Maestro Valery Gergiev (1953- ), Director of the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra and well-known international art music figure
Thorough the gifts and charisma of Maestro Valery Gergiev, The World Orchestra for Peace continues to bring hope that we can find genuine understanding and harmony, not only in music…
“Of course, we can’t make peace all at once. However, we can show the world that people of different cultures can work together”. These words of the famous Russian maestro Valery Gergiev prefaced his performance on 5 August at the famous London festival of classical music, the BBC Promenade Concerts (BBC Proms), as the chief conductor of the World Orchestra for Peace. On the eve of the concert, this unique group, consisting of 90 performers, representing 47 of the best orchestras in the world, was awarded the honorary title of UNESCO Artists for Peace. Gergiev himself has held the title since 2003.
“Artists for Peace” is the motto of the organisation according to its founder, British maestro Sir George Solti. The concert in honour of the 50th anniversary of the UN under his baton in 1995 was, unfortunately, the only one [under his direction]. Sir George died shortly thereafter, but his idealistic belief in the special mission of this international ensemble was remarkably resilient. The Peace Orchestra musicians played complex scores with almost no rehearsal, demonstrating miracles in understanding the music. In large part, this was due to the talent of Maestro Gergiev, who took the orchestra after the death of Solti. Then, critics unanimously declared that only Gergiev, with his charisma, could so brilliantly continue this project.
Meanwhile, Valery Abisalovich, despite his worldwide fame and adoration, very modestly spoke of himself. “I never thought that I would be a leader as a way of life, I never thought that I would be a conductor, I never thought that I would lead a large orchestra. However, I was involved in music. Once it arises, a love for classical music doesn’t diminish. It’s an incurable disease, and I am a willing sufferer. What’s a conductor? Of course, he’s a musician, but he’s a man who every day, every morning and evening, and in every rehearsal and in every concert, who directs, above all, a group of people. I’ve always relied on very sincere human relations, proceeding from the fact that I treat my close working colleagues as my friends”, Maestro Gergiev said.
Perhaps this simple principle allows the Russian conductor to overcome the difficulties that arise in working with musicians from different traditions. “An oboist from Vienna and a trombonist from America will have very different ideas about style, intonation, and even how to breathe. However, the great pleasure of working with such a challenging group consists precisely in how quickly different musicians of different performing schools can find common ground and achieve a harmonious sound”, he said.
For Maestro Gergiev, a reminder about the need for peace and harmony in these days of August is particularly relevant. Two years ago, just days after Russian troops stopped the armed invasion of South Ossetia by Georgia, Maestro Gergiev with the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra arrived in the destroyed Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali, and gave an open-air concert in memory of the victims of the Georgian aggression. Moreover, the music and words he chose called us to reason, compassion, and humanism. Incidentally, the World Orchestra for Peace is not the only international ensemble that has worked with Maestro Gergiev. For example, he directed the World Youth Orchestra in a concert given in Moscow on Red Square. In addition, in recent years, he has spent his creative life on different stages throughout the world, with different musical ensembles, performing music by composers of all epochs and all nations. That is not very different from his work with the World Peace Orchestra; it’s the same thing, really; it’s a huge non-stop international project.
5 August 2010
Voice of Russia World Service