ST.PETERSBURG ACADEMIC SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
This year the ST.PETERSBURG ACADEMIC SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA celebrates its 80 anniversary – reputable age, as thinks its chief conductor Alexander Dmitriev. “Saying that the orchestra has reached its maturity we take the risk to call it a day, to admit its development is over. I wouldn't like it. The orchestra has already found its repute, its audience, both in St.Petersburg and abroad. But we have perspectives to develop”. Obviously, the aspiration for progress is the secret of the brilliant reputation of the ensemble, what is confirmed by foreign critic: “Feeling drained at the end, I would have been happy not to have had more but when you hear an orchestra of this calibre on stage you do want more from them...” (Bob Briggs, Music Web International, 2009) – such reviews accompany the orchestra concerts for more some decades. Both audience and critics recognize the ensemble with the true Petersburg style, faithful to classical traditions and, at the same time opened to the best of nowadays. This is the logical result of work of many generations of brilliant musicians – distinguished representatives of domestic conductor school – Evgeny Mravinsky, Ilya Musin, Karl Eliasberg, Nikolai Rabinovich, Arvid Jansons, Yuri Temirkanov and of course Alexander Dmitriev, its unchallenged leader for the last thirty odd years.
The history of the orchestra began in 1931 when an ensemble was organized at the Leningrad Radio. Shortly after that, the ensemble grew to the level of a symphony orchestra. An orchestra, performing in the live air format and collaborating with many conductors, called for constant reinvigoration of a program and acquired flexibility in its performing manner. During the World War II Siege of Leningrad, this orchestra of Leningrad Radio was the only symphony orchestra remaining in the blockaded city. In – August 1942, conducted by Karl Eliasberg, this orchestra played the historic Leningrad première of the Seventh Symphony by Shostakovich.
In the summer of 1953 it became the second orchestra of Leningrad Philharmonia. Tours were held for the first time, including tours abroad; in 1962–1963 the series of composers concerts were complemented with I. Stravinsky and B. Britten. The orchestra gained itself fame of the best accompanying orchestras in the nation, performing with Van Cliburn, Sviatoslav Richter, Emil Gilels, Yehudi Menuhin and David Oistrakh. In 1968 right after PhD studies at Leningrad conservatory, Yuri Temirkanov joins the orchestra. His activity is related to the rapid growth in repertoire and important tours.
In 1977 the orchestra had been taken over by its today’s artistic director Alexander Dmitriev. The collaboration of the conductor with the orchestra continues for more than thirty years. It is the first time in the history of the orchestra that the alliance lasts for so long. These years are marked by the awarding of an honorary title “academic orchestra” to the team. The orchestra has been on tours in Europe, Asia, America. It took part in prestige international festivals (“Arts Square”, “Stars of the White Nights”, “Prague autumn”, “Swansea”, “Canterbury”). The history of the team’s contacts with guest conductors, composers and soloists is as abundant as before. The discography of the team was enriched with recordings of all Beethoven’s and Schubert’s symphonies, and Tchaikovsky`s, Rachmaninov`s, Ravel`s, Britten`s compositions. During the ensuing years in St. Petersburg, the orchestra presented premières of music by Mahler, Debussy, Ravel, Scriabin, Tippet, Orff, Petrov, Slonimsky, Falik, and Pärt. Slonimsky dedicates his Twelfth Symphony to the orchestra, according to him he is obliged to the ensemble with “his symphony debuts”; at the concert dedicated to the 70th anniversary of Yuri Falik's birthday they play the premiere of his Third Symphony. The orchestra, participated in debut concert of the Conservatory student Andrei Petrov in 1954, half a century after the ensemble plays at the first concert in memory of the composer. In its repertoire the Leningrad Symphony by Shostakovich still plays a significant part. In 2004 it was played in honor of the 60th anniversary of the reversal of blockade. And on the 9th of May, 2005 at the Victory Day it was played in Albert Hall under the baton of Maxim Shostakovich – son of the composer.
In the Season 2012/2013, part of which comes within the year of USA-Russia, the orchestra will play Barber`s, Copland`s, Adams` compositions. He will present an original programme “Written in America”. Rota`s The Third Symphony, Nono`s Canonic Variations, Zemlinsky`s The Little Mermaid, Ligeti`s Lontano, Michael Haydn`s Requiem and Gabriel Prokofiev`s Cello concerto will be played in St.Petersburg for the first time. Among outstanding events is the performance of Britten`s and Lutosławski`s compositions and Beethoven`s Missa Solemnis. The orchestra will take part in international festivals and be on tours in the UK and Japan.