from 25 countries, playing at over 300 concerts of organ and chamber music annually. For 25 years, the international festival of early and modern chamber music has aroused keen interest among not only Polotsk residents but numerous guests. The International Zvany Safii Organ Festival is the only international festival of organ music in Belarus.