It’s 1991. Valery Gergiev is in Birmingham to conduct a concert at the Town Hall. Just down the road, the finishing touches are being put to brand new concert hall – Symphony Hall – and during his stay he is persuaded to look around. The conductor recalls meeting with Symphony Hall’s acoustic consultant Russell Johnson in February 1991, more than two months before the venue’s official opening:
It was not finished when Russell showed it to me. I decided that my company [then known as the Kirov Opera] would be the first to bring opera there. We performed [Tchaikovsky’s Eugene] Onegin there in August 1991. I thought it was a great experience and I was very pleased with this hall. I’ve conducted there about 25 times since, including the Berlioz Requiem with the Mariinsky and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. I am very happy that we are coming back to be part of Symphony Hall’s twenty-first birthday celebrations.
Gergiev returns to Symphony Hall with the Mariinsky Opera on 6 April 2012 for a concert performance of Wagner’s Parsifal. The occasion marks the twenty-first anniversary of the venue’s relationship with Gergiev and the Mariinsky.
Read more of Andrew Stewart’s fascinating interview with the Russian maestro, about his musical influences and cultural life in Soviet Russia – click on the PDF in the top left hand corner of this page.
As Andrew points out in his write-up:
Anyone fortunate enough to secure a ticket for Gergiev’s Parsifal in Birmingham will have the chance to witness history in the making, the latest chapter in Russia’s long love affair with the music of Wagner.
Good Friday: Gergiev Conducts Parsifal is at Symphony Hall on Friday 6 April (4pm)