Warm winter melodies resound

International Classical Music Festival January Music Nights celebrates its 25th anniversary
By Valentina Kozlovskaya

It’s impossible to imagine the Christmas holidays without music in Brest. Its Academic Drama Theatre has been entertaining us for the past 25 years and, on January 8th, the 15th January Music Nights classical concerts began.

The wonderful event is organised by Honoured Artist of Belarus Lilia Batyreva who, this year, gathered musicians from 25 countries: over 700 in all, including about 70 soloists. For the first time, those from the United States, Jamaica, Denmark and Sweden took part.

Stars included Russian tenor Vladislav Piavko, pianist Boris Blokh, violinists Liana Isakadze and Zakhar Bron, first flute with Italian opera houses Antonio Amenduni and bass singer Ali Askerov — a soloist with the Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre, who was invited to sing at mass in 2002 by Pope John Paul II. In addition, a trio of Italian tenors took part, including Roberto Costi — the last and most beloved pupil of Luciano Pavarotti. Two concerts were led by People’s Artist of Russia Svyatoslav Belza.

Also performing was violinist Yulia Igonina — one of the most prominent Russian musicians of her young generation, known for playing a violin made by Italian Vincenzo Panormo (1700), provided by the Russian State Collection of Unique Musical Instruments.

The opening evening of the festival was in the hands of young musicians, with the overture played by soloists and ensembles of Brest Music College (named after G. Shirma). Talented students from Moldova, Poland, Belarus and Lithuania then performed, followed by soloists and musicians from the National Academic People’s Orchestra of Belarus (named after I. Zhinovich). 
The Orchestra was participating in the festival for the first time, giving its hour-long concert, led by its artistic director and chief conductor, People’s Artist of Belarus Professor Mikhail Kozinets. The latter has been on the stage of January Music Nights more than 15 times, so received not only a certificate for taking part but a special guest souvenir.

President Lukashenko sent greetings to all participants and guests, saying, “I’m sure that the current jubilee festival will give fans a memorable celebration of classical music, enriching the spiritual wealth of our country and further strengthening friendship between peoples.”

After the official ceremony, there was a musical ‘tsunami’ in the form of a 50-minute performance of Giovanni Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater. Soloists of the Perm Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre (named after P.I. Tchaikovsky) Nadezhda Babintseva and Irina Krikunova sang psalms, accompanied by the State Symphony Orchestra, under chief conductor Alexander Anisimov, joined by the children’s choir of Minsk musical school #10. The festival continued with a parade of young talent and masters whose ability to delight was unstoppable.

January has brought Brest’s music lovers another gift: the reopening of the Brest Region Philharmonic after reconstruction.
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