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The VII Kustendorf CLASSIC Festival of Russian Music opens in Mečavnik

11 July 2019
The VII Kustendorf CLASSIC Festival of Russian Music opens in Mečavnik

Together with Serbian film director Emir Kusturica, Gazprom Neft has opened the VII Kustendorf CLASSIC Festival of Russian Music in the ethnic village of Drvengrad (also known as Mečavnik). This annual musical event, held in Serbia with the company’s support, is bringing together talented young musicians for what is now the seventh time.

Over the course of three days students from music schools and academies in Russia, Serbia and the Republic of Belarus will compete in performances of Russian classical music in categories including piano, strings, wind and vocals. Contestants’ musical skills and artistry, as well as the difficulty and originality of their repertoires, will be assessed by a prestigious jury including the Rector of the Belarusian State Academy of Music, Ekaterina Dulova; Serbian composer Anja Djordjević; and musician and professor at the Koninklijk Conservatorium, Brussels, Aleksandar Madzar.

In keeping with tradition, the cultural programme at the Kustendorf CLASSIC will include performances from world famous stars. Famous viola player Yuri Bashmet, cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan, founder of the Almazian Symphony Orchestra, violinist Khachatur Almazian, pianist Oleg Vainshtein and, as part of the “Russian Night”, Mariinsky Theatre baritone Vasily Gerello, will all performing at the Festival this year.

Alexander Dybal, member of the Management Board, Gazprom Neft, commented: “The Festival of Russian Music in Serbia is one of the most outstanding and interesting projects under our ‘Home Towns’ corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme. The atmosphere of boundless creativity that always predominates at the Festival is largely driven by the venue itself — a fantastically beautiful hillside corner of Serbia. Here the founder — and the main ideologue — behind the Kustendorf CLASSIC, Emir Kusturica, has created a landscape unshackled by convention, where everyone is talented, and everyone is equal. The Festival is alive — and keeps on developing. I have no doubt that this year we will, again, be witnesses to an impressive international musical event, bringing talented musicians together and giving them the opportunity to perform on the same stage as international stars.”

Festival founder Emir Kusturica stressed: “Drvengrad is, once again, host to our favourite guests — young musicians taking their very first steps into the world of great art. It’s a very exciting — albeit, at the same time, a very responsible thing — to take the creative path, to find your own world view — which is what, ultimately, marks out the inimitable hand of the genuine master. I am extremely proud of the fact that we are helping talented guys from Serbia, Russia and Belarus to find themselves, and delighted that we are doing this together with our great friends from Gazprom Neft.”

The Festival has taken on a new name in 2019 — the Kustendorf CLASSIC — part of the inclusive brand under which Emir Kusturica’s theatre and film festivals are also held in Drvengrad.


The Kustendorf CLASSIC Festival of Russian Music has been held in the village of Drvengrad (also known as Mečavnik), Serbia, under the directorship of film director Emir Kusturica, since 2013. Gazprom Neft has been the General Partner to the Festival since its inception. The main idea behind the Festival is to support talented young people from music schools and academies in Serbia, as well as talented young people from Russia.

Russia’s presence in the Kustendorf CLASSIC competition programme has, over the past four years, grown from seven participants to 25.

The competition has, this year, covered the whole of Russia, with the Selection Committee, headed by virtuoso pianist Yuri Rozum, selecting the 25 best musicians from 15 regions throughout the Russian Federation, who have been able to attend the Festival in Serbia thanks to the Gazprom Neft “Home Towns” corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme.

The Festival’s main awards are the Gold, Silver and Bronze Matryoshkas: and it is precisely this, the visualisation of the matryoshka — composed of musical signs and notes — that provides the visual icon and concept of the Kustendorf CLASSIC, reflecting the cohesive cultural values of two Slavic peoples — Russia and Serbia.

It’s interesting to note that the Matryoshkas are made in Ekaterinburg, home to the master craftsmen of the Urals and the “Mistress of the Copper Mountain” (the mythological heroine of many Russian folk tales), where the traditional trade is the production of souvenirs made from stone and metal.

Drvengrad stands some 1,600 metres above sea level in the hills of Zlatibor (in the Mokra Gora national park), Serbia, and represents a unique architectural initiative on the part of Emir Kusturica, having been built near the narrow-gauge railway that once united Belgrade with Dubrovnik for scenes in his film “Life is a Miracle”. All streets and buildings have been given special names celebrating famous people: Novak Djokavic Street, Maradona Street, the Stanley Kurbrick cinema building, Nikita Mikhalkov Square, the House of Dostoevsky, and so on.

The cobblestone streets, clapperboard cottages and tiny chapel all give Drvengrad its genuinely unique atmosphere which, for the duration of the Kustendorf CLASSIC Festival, is harmoniously complemented by the sounds of open-air classical music concerts.