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April 2019
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Baltic Dialogue Initiative

The “Light of the Christmas Star” Festival Brings Together Young Musicians

Young Russian musicians and artists traveled to Finland and Sweden for the third annual "Light of the Christmas Star" International Festival and Contest December 9 to 14.

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The multicolored opening of the Festival was held on board the “Princess Maria” ferryboat that set off from St. Petersburg. The jury traveled with the students. They were very serious and benevolent artists, among them were:

  • Sergey Slonimsky, Professor of Composition at the St. Petersburg Academy of Education and winner of numerous national and international contests
  • Irina Sharapova, Professor of the Concertmaster Department of the St. Petersburg State Conservatory
  • Vladimir Samsonov, soloist with  the Mariinsky Theater, Honored Artist of the Russian Federation, and laureate of international contests
  • Tatyana Konstantinova (Salnikova), Stage Director of the Moscow Operetta Theater and Honored Artist of the Russian Federation
  • Raisa Slonimskaya, musicologist, Doctor of Pedagogical Sciences, Ph.D. in art history, Professor in the Theory and History Faculty of the Art Department of the St. Petersburg State University of Culture and Arts, Professor in the Faculty of Musical Education at the Gertsen State Pedagogical University, and member of the Composers’ Association of Russia.

The participants in the festival were welcomed by the honorary jury chair, Sergei Slonimsky, a member of the World Club of St. Petersburg citizens. He performed the hymn of his club for everyone. Inspiring speeches were delivered by Tatyana Krasnosumova, Secretary General of UPF-Northwest Russia; Tatyana Konstantinova, the jury chair; and Jungwe Lundin, a representative of the Rese Ringen Travel Agency of Sweden, one of the initiators of the Festival.

On arriving in Helsinki, Finland, the participants became acquainted with the city, its history, and architecture. In the evening there were general rehearsals.

On the following day the participants had the opportunity to demonstrate their talents during the contest. This year the number of participants was especially great. There were delegates from many cities of Russia and even from abroad – Austria and Malta. The rich program of the contest day consisted of three parts: (1) variety, (2) instrumental music and academic vocal music, and (3) folklore. The participants performed so skillfully that the jury had a hard time to choose winners. Everybody enjoyed the gala concert and the beautiful performances of the musicians.

The program included Young Ambassador for Peace, in two parts.

First, children ages 12 and younger participated in a drawing contest on the theme “Country of the Future.” There were so many participants that additional sheets of paper had to be found. Eight winners were chosen among the 75 contestants. Their pictures of their country as they would like to see it in the future show images such as people of all races and religions living in friendship, a family in the center of the globe, and people freely and openly communicating with aliens from other planets. In addition to the winners, 20 contestants received encouraging prizes for their positive drawings.

In the second part of the program, the older children participated in a role-playing game called “Country of the Future.” Each gave a serious talk about a role they would play the life of his or her country. Their next task was to write letters to their peers in Sweden, make paper doves as a symbol of peace and friendship, and insert the letters and doves into special envelopes to give to the friends they would meet in Sweden. Those who participated in the game received Certificates of Young Ambassadors for Peace and invitations to the Lodestar Young Ambassadors for Peace Camp which will be held during spring vacations in March.

Adult participants also received certificates. Irina Vysotskaya, permanent head director of the Festival, was appointed an Ambassador for Peace. Thanks to her efforts, the annual contest is always conducted in a smooth and orderly way. In addition she is widely recognized as a gifted emcee for concerts and contests, as a singer, and for playing the role of the Snow Maiden, a beloved Russian folklore character. Irina dedicates herself to developing children’s creative abilities and promoting mutual understanding and friendship between the children of Russia and the Baltic states.

After the end of the contest, participants headed to the city of Turku and then by ferry to Stockholm. In Stockholm, they walked along the narrow streets of the Swedish capital, admired the sights and wonders of its architecture, and visited the Unibaken Museum about the life of noted Swedish author Astrid Lindgren.

The winners of the festival participated in a gala concert on the stage of the Roslag School Auditorium in Norrtälje, near Stockholm. For the large audience they presented their best works, including classical music, unique folklore of the Northern peoples, modern songs, and dances. There was much enthusiastic applause. The Swedish partners, the schoolchildren of Norrtälje, also performed in the gala concert. According to best local traditions, they arranged a festive procession of Santa Lucia, a saint honored on December 13 by a church feast day in Scandinavian countries.

After travelling on three ferryboats, crossing the territories of three nations, becoming acquainted with new friends through their creative work, and learning many new things, the participants returned home endowed with many impressions and priceless experiences, bringing home awards and aspiring to higher achievements.

As they parted, organizers wished the students much success in future festivals and contests.

For more information about UPF-Eurasia's Baltic Dialogue Initiative, click here.

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