Montserrat Caballe and classical marathons: The life of the Moscow Symphony Orchestra

October 4, 2020

The Moscow City Literature and Art Awards were presented here on 22 September. The award in the Music Art category went to pianist Ivan Rudin, conductor of the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra, for his projects Bach Marathon, Rachmaninoff Marathon and the performance The Master and Margarita.

For a long time, the orchestra, which is marking its 31st anniversary in 2020, entertained children and teenagers. Its main goal was to acquaint the rising generation with the world of classical music and to help them learn to understand it. Although the orchestra lost this status three years ago, it continues to create programmes for broad audiences.

This story discusses other changes in the orchestra’s life and its current activities.

For all ages

Symphonic performances with recitals of literary works make it possible to popularise classical music. They include a recent performance called Scheherazade featuring the symphonic suite Scheherazade by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and The Arabian Nights, recited by Merited Artist of Russia Darya Moroz.

“This is a symbiosis blending absolutely full-fledged symphonic music with a literary text. This is a highly professional musical performance with no omissions. At the same time, young audiences or young families are able to understand it. This is a way of paying tribute to the heritage of the orchestra that was established with precisely this educational function,” said Ivan Rudin, the orchestra’s Artistic Director.

As a famous pianist and winner of numerous musical competitions, Mr Rudin took on the role of Artistic Director in 2017. He has long been known among professional musicians. He first appeared on stage at the age of 11, performing with the orchestra. Later, he performed in Russia, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and other countries. After turning 16, Mr Rudin began to win prestigious international competitions on a regular basis. His musical career progressed at a breath-taking pace, and he performed at various major classical music events. He recorded CDs, collaborated with the best orchestras and performed on world-famous stages.

Moscow State Symphony Orchestra

In 2000, while a first-year student at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatoire, Mr Rudin organised the 1st ArsLonga International Musical Festival that brought together classical music performers and admirers. Since then, the festival has been held each year, with Mr Rudin invariably heading it.


By 2017, the Orchestra was performing regularly at the Moscow Conservatoire’s Grand Hall, the Bishops Councils Hall at the Christ the Saviour Cathedral and other venues. The leading choirs and soloists of musical theatres performed with him. After becoming the orchestra’s artistic director, Mr Rudin drastically changed its musical intonations, as well as its creative and managerial processes.

In the past three years, the Orchestra has considerably expanded its symphonic repertoire. Various musicians, including Vadim Repin, Justus Frantz and Alexander Rudin, have performed with the orchestra. Its musicians performed during the opening of Zaryadye Park, and at the State Kremlin Palace together with legendary opera diva Montserrat Caballe.


Last year, the orchestra launched preparations for the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven by recording his violin, cello and piano concerto. Quite soon, it will join the Beethoven Marathon project set for Zaryadye Concert Hall, where all of Beethoven’s concerts will be performed. In December 2019, the orchestra participated in the Russian Seasons Festival on the stage of the famous Berlin Philharmonic concert hall.

The orchestra’s art director thinks he can be proud of his musicians, ten of whom were awarded certificates of gratitude by Alexander Kibovsky, head of the Moscow Department of Culture.  The orchestra is a regular recipient of Moscow culture awards.  

Moscow State Symphony Orchestra

The golden talents

Importantly, the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra is helping young talent. Mr Rudin is personally in charge of a cultural and educational project, Golden Talents, that includes a free summer creative school for several specialties, a child and youth creativity competition, and a Grand Prix. Young musicians can perform on stage with the orchestra and take part in the ArsLonga Festival, as well as in many other major projects. The project won a Russian presidential grant for 2020-2021.


A few weeks ago, the orchestra played with two young pianists, Eva Gevorgyan and Hyuk Lee, who had been involved in Golden Talents, played with the orchestra under subscription programmes, and later performed at the Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw. Today Eva Gevorgyan and Hyuk Lee are musicians in their own right with audiences of their own.

He emphasised that the project organisers remain in contact with all Golden Talents participants. “Along with our partners, we help them, and we believe that this serious and protracted support will have a beneficial effect on their careers,” he said.

Moscow State Symphony Orchestra

Personalised marathons and Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel

In 2018, the world marked the 333rd anniversary of the birth of Johann Sebastian Bach. Rudin thought it a good idea to run a Bach Marathon as part of the ArsLonga Festival. From 11 am to 9 pm, Zaryadye Concert Hall hosted a recital that included all of Bach’s concerts.   

Last year saw a Rachmaninoff Marathon that included three events and a recital of all of the composer’s piano concertos performed by Ivan Rudnev himself and the 2019 Tchaikovsky Competition winners.

“It was an absolute sell-out. We could not find a single ticket for our relatives and friends a few days before any of the concerts,” Rudin smiled.

Both the orchestra and its art director pride themselves on yet another production, a symphonic performance titled The Master and Margarita with Igor Mirkurbanov and Darya Moroz. This is not a brief rendition of Bulgakov’s great novel but rather an original interpretation.  It lacks both Berlioz’s death and the black magic session at the Variety Theatre, with the authors focusing on the romantic line.

“We are telling the love story of the Master and Margarita. The musical fragments or whole pieces were selected to fit the ready-made scenario. We play masterpieces composed by Bach, Brahms, Beethoven, Shostakovich and Prokofiev,” says Ivan Rudin, who is the show’s director as well as pianist.  He believes the production has turned out emotionally charged.

For the last six months, the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra has been engaged in yet another project based on War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. The cast includes Sergei Burunov, Anatoly Bely, and Darya Moroz. 

Zaryadye Concert Hall


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