Moscow’s latest trend? Classical music.
Do you want to be trendy in Moscow? Have you considered visiting a classical music concert yet? You have heard correctly. Moscow’s newest concert hall appears to have managed the seemingly unmanageable. Behind it all stands Olga Zhukova.
Moscow – 12.6 million residents in the city and 20 million within the metropolitan area. No wonder that Moscow is the largest mega-city in Europe. Nestled within its historic and cultural centre, directly next to the Kremlin, is Zaryadye Park. The 10 hectares large complex is the only recreation area within the Boulevard Ring. Its construction began in the year 2012, when the city aimed at designing “a place for dialogue about the history and natural heritage of Russia, science, art, the future of Moscow and the country as a whole. The park is an island of peace and quiet, created for its visitors to be able to spend time in nature within the centre of a megapolis (www.zarydayepark.ru).” Zaryadye Concert Hall is its latest addendum.
The state-of-the-art multipurpose concert complex opened its doors on 8 September 2018. Six floors (two of them below the ground), twelve artistic rooms and modern transforming mechanisms offer cultural producers more than enough space to implement their artistic vision. The Grand Hall can host up to 1600 visitors. It is complemented by Zaryadye’s Small Hall, hosting educational events, chamber concerts, theatre plays and experimental projects for up to 400 spectators. The striking building was recently awarded the Special Jury Award at the architecture exhibition MIPIM in Cannes.
“Everything is important, even the smallest architectural detail, a fragment of a rehearsal, and each and every genre,” says Olga Zhukova, Zaryadye’s Concert Hall Manager and self-proclaimed perfectionist. In our conversation, she shares how her personal path led her to Zaryadye, how the organisation supports listeners in finding a gateway into classical music, and that the Concert Hall’s own record label ‘Zaryadye’ will be launched soon.
Let’s begin with the basics. What does Zaryadye mean?
Olga Zhukova: “We are located in Zarydaye Park in the heart of Moscow. The Kremlin Palace, Moscow River and the Archaeology Museum are our direct neighbours. The etymology of the place’s name, Zaryadye, is “za ryadami”, “behind” and “rows”. What now is a park, used to be a haven for merchant vessels in the 16th century. We like to believe that this haven still exists, but today it’s for culture, not for ships.”
How did you become the director of Zaryadye?
“Let me put it this way: Looking back today, I realise that I’ve been preparing myself for the position of the nation’s best concert hall manager my whole life. Maybe it’s my mission. Over the years, I have managed numerous projects such as the XIVth and the XVth International Tchaikovsky Competition, the International Grand Piano Competition and an international festival called ’Zapomni etot mig’ (’Remember This Moment’). Before this, I worked for the Ministry of Culture. If you love what you do and you believe in what you do, things unfold naturally.”
What is Zaryadye’s mission?
“Education is the mission of each and every modern concert hall that presents classical music. We work hard to attract young audiences. When we define the programme, we bear them in mind. For unexperienced listeners a year’s repertoire should work like this: First, you visit a concert of popular classics. In a next step, you hopefully fall for something like baroque. Finally, you get interested in contemporary music. Educational concert lectures are our special genre, designed for this very purpose. We hope to support you in finding your gateway into classical music. In parallel, we try to accustom children to listening to classical music, and to find out how to motivate them to attend concerts. Luckily our efforts seem to be working – I see more and more beautiful young faces in the audience.”
Could you please explain three aspects adding to the sound experience?
“Yasuhisa Toyota is the head of Nagata Acoustics, the famous acoustics experts behind the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, the Performing Arts Center in New York, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, just to name a few. We were very happy when he agreed to also dedicate himself to our Grand and Small Halls. Toyota covered both of them with special acoustic panels made out of mahogany wood. The stage consists of cedar wood, which provides the necessary reverberation.
Summer of 2018 saw the beginning of our organ installation. The instrument was created by the French company Muhleisen in Strasbourg. With its number of registers, it is the largest in the Russian capital. Its tuning should be completed in September 2019. I can’t wait to offer our audience the opportunity to hear the first sounds of the ’king of instruments’.
Lastly, I’d like to mention that we are lucky enough to have our own recording studio. Our record label ‘Zaryadye’ will be presented soon so that we can share the music created here with listeners all over the world.”
How do you see Zaryadye’s position in the global cultural landscape?
“Despite the fact that the venue is less than a year old and our first season is about to end, we were able to present international stars to our Russian audience. We already have a fantastic collection of audio and video files with feedback from artists such as Placido Domingo, Anna Netrebko, Elīna Garanča, Bobby McFerrin, and Joshua Bell. Word of mouth spreads rapidly in our international community. After having stood on our stage, the artists travel back home and tell their colleagues about the venue. Every artist and collaborator is a potential advocate, who we try to win over.”
How will you ensure the future success of Zaryadye?
“Everything is important, even the smallest architectural detail, a fragment of a rehearsal, and each and every genre, but the face of a venue is its repertoire. We need to have a well-formulated concert plan, bringing the best international and Russian artists as well as world premieres to Moscow. Acoustics are an integral part of a venue’s success and recognition, which is why we invested heavily into this. Our contemporary urban architecture and location will help us, too.
However, the team is crucial. Everybody should have a deep understanding of the business they devote their lives to. All of us treat the Hall as our own brainchild. We are here to organise unforgettable concerts. And it is during these concerts, while listening to the beautiful music, that I understand what I work for.”
How will Zaryadye Park and Concert Hall impact the changing urban landscape of Moscow?
“Every day I have the chance to observe pedestrians strolling through the park. They are not only tourists attracted by the city centre; Moscovites walk here, too. I see them spending time with their children or parents. It’s just trendy! The same accounts for the Hall. To begin with, people were only stopping by to have a look at the new building, the “unique architectural design” they had heard of. I feel confident to say that now we have won our audience over. It has become trendy to spend a night at a concert, and that’s really great. You just can’t help falling in love with classical music, after you have heard it performed by a superb musician at a beautiful venue!”
About Zaryadye Moscow Concert Hall and Julius Baer
Julius Baer is the General Partner of the Zaryadye Moscow Concert Hall. This sponsorship underpins Julius Baer’s commitment to Russia and stands in line with Julius Baer’s partnerships with a number of significant cultural institutions all over the globe.
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