Russia and Malta – half a century together
The White Hall of Vernadsky Geological Museum hosted a concert dedicated to the 50th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and Malta.
It was arranged by the European Foundation for Support of Culture and the Maltese Philharmonic orchestra with assistance extended by the Embassy of Malta in Russia.
Interestingly, the concert was held on 7 November — the centenary of the October 1917 revolution — a landmark date for the country not to be found on the world map any more.
It is interesting since diplomatic relations with Malta were established by the USSR in the already — distant-from-us 1967 — only three years after Malta gained independence from the UK.
Dr Carmel Brincat, the Ambassador of the Republic of Malta to the Russian Federation, made a welcoming speech. He congratulated the attendees on the milestone event and emphasized the role culture plays in promoting good relations between our two countries. The concert featured a combined orchestra from among the musicians of the Malta Philharmonic orchestra, the Moscow Conservatoire and the Stanislavsky Musical Theatre. With Felix Korobov, the Stanislavsky Theatre’s principal conductor at the conductor’s stand, the soloist was Carmine Lauri, the famed Maltese violinist.
The Malta Philharmonic orchestra’s history dates back to 1968 when the Manoel Theater’s symphony orchestra was formed from among the musicians of the British Mediterranean Fleet orchestra. Gaining a national orchestra status in 1997, it was named a philharmonic one in 2008. The only professional orchestra in the island republic, it gives concerts, participates in government events, and performs in opera and ballet productions of the island country’s theatres. Since 2001, the orchestra has extensively toured across the world visiting China, Italy, Germany, Austria and Belgium. It performs with world-renowned soloists, records CDs that feature, among other, masterpieces by Maltese composers whose school — virtually unknown in Russia — has made impressive progress lately.
Carmine Lauri started to learn violin playing in his home country and from the age of 17 continued in London. One of the leading soloists of the London Symphony orchestra, Lauri — with the UK capital as his ‘homeport’ — has performed with numerous leading orchestras of the world and got high awards in Malta and the UK.
The programme featured pieces by Maltese and Russian composers as well as the renowned violin masterpieces by Kreisler and Wieniawski. Of special interest were, undoubtedly, new-to-the Russian ear Maltese Rhapsody by Joseph Vella and Religious Andante by Charles Camilleri.
The former Maltese opus turned out to be a frolicking miniature, sometimes a waltz, sometimes a scherzo — filled with intricate modulations in tone which, at the same time sounded fairly melodious in the dynamic dance piece. A miniature of the salon type, it set a festive tone for the entire evening. The latter Maltese masterpiece proved to be an absolute contrast to the former — it produced an impression of a chant resounding in a temple, for its meditative and melodious nature revealed the contemplativeness and philosophical depths of the Maltese soul.
In the Maltese and Russian compositions as well as the virtuoso tricks by Kreisler and Wieniawski, Carmine Lauri demonstrated that he was a top-notch instrumentalist with an expressive manner, virtuoso technique, a soft and beautiful sound.
The programme included Russian music for large ensembles: the Nocturne from Borodin’s Chamber Symphony, Scherzo-Waltz, Elegy and Waltz from Serenade for String Orchestra, the finale of Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence. The musicians from different orchestras and, in fact, with differing musical traditions pleasantly surprised the audience by their cohesion making the opuses sound vividly and expressively, enchanting the audience with their light and at the same time ‘juicy’ sound.
Tchaikovsky’s Waltz-Scherzo even managed without the conductor: Lauri — occasionally waving his fiddlestick like in the days of old — conducted the orchestra …and it came naturally to him.
2017 witnessed numerous cultural events in Russia dedicated, like this concert, to the diplomatic relations anniversary. Additionally, a number of consulates have been or are about to be opened in Russia — Malta is increasing its presence in our country — and not only in its European part, but beyond the Ural mountains as well. Valletta has been awarded the title of the European Capital of Culture 2018 — and this will further advance the expanding cultural contacts with our country.
Dr. Carmel Brincat
Ambassador of the Republic of Malta to the Russian Federation
— Ambassador, we are celebrating a landmark anniversary — 50 years of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Malta and Russia. There must have been some other high-profile events to mark the jubilee. Is that right?
— Yes, certainly. 2017 has been a very eventful year. Malta chaired the European Union from January to June, so many political and cultural events that can hardly be overestimated occurred during the period.
In July, for example, we welcomed the Bolshoi Theatre soloists who brought Crystal Palace — an extravaganza multi-genre production — a blend of ballet, opera and drama. In October Malta hosted the Russian Film Week, a number of exhibitions as well as cultural and academic events. This concert in Moscow continues an excellent cultural dialogue between our two countries and is still another contribution to our mutual cultural enrichment. Over the three years of my ambassadorship, a lot has been done to promote bi-lateral relations between our countries.
We have opened a number of Honorary Consulates across Russia — in Novgorod and Nizhny Novgorod, soon to be followed by ones in Kazan, Chelyabinsk, Yekaterinburg and at Lake Baikal. So, we are increasing our presence in Russia; and not only in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg, but in other regions of the country, including the eastern ones. We aim to advance and improve the relations between our two countries in all areas. But we strive not just to improve the political climate but we also use our ‘soft power’ in culture, tourism, education and medicine. We want to see progress in all these fields.
— However, one gets an impression that the focus is intentionally on music. Is that right?
— Music knows no boundaries and that’s the reason. Music unites peoples. What can be more beautiful and comprehensible than music? Russia boasts a wealth of cultural heritage, especially in classical music. But Malta also has something to show for its 5,000-year-long history. Our relations have lasted longer than half a century as they started in the times of Catherine the Great, if not earlier.
— How has the cooling down in the relations between Russia and the EU affected the cultural collaboration?
— Unfortunately, Russia has issues not only in its relations with Malta, but the entire EU. However, we continue our efforts to improve our relations. Russia is a most important partner for us — and it will always be the case, there is no escaping it.
We hold differing views on many issues, but we also have a lot in common. By contrast, our relations in the cultural sphere are expanding; they are rapidly advancing and strengthening. I believe that culture will bring us closer and save us.
Igor Victorovich Onokov
Honorary consul of Malta in Saint Petersburg
— We are celebrating the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Russia and Malta. What is the significance of establishing, maintaining and promoting diplomatic relations between our two countries, in your opinion?
— The world is going through very challenging times now. Our two countries, like two poles — the largest and one of the smallest — understand each other. And this is a good example for all other countries: it is possible and necessary to search for and find more commonalities than focus on the distinctions that everyone certainly has.
— What cultural events (especially, those in music, perhaps) help strengthen ties between countries?
— Culture is information. And when we share information, it stays with its owner and other people come to have it. So, it enriches us all. And music is a language everyone can understand; and if we reciprocally like each other’s music, then we can say the fact proves that we have a lot in common. Music permeates the entire society and different cultures and inside each individual culture — people at very different levels.
— What are your impressions of the Moscow concert held on 7 November and the rendition by the joint Russian- Maltese orchestra?
— Everything was excellent — the concert, the venue and the date: 7 November with a view of the Kremlin! The music united everyone, everyone listened and appreciated it and the people also realised that they could understand each other even if they spoke only their mother tongue.
— You listened to the music by the contemporary Maltese composers at the concert. Did it leave any trace in your soul?
— Oh, yes, it did, and not for the first time. When we give a reception on the occasion of the Independence Day of the Republic of Malta, we always use the Maltese composers’ music as an excellent unifying background.
Principal conductor, Stanislavsky Musical
— You have conducted today the unified orchestra of Russian and Maltese musicians. Do you think that the Maltese part was under-represented?
— It was a beautiful idea to create an orchestra composed of musicians from the two countries in the run up to the 50th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between Russia and Malta. In fact, there was practically an equal number of the Maltese and the Russian musicians. Any festivity implies communication, you share feelings and emotions. These have been three wonderful days of coming to know each other better. The programme was deigned so as to present the Maltese composers and it was of great interest for me to get the feel of music just written and absolutely new compositions. It is especially important since one can hear but very little Maltese music in Moscow.
— The Russian violin school is a renowned brand. Are the Maltese musicians on a par with your level?
— There’ve been no problems — the Maltese instrumentalists’ level is really high. For example, the finale in Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence is a most complicated ensemble and the rendition was phenomenal from a technical point of view. I am very pleased with the Maltese musicians’ level and technique as well as their attitude. Some of them studied in Europe, some — in Malta only, but their professionalism is commendable.
— Is it your first encounter with the Maltese music?
— Yes, it is. And I am very happy about it. I think it’s a big mistake that the talented Maltese authors are still so little known in Russia — and this mistake should be corrected.
Violin player, soloist
— It is not your first time in this country, is it?
— It is my fifth visit to Russia: I played three times in Moscow and twice in Saint Petersburg. I performed with Valery Gergiev on several occasions, and I have wonderful memories of those events. I even managed to play with the great Mstislav Rostropovich, and this fills me with pride and happiness.
— Has this concert become a special one for you?
— It was an unspeakable pleasure to come here and play with my kin, so to say, — the Maltese musicians and new-found friends — colleagues from Russia. The date is remarkable — it is a big holiday and a great honour for me. Music knows no boundaries — music is a lingua franca, it can tell you about everything, that’s why it truly brings people closer together.
— Does Russian music mean anything for you?
— Yes, of course, it does. How can one but love Tchaikovsky or Borodin? Russian music is a treasure. Music is in the Russians’ blood and it resonates greatly in my heart. I listened to Tchaikovsky’s music through my entire flight from London to Moscow and couldn’t have enough.
— Lately, we have been hearing the Maltese composers’ pieces more often in Moscow.
— I play a lot of music written by the Maltese composers, both as a soloist and as the first violin at the London Symphony Orchestra. Malta has many young and interesting composers today and we see impressive progress in this field. Joseph Vella’s Maltese Rhapsody we started our concert with is a true and very sincere tribute to the Maltese folklore of all times. I can also name Charles Camilleri, Carmelo Pace and Joseph Vella — the leaders of contemporary Maltese music.
First cello, Stanislavsky Musical Theatre Moscow orchestra
— It is not my first time with a multi-national orchestra — I have played with Spanish, Polish, American and even Indian musicians. It is an exciting and useful co-creative effort, in my opinion. Yes, music is a common language, but everybody speaks it in a slightly different way, for the schools, traditions and mentalities influence it.
For example, India, where I went a few years ago has no higher schools for music; all musicians in the orchestra are amateurs — doctors, attorneys, drivers, businessmen, etc. And this is the only orchestra in Mumbai — the largest city in the country. All of them are self-taught and united by desire to play music.
So, they rehearse in the morning and then go to their work places. Some of them don’t even know where each note is located on the instrument. As for the string instrument players of the Maltese orchestra who we performed with — they are professional musicians of a world-class orchestra. Here, you could relax while you played and enjoy a joint music performance.
Performing in a joint orchestra is of great interest to me. If I had my way, I would make it a regular practice. First of all, when you work in one place for a long time, you fall into a routine sooner or later and start getting tired. And new people bring new breath, experience, incentives and ideas. All of us perceive music in slightly different ways and we had different training, so it is always interesting to get a glimpse of how people interpret one and the same material.
Double bass, Bolshoi Theatre orchestra
— The concert by the Malta Chamber orchestra was a true gift to the pubic and the musicians alike. Joint projects of creative teams from different countries are an old and heart-warming tradition in the performing arts world. Participation of Carmine Lauri, soloist at the London Symphony orchestra, became an event in its own right. His playing that long captivated the audiences in the world’s best halls did not leave anyone untouched.
The Malta Chamber orchestra is a unique team uniting musicians from different countries and various performing schools and traditions. My colleague, the wonderful double bass player Marco Agnetti, captivated me by the tonal beauty of his instrument in Italian Belcanto style and perfect phrasing.
I’ve had the honour to take part in joint projects with Maestro Felix Korobov for nearly a quarter of a century. They are chamber concerts where he participates as a cello player, performances and new productions at Stanislavsky Music Theatre, concerts of the Moscow conservatoire chamber choir that Felix Korobov has led for over ten years as well as other projects. Especially memorable for me were the première of Koussevitzky’s concerto for double bass and orchestra in Tbilisi and Nino Rota’s Divertissement in Belgorod where I played as a soloist.
Irina Arkhipova, Vladislav Pyavko, Elena Obraztsova, Peter Stein and many other renowned cultural figures praised Felix Korobov’s musical prowess. However, Maestro Korobov’s true secret is how quickly he learns scores — sometimes within minutes. You may get an impression that artificial intelligence manages the process.
The warm and friendly environment in the Malta Chamber orchestra made our creative work as well as friendly interaction easier. Our colleagues have become our new friends, we communicate with them in social networks now and look forward to new meetings.
Cello, 5th year student at Tchaikovsky Moscow Conservatory
— It’s my first experience in collaborating with foreign musicians in an orchestra, but we didn’t have any difficulties understanding each other. Besides, there was virtually no language barrier, we easily related to each other in the musical material and it helped, in my opinion, to sound like a single unified whole.
The orchestra is a compulsory subject in the first three years at the Conservatory. I was lucky to make it to the Conservatory chamber orchestra whose director and conductor is Felix Korobov. To say that it was one of my favourite subjects and I enjoyed playing under the Maestro’s direction would convey next to nothing. The Chamber orchestra is a big family and Felix Korobov is a true Teacher. Thanks to his guidance, I have numerous compositions of various epochs and genres in my orchestra repertoire and the experience I got in all performances has greatly influenced my musical progress.
I noticed that the audience listened attentively both to the well-known and unfamiliar pieces through the entire concert.
I’d be happy to play once again in such a mixed orchestra! It is exciting to perform and interact with colleagues from other countries.
Viola, Stanislavsky Musical Theatre Moscow orchestra, soloist
— In my student days, I was lucky to participate in Russia’s combined orchestras (Saint Petersburg) and an international one in Holland where I got invited as the first viola. Joint work with musicians from other orchestras is an excellent and most exciting experience.
Every country has its own national traditions and every music school has its own specifics, that’s why all of us have something to share with each other. Such projects give the musicians a chance to broaden their professional horizons and improve their artistry. Every person is unique and music is a multi-layered phenomenon for perception, it is best understood through creative interaction, an ability to hear something in a different way and discover something new for oneself.
I have worked in the orchestra under Felix Korobov’s guidance for over nine years. I got acquainted with him at the chamber orchestra of Tchaikovsky Moscow Conservatory already back in my student days. Maestro Korobov is a remarkable musician, he has strong energy that plays a very important role in concert rendition.
Thanks to his talent and all-round knowledge he can easily get the musicians interested and involved and generate a warm and creative environment in the team. Every concert is creative work, music comes to life and its new colours and dimensions open up.
The audience was very attentive and warmly welcomed all pieces played at the concert dedicated to the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Russia and Malta. I will eagerly look forward to new meetings and joint creative projects.
Violin, Stanislavsky Musical Theatre Moscow orchestra
— It is my first time with an orchestra from another country and a most exiting experience. They are top-notch professionals, true masters in their field, but they are also excellent people, very open and cordial. It was a pleasure to work with them. And the music united us, of course, for it is a lingua franca that all of us speak fluently.
I have played with Maestro Korobov many times and those have always been great occasions for me. He charges the orchestra with his energy and temperament and it is always exciting to play under his direction.
The audience was very attentive, perceptive and grateful and applauded generously. I think the listeners enjoyed the concert.
Well, if I were offered to play with a joint orchestra, I’d certainly agree. It is a new and very exciting experience.
Violin, Tchaikovsky Moscow Conservatory chamber orchestra
— I have played in orchestras with musicians from different countries and it’s always been a fascinating and useful experience. Music-making together with musicians of various performing backgrounds and traditions always helps mutual creative enrichment. It was interesting to discover music by the contemporary Maltese composers. I’ll always welcome and remain open to such offers of collaboration.
Violin, Tchaikovsky Moscow Conservatory chamber orchestra
— I’ve already played in international teams. It is always a pleasure when people from different counties meet and share information and expertise. Music is a powerful unifying force and that’s good. You are quite right: music is truly a language of communication for us — understandable and, certainly, unifying.
I have performed with Maestro Korobov on numerous occasions, for he is artistic director and principal conductor of the Tchaikovsky Moscow Conservatory chamber orchestra and I have the honour to be its first violin. Every concert with Maestro is a great pleasure.
I’d like to believe that we managed to capture the audience. The concert included compositions from various epochs and countries that one can only seldom hear in concert halls, especially played by an orchestra with musicians from different countries, a superb conductor and a soloist. I am sure that the Maltese composers’ music produced a special and pleasant impression on the audience.
I am always happy to interact with musicians from different countries. I am glad that a common pursuit and even calling unites us.
Viola, Tchaikovsky Moscow Conservatory; Russia’s national orchestra
— This is my first joint work with a foreign orchestra and musicians of a different ethnic background. It is not a challenging but at the same time very interesting undertaking, since every music-making experience with different players, especially of another nationality is very useful. Music is a universal language and we can say that it is an international one.
I performed many times with Felix Korobov when he conducted the Moscow Conservatory Chamber orchestra.
The audience at the concert was very welcoming and rewarding — judging by the applause. I believe the listeners got interested in the Maltese composers’ works since their music contrasted with that by the Russian composers.
Yes, of course, I would be very much interested in performing again and again with the joint orchestra.
Viola, Tchaikovsky Moscow Conservatory chamber orchestra
— Music is an international means of communication and that’s why no barriers emerge between musicians from different countries. And playing with people of different cultural backgrounds and musical traditions is a fantastic experience. I’ve been privileged to perform under the outstanding musician Felix Korobov on numerous occasions. Every encounter with him gives me a true joy of creation and puts just yet another ‘coin’ into the ‘bank’ for my professionalism. Of course, modern music may not always be easy for an unprepared public to comprehend, but there is a special charm in all this — to try and convey everything the composer put into the music to the audience that is exposed to his music for the first time. Fortunately, the music we played at this concert was written with superb professionalism; the composers project their ideas, thoughts and feeling perfectly clearly through the fabric of their musical compositions. That’s why I am sure that our music resonated with the hearts of the audience.
And it is always a great pleasure to interact with new people through music, share cultural experiences and blend together various performing schools; to find a true interpretation through a symbiosis of different creative approaches. It’s been a remarkable experience for me and I now Iook forward, with hope and trepidation, to the next meeting on a common stage.
Violin, Stanislavsky Musical Theatre Moscow orchestra
— It is always exciting to communicate and jointly create something with talented musicians. And when they come from different countries and cultures, you can feel a special energy, a mutual interest and such creative interaction produces a very special result.
I had such experience several years ago, when I took part in a tour by the CIS Youth Symphony Orchestra under Vladimir Spivakov’s direction. And it was no less exciting.
Maestro Korobov is principal conductor at Stanislavsky Music Theater where I work. He is also my first teacher and principal conductor at the Moscow Conservatory Chamber orchestra, so I have known him for quite a while. Our rendition at this concert made me note once again his unique ability to unite the orchestra within a short period of time by a single, common thought and emotion. His energyб without doubt, leads you and I am sure that none of the listeners has any idea of how very few rehearsals the musicians — earlier complete strangers — needed to create such a wholesome orchestra. And full credit for this goes to the maestro.
The public was unusual but very open and we saw it for ourselves mixing with them after the concert.
It’s exciting and even essential, perhaps, for musicians, to meet with each other, for we share a common pursuit and our new contacts help us learn more about ourselves and others.
Double bass, Malta Philharmonic orchestra
— It was my first time in Russia. I had an opportunity to go around the historical center of the city, Red Square, etc. My impression is that Moscow is a city on the other side of the planet.
I have already played with many orchestras and many great musicians from all around the world. If somebody can’t communicate in English working in an orchestra, it is not an issue… musicians can use their eyes, ears and body language.
In Moscow I had an opportunity to work with Mro Korobov for the first time. He is an amazing musician, who knows exactly how to organise the rehearsal time, how to get good results from the musicians without stressing them. His body language is really clear and he is able to phrase with great naturalness and always with a smile.
In my opinion, the audience listened with curiosity to the Maltese composers’ works and what’s more, it was fascinated by the performance of the amazing Maltese soloist Carmine Lauri.
Of course, I never pass up an opportunity to meet and play with new musicians. Every good musician needs to learn with his eyes and ears from others players.
Violin, Malta Philharmonic orchestra
— It’s my first time in Russia. I managed to see some interesting buildings. Moscow has unique features that distinguish it from other places.
It’s the first time I collaborated in another country, though foreign orchestras sometimes join and work together in Malta as well. It wasn’t difficult to play with different musicians. Music is an international language.
I didn’t play with Mro Korobov before. It was a good experience performing under his direction. The audience seemed to appreciate and enjoy the Maltese composers’ music.
It was a unique experience and I would certainly love to have more chances to play abroad in future.
Inmaculada Muoz Salgaero
Violin, Malta Philharmonic orchestra
— It was my first time in Russia and in Moscow, and I have to say that Moscow is more modern that I thought and more beautiful as well.
It wasn’t the first time that I collaborated with orchestras from other countries, actually I played with different professional orchestras many times in Spain and Belgium, and also where the players came from different orchestras; the experience was always very pleasant and the results were excellent.
I played with Mro Korobov for the first time and enjoyed it. He is a great musician. Playing under his baton and with other musicians was a very positive experience: one had to be sensitive and react in time playing with the musicians we were not used to.
I played as the leader of the second violins for the first time (I played in this position with youth orchestras) and this was a very good experience too.
The audience was very polite and warm. They liked all the music we played and there was a lot of applause.
For sure, I’d be glad to perform with a joint orchestra if I had an opportunity. This opportunity was an honour. I really appreciate it and I thank MPO very much for it.
Violin, Malta Philharmonic orchestra
— This was my first visit to Russia. It was fantastic to have a guided tour of the city centre with a knowledgeable guide. We were especially lucky to be staying so close to the main historical sights. I loved the historic architecture with its bright colours and exotic shapes — very different from anything I had seen before. To walk around at night with all the buildings lit up was also fantastic. Moscow was very easy to walk around.
I studied abroad and it was not the first time I collaborated with musicians from other countries (the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra is also quite multicultural). I always find this an inspiring and exciting experience: hearing how people with different backgrounds and training approaches play the same instruments, music and interpret composers’ thoughts… In this case, it was particularly exciting to play Russian music in Russia, with the musicians for whom this repertoire is more customary. It was also good to introduce the music by Mro Vella, an important part of the Maltese repertoire, to the players for whom it was totally new.
It was an honour to work with such an esteemed conductor as Mro Korobov, and despite the fact that language was a potential barrier, communication was not an issue. The Italian musical terms composers use, were an adequate common language, as well as the non-verbal communication successful chamber musicianship requires: listening to the sound and watching the other players. Music is very much a universal language.
The audience seemed very receptive to the concert programme on offer, and the feedback from them afterwards was very positive.
I would love to take part in any future collaboration on offer. Meeting other musicians and seeing new settings is always inspiring; it gives you a fresh perspective on music and life. It was really fascinating to get to know our Russian counterparts and learn how their musical training and professional lives differ from my own. I feel that this part of the experience was almost as important as the musical collaboration.
Viola — section principal, Malta Philharmonic orchestra
— It was my first time in Russia and in Moscow, of course. It is a very nice city.
I have already collaborated with other orchestras in various countries. Performing with other orchestras and musicians is always a positive experience.
I’ve never performed with Mro Korobov, so it is, as usual, an experience to add to my portfolio.
The audience showed a lot of interest, especially in the Maltese compositions. We had the pleasure to talk to some of them after the concert, and they told us how much they had enjoyed it.
Collaboration with musicians from different orchestras is always a very good opportunity, of course. One always learns so much from them.
Violin — MPO leader,
Malta Philharmonic orchestra
— Yes, it was my first time in Moscow. It is a very nice city, indeed.
It wasn’t my first time with another orchestra.
I enjoyed working with Mro Korobov very much; it was my first experience with him.
The audience enjoyed the Maltese music a lot, especially because we played some Maltese folk themes.
I’ve always been interested in playing with other orchestras and musicians; it’s always nice to have this type of experience.
Violin, Malta Philharmonic orchestra
— Obviously, it wasn’t my first time in Russia and in Moscow. The city has changed a lot.
I had an experience of collaboration with foreign orchestras and playing in other countries. I wouldn’t say that it’s difficult but it takes some time to get used to your new colleagues. It’s true that when people start to play music, words aren’t relevant anymore.
I didn’t perform with Mro Korobov before but this occasion was fabulous. I’d say that it gave me a very clear picture of how a professional orchestral musician can become a truly brilliant conductor.
The audience was very kind and interested in listening throughout the whole concert.
I already had opportunities to collaborate with other orchestras in the past and this helped my musical development a lot. Definitely I’d say yes to any opportunity I could get.
Violin, Malta Philharmonic orchestra
— Yes, it is my first time in Russia. Moscow impressed me a lot. The city centre is very beautiful, the streets and buildings are very clean. I felt safe.
It was not the first time I collaborated with a different orchestra, but the first one with Russian musicians only. I did not find it difficult to play together even though the playing manner is very different from the one in Malta. I am from Poland and I have come to the conclusion that the style of making music is very similar to the one I grew up with. The Russian musicians are very good players! I’d like to specially mention violinists Mikhail Feyman and Dimitry Novikov. And Mro Korobov and the great Carmine Lauri, of course.
I didn’t play under the baton of Mro Korobov before and enjoyed it a lot! He is one of the few conductors I would like to work again with. Hope to see him in Malta!
The audience appreciated what it was listening to. I learnt that they liked Borodin’s and Tchaikovsky’s masterpieces more than the contemporary music.
To collaborate again — yes, of course! Without any hesitation. It is a very refreshing experience that opens up new horizons.
Cello, Malta Philharmonic orchestra
— Yes, this was my first time in Russia and in Moscow. I managed to meet up with the double bass player I played with some years ago, who is a very good friend of mine. He and another friend from the Bolshoi orchestra drove me around a lot of the city and we went for tea. His friend wanted to tell me a lot of jokes, so poor Vladimir had to translate all afternoon. He got a bit tired but I enjoyed it.
We had no problems rehearsing. The Russian musicians were very welcoming and a pleasure to work with. Yes, music can work as a lingua franca to an extent, but some elements of rehearsals require explanation; complete clarification of some details because this saves time.
Working with the maestro was very enjoyable. I’m a big, long-time lover of Russian culture, and playing Tchaikovsky with him fulfilled many long-standing wishes of mine — playing the great Russian music under an enthusiastic and generous Russian maestro in the heart of Moscow.
It was a very nice and intimate venue, ideal for the string orchestra repertoire, and it was easy to see and feel the audience becoming involved with, and enjoying the sweet Mediterranean sounds of the Maltese music.
I would say that these days, when there is a need for real communication between countries, and when travel is so frequent and easy, it would be an unforgivable tragedy not to play and share music with people from other cultures.
Cello, Malta Philharmonic orchestra
— First of all, I want to thank absolutely everyone who took part in this project!
It was not my first time in Russia and Moscow, but now that Russia is unofficially at war with Ukraine this visit is special for me. It was very important to make sure that people still want to communicate and work together in a normal way.
The City and especially the Stanislavsky Theater and the conductor Felix Korobov with his artists left a wonderful impression, I think that it is a great idea to unite people through music and work; I look forward to the future of our orchestra.
MPO Executive Chairman
— This is my fourth time in the city of Moscow and it is a beautiful capital full of life with grandiose architecture and wonderful atmosphere, especially dear to me for the general appreciation of classical music.
While this was not the first time that our orchestra or part of the MPO has represented Malta abroad, however this project was the first of its kind, being an orchestral collaboration with musicians from a country renowned to have produced the best musicians. It was undoubtedly a challenge for our musicians about whom, I’m proud to say I’ve heard great things with regards to how they integrated and collaborated beautifully as part an assembled orchestra.
I’m happy to say I had the pleasure of meeting and having a chat with Mro Korobov, whose capabilities are certainly apparent in the quality of the product of this Maltese-Russian assembled orchestra.
As I said before, Moscow is a country that appreciates music and it is always an immense pleasure to perform to an audience that hangs on every note and is attentive for the whole rendition of the pieces, no less involved for the pieces by Maltese composers that we brought with us from home.
Unquestionably, when musicians from two different entities collaborate there is always much to learn from each other and an overall very exciting experience. However, for all our musicians — being professional artists, these challenges are important not only for their musical development but also for mental motivation and spiritual growth.