Yekaterinburg’s rich cultural scene has long been evident in the diverse activities of the Ural Philharmonic Orchestra and the Sverdlovsk Philharmonic and will soon become even more apparent with the construction of a new building.
The planning phase of Yekaterinburg’s new concert hall was accompanied by a symposium organized by karsten witt musik management, which featured, among others, Christoph Lieben-Seutter and Matthias Naske, in a panel discussion moderated by Karsten Witt and Per Erik Veng, where they discussed the demands and prospects raised by the building’s construction.
Heavy machinery is heading to Yekaterinburg: the new concert hall complex of the Sverdlovsk Philharmonic, home of the Ural Philharmonic Orchestra, the Ural Youth Symphony Orchestra, and the Yekaterinburg Philharmonic Choir, will be completed in 2023 with a design by the London office of the late renowned architect Zaha Hadid, who passed away in 2016. The plans integrate the Philharmonic’s historic building, including its concert and chamber halls, enlarging it with an impressive structure featuring a new concert hall that accommodates 1,600 listeners and a multifunctional hall of 350 seats.
The new complex aims to become one of the finest concert halls in Russia, both acoustically and architecturally – and, with the help of a clever spatial infrastructure, to better achieve its social and cultural mission of promoting humanistic values through educational programmes, international collaboration, and multicultural youth programmes, by providing a cultural platform for diverse audiences of all ages and social backgrounds. In Yekaterinburg this is no mere lip service but already common practice. For example, music-loving residents of the Sverdlovsk Oblast have been taking part in concerts free of charge via live video transmissions at cultural centres and libraries in the region for years. Such activities are made possible by an impressive network that the Philharmonic has developed: its circle of supporters comprises 24,000 members.
The Ural Philharmonic Orchestra has long been breaking new ground in the cultural landscape, even before the imminent construction work in Yekaterinburg was planned. At the centre of this development is Dmitry Liss, who celebrates his 25th anniversary as principal conductor in 2020. Under his leadership, the UPO has grown into a first-rate orchestra, whose international network is reflected not only in its lively tours but also in its ever-evolving partnerships. The orchestra, for example, has long been a regular participant in the Folle Journée festival in Nantes and has been invited to guest at the festival’s international editions in Tokyo and elsewhere. Meanwhile, the Sverdlovsk Philharmonic have established their own edition of the Folle Journée in Yekaterinburg, featuring prominent invitees.
And this year, the Eurasia Festival will showcase its international appeal for the fifth time. The festival kicks off with the Russian premiere of Hans Werner Henze’s Das Floß der Medusa (The Raft of the Medusa); and, beginning in late November, a series of unique concerts will be given by outstanding musicians such as Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Julia Lezhneva, the GrauSchumacher Piano Duo, and Mikhail Pletnev with the Russian National Orchestra. The zeal with which the Sverdlovsk Philharmonic places itself on the map as an internationally renowned concert centre is particularly impressive given that, until 1991, Yekaterinburg numbered among the so-called ‘closed cities’. It’s unlikely that visitors to the new Sverdlovsk Philharmonic Hall will be able to imagine that, not so long ago, the city’s rich cultural life remained virtually unknown to those beyond the metropolis.
Nina Rohlfs, 12/2018
translation: Kathleen Heil