The mission of the Eurasia International Music Festival, which was initiated and is held by the Sverdlovsk State Philharmonic, is to extend and further develop the creative relations of musicians from Asia and Europe, to back up the meeting between the Orient and the Occident in the space of academic music.
The cross-cultural influences between the two continents are diverse and multi-faceted; the dialogue between the music cultures of the West and the East is so intense that the idea of the music festival capturing the history of these exciting relationships was, actually, up in the air.
What city could be more perfect for hosting this festival than Ekaterinburg that lies on the border between two continents, Asia and Europe? On one side – inestimable wealth of India, China and Japan, the Middle and Far East; on the other side – the impressive legacy of centuries-long West European and Russian music traditions.
In this context, it is worth remembering that the first European professional instruments were variations of the Arabs’ early musical instruments. The first seeds of secular music to be further planted in Europe were brought by trouveurs and bards who came back from the crusades to Palestine. Appreciating the exquisite artistry of the Oriental poetry and the delight of languorous Oriental melodies, they created song-and-dance genres that were new in Europe and performed them on the modified tar and oud at the courts of medieval European kings.
Russian composers – Glinka, Borodin, Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Rachmaninov – created music of Russian orientalism, which was rich in blooming Arabian, Persian and Turkish allusions: Their compositions had a very special perception of the musical Orient with a distinctive spicy accent, which, however, was referred to as the Russian style by the Western music community.
The adaptation of Eastern music by composers of Russia, which absorbed influences of music traditions of the Transcaucasia and its colonies in Central Asia, and by composers of the West that looked towards Japan and China was very different in the 19th century. The French music owes the Chinoiserie style to fascination with the Chinese culture: Impressionists Debussy and Ravel did not escape this trendy passion.
For four centuries the East had been influencing the development of West European music: The inverse effect took place only in the late 19th century when the East stopped being hermetically impervious. The onset of union republics triggered opening of professional composer schools in the Transcaucasia and Central Asia. World War II put an end to the closedness of the Japanese culture that opened up towards European music. Asia that conceived a passion for classic music in the modern times is going now through the boom of classic music performance. Asian musicians – from South Korea, China and Japan – take the first places at prestigious international contests. The European market is full of novice virtuosos of the generation of the nineties- early two thousands. This wealth must be introduced to the audience that should be aware of it. The Eurasia Festival serves this purpose perfectly.
The concept of the festival can be verbalized as follows: “Consolidation, strengthening and identification of cultural relations and influences of two continents, exploration of the cultural counter-streams from Asia and Europe, their blending and synthesis in the space of the Russian music tradition”. To facilitate the processes of cultural communication the festival places orders for symphonic compositions to three composers – from Asia, Russia and Europe. Music is known to be the best communicator. It is an ideal means of mutual appreciation and understanding of different cultures, peoples and nations. The Eurasia Festival serves to achieve this grandiose humanitarian objective.