The Musical Hermitage
Even amongst the Northern Capital's most prestigious events our winter and summer music festivals stand out as being special, firstly because of their location - performances take place in the distinguished theatre and the unique rooms and halls of a former imperial palace - and secondly because the music festivals of the Hermitage are concerts, each one a performance - perhaps even a mystery-play - which taken together trace a distinct path with an underlying historical theme.
In that respect The Musical Hermitage - our winter festival - has grown out of the musical traditions of the imperial household. It lets us hear masterpieces from different epochs, in various styles, from many countries and presented by the best musicians, turning an evening visit to the Hermitage into an aesthetic delight, surrounded by harmony and the beauty of a combination of exquisite interiors, sculptures, paintings and sounds.
In 2004, the tenth anniversary of the award to the St Petersburg Camerata ensemble of the status of the Orchestra of the State Hermitage was celebrated by the International Festival 1000 and One Concert. in which the orchestra - along with friends and partners from Sweden, Switzerland, Great Britain, France, Austria and Japan - took part.
In the winter of 2005 our second international festival The Musical Hermitage was performed, and with it came the appearance of a new musical tradition - a festive week of music which turns the Hermitage Museum into the Musical Hermitage.
Among the various classical programmes of the 2005 winter festival there was even a jazz gig in which members of the orchestra took part.
The third festival in February 2006 was called Mozart XXI and celebrated the 250th anniversary of the birth of the great Austrian composer.
Music of the Greater Hermitage
The founding of our international summer festival Music of the Greater Hermitage marked a very special occasion. On June 26th 2001, for the first time after almost one hundred years of oblivion, the gates of the Great Courtyard - decorated by a two-headed eagle, the symbol of the Russian state - were opened to members of the public invited to the premier of the oratorio The Seven Gates of Jerusalem, a piece by one of our greatest contemporary composers Krzysztof Penderecki.
It was a classical music performance of a new scale for the Northern Capital, featuring a specially-built stage accommodating more than 350 musicians from six countries. More than four thousand spectators were there to witness an outstanding event in the musical history of St Petersburg - the opening of a concert hall under the open sky, unique in its beauty and acoustics.
In summer 2002 the Festival took place in the rooms of the Hermitage. For the first time, evening concerts - including one named Vivat Hermitage - were organised in the Grand Throne (St. George) Hall, the main gala hall in the palace.
In 2003 the sounds of Italian music filled the courtyard, and the audience was introduced to a stylised North Venetian Carnival with the participation of two world famous opera divas, Lyubov Kazarnovskaya and Kati Ricciarelli.
In 2004 the festival featured the 18th century opera Armida e Rinaldo by Giuseppe Sarti and the most romantic masterpiece of the 19th century Symphonie Fantastique by Hector Berlioz. In a musical-theatre performance entitled An Episode from an Actor's Life, a lyric score based on Nikolai Gogol's work was read by the famous Russian actor Sergey Makovetzkii and the musical mystery show The Tree of Life - a compilation of music and poems by composers and poets of the 20th century - was performed by the actor, poet and musician Jurii Shevchuk and the cinema and theatre star Dina Korsun.
The jubilee 5th international festival in 2005 featured the Orchestra of the State Hermitage in a Tchaikovsky Gala programme conducted by Saulius Sondeckis, along with the chamber orchestra Virtuosi of Moscow and the unique trumpeter Sergey Nakaryakov. The culmination of the Festival was a performance of Berlioz' Requiem by the Orchestra and Chorus of the Mariinsky Theatre together with the State Hermitage Orchestra, under the direction of maestro Valery Gergiev.