Moscow Conservatory ready to host Tchaikovsky contest

The Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, currently under restoration, will re-open its doors shortly to host the opening of the 14th International Tchaikovsky Competition in keeping with the tradition which has been observed since 1958.

The 110-year Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory was closed for an overhaul in June last year. Shortly after that the musical community expressed fears that restoration would not be completed by the next Tchaikovsky Competition, slated for June 14th 2011, and that the Hall would remain closed for years. Vice-Chancellor Alexander Sokolov dispelled the rumors. He invited journalists to walk around the Grand Hall to make sure that restoration was going on according to schedule and would be completed on time.

Many said that we’d hold the competition and shut the hall again. But this is not true. We’ve planned the next concert season and issued concert programs for all halls of the conservatory. The highlights of the season will be charitable concerts at the Grand Hall.

Participants of the 14th International Tchaikovsky Competition will be the first to assess the Grand Hall’s new look. The Grand Hall will host the opening ceremony, three rounds of the pianists competition, and a closing concert of laureates in all categories – pianists, violinists, cellists and singers – on July 1st.

All academic musicians are drawn to the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory for its top-quality acoustics. For this reason, the restorers are set on preserving the hall’s acoustics as Russia’s national heritage. Vice-Chancellor Alexander Sokolov has this to say.

We’ve produced the acoustic model of the Grand Hall in digital and physical formats, that is, we’ve made a 1:20 model of the same material. And we plan to post this acoustic model as a monument of national importance. We’ve made all relevant measurements. These measurements will be needed decades later, when the Hall will require restoration again and the restorers will have to keep intact the acoustic parameters which we’ve just produced with maximum accuracy.

Every detail of the Grand Hall interior is made of material similar to the previous one, and each material was tested for the acoustic effect – from the new parquet in the stalls and armchairs made of beechwood to fireproof insulation in the walls. After restoration, the Grand Hall will retain its former look but will become more comfortable.

The newly revamped Grand Hall will feature something that few have ever seen or remember – a huge stained-glass window with the image of Saint Cecilia, the saint patron of musicians, which adorned the Grand Hall from the day it opened in 1901 but was destroyed by a shock wave during the Second World War. Now that the tiny bits of glass have been put back together, the stained window will be returned to its original place in lieu of the canvas “Slavic Composers” which had greeted visitors in the foyer for decades.  

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