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The Golden Matryoshkas from this year’s Kustendorf CLASSIC Festival are on their way to Samara and Eastern Sarajevo

15 July 2019
The Golden Matryoshkas from this year’s Kustendorf CLASSIC Festival are on their way to Samara and Eastern Sarajevo

The VII Kustendorf CLASSIC Festival of Russian Music, organised by Serbian film director Emir Kusturica together with Gazprom Neft, came to a close in Mecavnik (Serbia) on 12 July, with students from music schools and academies throughout Russia, Serbia and Belarus taking to the stage to compete in their mastery of Russian classic music over the course of three days.

The Festival’s main prize — the Golden Matryoshka, for the younger 13 to 17 age group, was won by Valery Makarov from Samara, with the Silver Matryoshka won by Alexandr Tyan from St Petersburg, and the Bronze going to Miroslav Batalyonk from Minsk.

The best of the participants in the 17–25 age group proved to be Mikhailo Zhivoinovic, from Eastern Sarajevo. The Silver Matryoshka was awarded to Anastasia Mikhnovets from Minsk, with Anna Savkina, from Moscow, taking the Bronze.

Classical music stars performing at the Kustendorf CLASSIC-2019 Evening Concerts included conductor and violinist Yuri Bashmet, with the Mariinsky Theatre’s outstanding baritone, Vasily Gerello, performing traditional Russian lyrical romance and Neapolitan songs.

Sharing his views, Yuri Bashmet commented: “I’d heard many enthusiastic reviews of the Festival, and dreamed of taking part. By a stroke of good luck I had such an opportunity this year, and I have to say — I liked both the Festival location, and its atmosphere, very much. I’d call it a mini paradise for musicians. Music is playing everywhere, with very young musicians playing Shubert, Chopin and Liszt, as well as their own compositions. Everyone’s warm and friendly. That’s particularly important for young people. The poet Sergei Mikhailkov once said ‘Today’s children are tomorrow’s nation.’ If we show children a world of creativity, music and humanity now, we can hope that they’ll grow up to be genuinely talented and good, kind people.”

In keeping with tradition, famous maestros not only delighted the public with their performances, but also passed on their experience to musicians just starting out, with masterclasses for Festival participants being held by famous pianists Yuri Rozum and Oleg Weinstein as well as popular Serbian actor Miloš Biković.

The Festival closed with a big Gala Concert from international classical music stars including cellist and People’s Artist of Armenia, Narek Akhnazaryan, Mariinsky baritone Efim Zavalny, and founder of the cross-over Almazian Symphony Orchestra, violinist Khachatur Almazian.

Ekaterina Dulova, Rector of the Belarusian State Academy of Music and Chair of the Kustendorf CLASSIC Festival Jury, commented: “A fantastic Festival, of great importance both for young musicians, and us, their teachers! We are very familiar with Moscow’s and St Petersburg’s music schools, but here we have kids performing from different (sometimes the most remote) corners of Russia — Omsk, Khanty-Mansiysk, Tyumen, Tomsk — showing us the talent scattered right across the country! I’m also delighted that Belarus was represented at the Festival for the first time this year, together with Serbia and Russia. Our musical culture has much in common, but festivals like the Kustendorf CLASSIC always offer the chance to see something new, something we’ve not come across before.”