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23.10.05

Russian National Orchestra

Mikhail Pletnev created the Russian National Orchestra in 1990, free of control by the Soviet government, which was in the throes of perestroika. At the time the Soviet government fell apart, there were an estimated 30 orchestras coexisting in Moscow, almost entirely on state subsidies. An article by Sophia Kishkovsky (In Russia, a free orchestra comes of age, October 20) for the International Herald Tribune tells the latest chapter in the orchestra's story:

Prince Michael of Kent and a retinue of arts patrons including Gordon Getty who have added Moscow to their international high society culture and charity circuit celebrated the 15th anniversary of the Russian National Orchestra - Russia's first and foremost independent orchestra - last weekend with a concert in the Kremlin. Gathered preconcert under gray skies in the Kremlin's Cathedral Square, they exchanged cheery greetings - "Have you just flown in from Switzerland?" "Did we last see each other in Venice?" - as officers of the Kremlin regiment in teal waistcoats and feathered caps re-enacted an imperial cavalry ceremony and tourists craned to peek at the prince, who could be Czar Nicholas II's twin.
Clearly, you need to read the whole thing. They were the first Russian orchestra to win a Grammy, in 2004. Gordon Getty, the son of oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, is one of their most important billionaire patrons. Apparently, he harbors dreams of being a star composer, too. At a concert last Sunday, the orchestra obliged their Maecenas by premiering excerpts of his opera in progress, adapted from Edgar Allen Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher. The concert was not open to the public, so I don't think there will be any reviews.

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