Spring 2011 - The Educational Bridge Project's 19th annual Russian-American festival opened in St. Petersburg on May 18th highlighted by a celebration of the 100th birthday of world-famous violinist and Boston University Professor Roman Totenberg with performances of the music of Milhaud, Bernstein, Szymanowski, and Penderecki by young St. Petersburg violinists David Chakvetadze, Aleksandra Korobkina, Anastasia Subrakova and Igor Zolotarev, as well as the centennial observance of the birth of St. Petersburg’s renowned pianist and pedagogue Ella Elinson with performances by Russian pianist Igor Uryash,  of Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition,” a cornerstone in Ella Elinson’s repertoire.


Professor Claudio Veliz, a former participant of the Educational Bridge Project's festival and founder of the Conversazion, a unique forum for discussions with “no predetermined course or conclusions,” spoke on topics of Russian writers Gorkiy and Tolstoy included in the 48 years of the history of the Conversazioni.


Boston University Graphic Design professor, Safoura Rafeizadeh, and two of her graduate students, Stephanie Horst and Melissa Levanti, participated in the Eco-Design Conference, “Woods and Parks,” at the St. Petersburg State Polytechnical University, as well as showed their works at Baltic State Technical University, Herzen State Pedagogical University, and St. Petersburg State University, continuing a long-standing association maintained by professors Tatiana Kholostova and Galina Sorokina.


Leon Gruenbaum, New York based musician and inventor of the electronic musical instrument, “Samchillian,” participated in a concert of electronic music at the St. Petersburg Composers’ Association and demonstrated his invention at the St. Petersburg Conservatory.  In Moscow Leon Gruenbaum met with the Director of the Theremin Center of Electroacoustic music at Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory Andrei Smirnov and played together with Russian students at Moscow University of Arts and Culture.  Leon’s hosts, Moscow jazz historian, Zinaida Kartasheva, and St. Petersburg composer Anton Tanonov had been participants in previous EBP festivals in Boston. 


Several festival events were held in commemoration of the Soviet Union’s entry into the Second World War. Vivian Doskow, a graduate of Boston University, spoke to young audiences of the Frunzensky District libraries on the history of the Warsaw Ghetto, its tragedy and its heroes.  Several school children presented talks on Pushkin, a children’s choir sang music written on Pushkin’s poetry and Ludmilla Leibman gave a talk on “Eugene Onegin” and “Boris Gudunov.Russian singer, Marina Tsejtlina, accompanied the talks organized by District officials, Delaida Glebovskaya, Olga Galitskaya, Olga Sidorova, and Yulia Kushenko, all of whom visited Boston for EBP festivals in years past.  Bret Werb, musicologist at Washington’s Holocaust Museum, spoke on, The Genesis and Fate of “We Will Never Die,” the large-scale touring propaganda “pageant” created in 1943 by Hollywood screenwriter Ben Hecht, Broadway composer Kurt Weill, and Zionist activist Peter Bergson.  His talk took place at the St. Petersburg Institute of Arts Research, and was hosted by Galina Kopytova, Chief Curator of the Manuscript Library of the Institute, who lectured at Boston University in 2004.   


Young Israeli composer Matti Kovler, doctoral student at the New England Conservatory, who spoke  on “ New Jewish music: from avant-garde to tradition” shared his thoughts on music with students and faculty of the composition departments of the St. Petersburg Conservatory. His hosts included Russian composers Alexander Radvilovich, Anton Tanonov, Ekaterina Blinova, Svetlana Nesterova and Nikolay Mazhara, all of whom had participated in EBP’s Boston festival ten years ago. Concerts of Matti Kovlers’ music were organized by Elizaveta Bukhanova in the Moscow Glinka Museum of Musical Insturments and Shaliapin Museum.


After hours, American and Russian musicians performed at traditional Musical Evenings, at the residency of the US Consul General in St. Petersburg, in the famous St. Petersburg Salon Irida hosted by the Chaplygin family, and at the art studio of Luba Kostenko whose exhibit in Boston last fall attracted enthusiastic attention from local artists and collectors.  Well-known St. Petersburg soprano Maria Lyudko, gave a talk on Russian songs and beautifully performed them, accompanying herself on the piano.  American guests enjoyed visiting the Great Philharmonic Hall to hear several concerts of the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, attended a performance of Khachaturian’s ballet “Spartacus” and applauded Monteverdi’s “Orfeo” at the St Petersburg Hermitage Museum’s Theatre and Rimsky Korsakov “the Tsar’s Bride” at the Mariinsky Theater. The boat tour of the Neva River at dusk, now a staple for the Americans visiting St Petersburg, dazzled with its imposing and sparkling views of the city. Final good-byes were celebrated at a goodbye dinner at “Teplo,” where toasts were raised to new friendships and the renewal of old friendships.