Mariinsky Orchestra concert and awards gala in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Aleksandra Efimova and Valery Gergiev

On Saturday, January 24, I drove to Ann Arbor, Michigan for the very great pleasure of hearing the Mariinsky Orchestra in concert at University of Michigan’s Hill Auditorium, presented by the University Musical Society (UMS).

The program for the Saturday and Sunday concerts was entirely of Russian origin, including orchestral masterpieces by Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Mussorgsky and Tchaikovsky.

In some ways, the weekend felt like a homecoming. I lived for 12 years in Ann Arbor, where I attended university and founded my company, Russian Pointe. Listening to Russian music played by this amazing Russian orchestra was a taste of my homeland. Finally, the Prokofiev piece debuted in my current hometown, Chicago! Prokofiev himself played the piano solo at the 1921 premiere with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

After the Saturday evening concert, I attended a private dinner with Mariinsky’s music director Valery Gergiev (photo) and friends of the orchestra and society, some of whom had traveled from across the country for the event. I first met Mr. Gergiev at a concert in the summer of 2013, when I was introduced to him by Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, and it was wonderful to spend time with the Maestro again.

Sunday afternoon’s performance was part of the University Musical Society’s 20th annual Ford Honors Gala and was followed by a gala reception and dinner attended by Mr. Gergiev. Ford Honors celebrate educators and sponsors help to support UMS programs such as performances for school children and workshops for teachers. This element made the weekend even more meaningful to me because of my commitment to performing arts education.

The Mariinsky Orchestra continues its U.S. tour until February, with concerts in Florida, New York and Philadelphia.

Aleksandra EfimovaComment