A Tribute to Shostakovich

Valery Gergiev together with the world's leading
symphony orchestras and the Mariinsky Theatre have concluded
the largest music project in the year of Shostakovich,
comparable in scale only with the year of Mozart in Austria
and the Salzburg Festival programme honouring Mozart.

The project's closing concerts with the Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra took place in early December at London's Barbican Hall, and on 25 December the orchestra gave its final performance under Valery Gergiev at the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire.

The programme marking one century since the birth of Dmitry Shostakovich included two immense series conceived by Valery Gergiev – Shostakovich Symphonies and Shostakovich on Stage – and performed in St Petersburg, throughout Russia and many other countries across the globe, with performances in the world's capitals by the Mariinsky Theatre and other renowned symphony orchestras including the Wiener Philharmoniker, the London Symphony and the Rotterdam Philharmonic.

The symphony project saw the performance of all fifteen symphonies by the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra and other leading symphony orchestras, several of which are all but unknown to the general public. This underlines the important enlightenment element of the project, as concert audiences included not just concert-goers but students from the Moscow and St Petersburg State Universities and the Universities of Michigan, San Francisco and Los Angeles (USA). Valery Gergiev opened the anniversary series in October 2005 when he conducted the Seventh and Eighth Symphonies with the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican Hall.

Between October 2005 and December 2006 there were almost eighty concerts and performances in the anniversary series and over forty in cities in Russia, the USA, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Austria, Belgium, the UK, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Poland, Ukraine, Finland, France, Switzerland and Sweden.

The Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra began the project in autumn 2005 in St Petersburg, continuing in November with a performance of four of Shostakovich's symphonies in Toulouse, France and in early January 2006 during the theatre's largest ever tour to Japan.

March saw the series continue at the USA's leading concert venues in New York, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. During the US tour the First, Second, Seventh, Ninth and Tenth Symphonies were performed. This unique music project received great public acclaim both in US university towns and audiences at the 3000 capacity Avery Fisher Hall at New York's Lincoln Center. The North American part of the Shostakovich Symphonies series came to a close in October 2006 with the orchestras triumphant performances in Berkley, Seattle, Vancouver, Ann Arbor, Newark, Washington, Greenvale and New York.

The UK section of the anniversary programme began during a tour in May 2006 – over four evenings Newcastle there were performances of the Fifth, Eighth, Tenth and and in Birmingham the Third and Tenth. In August during a tour to London's Albert Hall at the renowned Proms, the Thirteenth Symphony was performed along with the opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk in concert.

The Shostakovich century became the leitmotif of various festivals, of which Valery Gergiev is Artistic Director – the Moscow Easter Festival (23 April – 9 May 2006), the International Stars of the White Nights Festival (St Petersburg, 10 May – 19 July 2006) and the Mikkeli Music Festival, (Finland, 1–7 July). At the Stars of the White Nights all of the composer's symphonies were performed in addition to eleven concerts under such outstanding conductors as Christoph Eschenbach, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Paavo Järvi, Mariss Jansons and, of course, Valery Gergiev. The anniversary series was opened on 13 May by the composer's son Maxim Shostakovich. The London Symphony Orchestra, one of the finest orchestras in the world, also took part in the programme.

Anniversary concerts also took place in Spain – during its November tour the orchestra performed the First, Fifth and Fifteenth Symphonies. In late November the orchestra the theatre's orchestra and soloists as well as the chorus and orchestra of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia took part in the From Rome to St Petersburg music festival under Valery Gergiev, also marking one century since the birth of Shostakovich, with performances at Rome's famous Auditorium concert venue.

In addition to Shostakovich's symphonic legacy, under Valery Gergiev the theatre also performed the composer's works for theatre. The innovative opera The Nose by the twenty-two year-old Shostakovich is a genuine rarity in opera house playbills, and it created a sensation during the Mariinsky Theatre's extensive tour to Paris in November 2005 at the Opera Bastille. At the Stars of the White Nights as part of the Shostakovich on Stage series, in addition to the composer's operas and ballets, there were premieres of the operetta Moscow, Cheryomushki and the ballet The Golden Age. The unprecedented Shostakovich on Stage festival at London's Coliseum in July was also dedicated to the Shostakovich anniversary. The festival programme included the operas The Nose and Katerina Ismailova, the operetta Moscow, Cheryomushki and ballets. For the first time the British public had the opportunity to see such an extensive programme of the composer's works for theatre.

The Mariinsky Theatre has become not just the Theatre of Shostakovich, but the first Russian philharmonic to perform all of the great composer's symphonies.