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News 11 Oct 17

BEMUS Festival Nears Golden Anniversary

Nearly half a century old, BEMUS is set to showcase some Slavic classical greats, among others.

David Galic

The festival will open with a performance by Russia’s much-celebrated Glinka Choir, led by Vladislav Chernushenko. Photo: courtesy of BEMUS

BEMUS, the Belgrade Music Festival, is inching ever closer to its golden anniversary, celebrating its 49th edition this year. One of the most important cultural events in the city, BEMUS will take place from October 11-20. This iteration will offer the audience some real international musical treasures.

Ever since its inception back in 1969, BEMUS has always being a special event for Belgrade and Serbia. The festival, while seeking to promote local talents and ensembles, has always had a deeply international, cosmopolitan vibe, promoting some of the brightest stars of the international classical music scene. 

Over the years, BEMUS has hosted such names as Martha Argerich, Zubin Mehta, Kronos Quartet, The Royal Koncertgebouw Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Boris Eifman Ballet and many, many more.

This year, its constituent events will take place at various venues throughout the city, at, predictably, some of the best concert halls (the Ilija M. Kolarac Endowment, for example). However, it will also see some concerts held at atypical venues, such as the Ethnographic Museum.

The festival will open with a performance by Russia’s much-celebrated Glinka Choir, led by Vladislav Chernushenko. From this famed conductor we can most likely count on major pieces of Russian and Soviet classical music, along with less well-known Russian spiritual pieces and famous works by a slew of contemporary international composers.

Another “must” of this year's edition of BEMUS is the Serbian chamber music string orchestra, St. George Strings, which is celebrating its 25-year anniversary. Josef Ziga will take to the stage as both a soloist and the artistic curator of the performance. The orchestra will perform works by Italian composers Tomaso Vitali, Giuseppe Tartini and Ottorino Respighi.

Another seminal cultural institution of Serbia marking an anniversary – The Music Academy is celebrating 80 years of shaping the nation’s finest musical artists. The Academy will celebrate by holding a concert showcasing its best students at Belgrade City Hall. It is also putting on a selection of Serbian traditional music curated and performed by the Department of Ethnomusicology.

Other performers include famous Spanish soprano Nuria Rial, while celebrated Bosnian lute player and guitarist Edin Karamazov will perform Spanish national songs, tonadillas, capriccios and Sephardi music pieces. Russian pianist Alexander Sinchuk will perform pieces by Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff. Serbian violist Dejan Mlađenović will perform at the Belgrade City Hall, where the audience will be able to enjoy his interpretations of Bach's Partita no. 1 for solo violin (viola), Sonnata no. 1 for solo violin (viola) and Partita no. 2 for solo violin (viola).

The crown jewel of this year's edition of BEMUS is reserved for the very end. To close the festival, the RTS Symphonic Orchestra will be joined by the amazingly talented Russian violinist Yury Revich. The 26-years-old Moscow-born violinist is one of the most promising youngsters on the contemporary classical music scene. Revich already has already enjoyed a lengthy international career and holds an excellent reputation among critics, audiences and colleagues alike. He has won several prestigious international awards, including the ECHO Klassik Award and the international violin competition award Virtuosi of the 21st Century.

With the accompaniment of the RTS Symphonic Orchestra and guided by famed conductor Bojan Sudjic, Revich will perform a new, never-before-heard piece by Damjan Jovicin, commissioned by BEMUS and entitled A Mathematical Dream, as well as works by master composers Paganini and Prokofiev.

As, once again, this year's edition of BEMUS offers immense talents and huge international names, tickets will disappear quickly. Entrance to all events can be purchased at the Kolarac Endowment ticket office.

To see a full list of events and ticket prices, visit the venue's official websites: www.bemus.rs or www.kolarac.rs. 

This article was published in BIRN's bi-weekly newspaper Belgrade Insight. Here is where to find a copy.

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