May 20th

Teodor Currentzis Supervises the Diafhilev Festival in Perm on June 10 – 20

The Festival programme features a collection of musical rarities ranging from Byzantine chants and baroque pieces to 20th-century avant-garde and ambient music, from symphony concerts to audiovisual performances. The lineup includes Peeping Tom (Belgium), musicAeterna (Russia), Ryoji Ikeda Studio (France, Japan), Nanine Linning (Netherlands), Vadim Kholodenko (Russia), Joonas Ahonen (Finland), and works by Desyatnikov, Mozart, Batagov, Beethoven, Currentzis, Nevsky, Crumb and others. The events will take place both in classical concert halls and in factory workshops. The Festival will be accompanied by a vast educational programme and a Festival Club.

The international Diaghilev Festival will take place from June 10 – 20, 2021 in Perm, Russia, where the famous impresario Sergei Diaghilev spent his childhood. Teodor Currentzis has been the director of the Festival since 2012. Every year, the forum presents the very latest musical trends and achievements in modern European theatre, drawing attention from thousands of experts and visitors both from Russia and Europe.

Following the pandemic-related restrictions, the Festival is set to return to its regular format this year. The opening concert – Leonid Desyatnikov’s vocal and symphonic soundscape “The Rite of Winter 1949” – will take place on June 10. Vast in its form yet holding a very personal message from the composer: a message hiding behind a sophisticated mask of references, allusions and metaphors following the rules of conceptualism, “The Rite of Winter 1949” is the only symphony in Desyatnikov’s repertoire. Conducted by Teodor Currentzis, the musicAeterna orchestra and choir will present their vision of one of the most significant musical scores of the late 20th century.

A collection of chamber music pieces by Leonid Desyatnikov, who celebrated his 65th birthday last year, will be presented at the Festival on June 17. Desyatnikov’s vocal music, as well as his sophisticated film and theatre soundtracks filled with clashing imagery, will be performed by pianist Alexey Goribol and musicAeterna soloists.

As one of the key platforms for creative research in modern theatre, the Diaghilev Festival is going to present several performance art projects. The prodigy of the new wave of European theatre and experimentally minded creator of its own language of plasticity, the Peeping Tom theatre company from Belgium will present “The missing door. The lost room” (June 18 and 19). This play represents a diptych in which physical, musical and drama theatre practices converge. An interdisciplinary performance art project by the Dutch choreographer Nanine Linning, the Double Helix project, will be performed on June 11, 12 and 13.  The project represents a deep philosophical programme staged in a modern, experimental form. Performed as a dance with video art elements, the project seeks to identify the boundary between human and artificial intelligence by focusing on the connection between the organic and the non-organic.

Sound, visual effects, physical phenomena, mathematical definitions, human behavior and randomness are all blended together in “superposition”, an audiovisual performance by the legendary Ryoji Ikeda Studio, a group of media artists from France (June 16 and 17). The project has never been presented in Russia before. The search for a new musical language and the study of mankind’s limitless abilities will be continued on June 19 with composer Nikolay Popov’s and curator Maxim Shostakovich’s audiovisual performance titled “NIKOLAY POPOV.//_DIFFUSIO.EXTENSIO”.

Though less stylistically radical, the Festival’s concert programme promises to be equally significant. The forum will witness the return of the pianists Anton Batagov (“Optical Illusion” electroacoustic performance) and Vadim Kholodenko (solo programme of avant-garde music); both musicians will perform on June 13. Joonas Ahonen, one of the leading performers in modern piano music, will make his Diaghilev Festival debut this year with an exquisite programme of rarely performed pieces, ranging from Beethoven’s “Variations” to the musical interpretation of Spider Man’s adventures (June 11). On June 12, all three pianists will share the stage in a piano-gala format.

As the Festival headliner, musicAeterna will present two programmes, which are the result of prolonged research and experimentation at the ensemble’s creative laboratory at Dom Radio in Saint Petersburg. Since autumn 2019, musicAeterna has been working on establishing a Centre for Culture and Education at Dom Radio with support from their general partner, VTB Bank.

MusicAeterna rehearsals and performances take place at an old mansion in the city centre. It is here that the orchestra and choir strive for optimal sound, young composers work on their new musical scores, and scientists and artists share their ideas with others. The best projects created over the last two years will be performed at the Diaghilev Festival. The mystery concert scheduled for June 15, will feature rarely performed pieces by baroque composers, 20th-century avant-garde musicians and modern artists. A challenge both to musicians and the audience, most musical works in the programme include unorthodox instrument lineups (ranging from mandolin to saw) as well as rare performance techniques. At the June 13 concert dedicated to avant-garde poet Paul Celan, musicAeterna will perform chamber music by modern composers in line with Celan’s poetry.

On June 12, two choirs — musicAeterna and musicAeterna byzantina, conducted by Teodor Currentzis and Antonios Koutroupis respectively — will present Byzantine chants as well as Russian and European sacred music, thereby creating a unique contrast to the industrial space of the Shpagin Factory.

On the final day of the Festival (June 20), the musicAeterna orchestra will play Mozart’s Maurerische Trauermusik and two of his last symphonies, No. 40 and No. 41 (“Jupiter”), which garnered success with the audience during this spring’s first post-pandemic tour in Russia and Spain. In line with the principles of historically informed performance, musicAeterna will play those pieces using gut strings and old wind instruments. In August, the concert will become part of the Salzburg Festival programme. The traditional Diaghilev Festival Party will conclude the forum.

The educational programme of the Diaghilev Festival will take place for the fifth time this year. The target group includes students at Russian art institutes. Aspiring pianists, symphony and choir conductors, choreographers, dancers, musicologists, producers and composers are welcome to attend master classes and lectures given by musicians and musicologists such as Alexey Parin, Irina Susidko, Pavel Lutzker, Anton Batagov, Teodor Currentzis, Antonios Koutroupis and Nanine Linning. The Women in Art programme will continue its work with the support of  Seyfeddin Rustamov, beneficiary owner of PJSC Metafrax. The programme focusses on providing jobs for women working in art-related areas. A dance laboratory will also be open to visitors.

The art space at the Shpagin Factory will be the main base for this year’s Festival Club, which unites performers, visitors and Perm residents. About 100 events are scheduled to take place between June 10 and 20. Amongst others, these include streaming and discussion of various events on the main programme, performances and creative workshops, retrospectives and book presentations. Special events are also planned for families and children.

During the Diaghilev Festival, the Perm Art Gallery will host the exhibition “Pillars of Russian Avant-Garde” – a joint project by the Festival, the GrossArt gallery and the Perm Art Gallery. The exhibition will feature the ironic, cartoon-like figures created by the well-known avant-garde artist Nikolay Vatagin, a comic strip by Georgiy Litichevsky, which tells the story of Russian avant-garde using monochromatic visuals, and contemplative works by kinetic artist Vyacheslav Koleichuk.

The full programme can be found on the official website of the Diaghilev Festival.

The 2021 Diaghilev Festival has been organized with support from the Perm Krai Ministry of Culture and the Department of Culture and Youth at the Perm City Administration, as well as charity support from Sberbank. The Festival’s official partners are LUKOIL Group member companies headquartered in Perm Krai.