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I launched my summer festival season by taking part in the 25th Mikkeli Music Festival with St. Michel Strings. And, sadly, this was also my last week of working with them as Music Director. We had three exciting years together with many interesting projects, but now the time was ripe for moving on (more about this in some later post, I promise). Anyway, at the festival we performed a really great program with five Mariinsky Theare principal musicians added to our group! We opened the concert with Richard Strauss' Duet-concertino for clarinet and bassoon, then played the Shostakovich 1st piano concerto with the incredible Daniil Kharitonov, and for the second half one of the most popular works ever written for srings, Tchaikovsky's Serenade in C Major. I was especially happy that maestro Gergiev decided to come and listen to my final concert as Music Director. As encore we played the Adagietto from Mahler's 5th symphony, with Mariinsky principal harpist Sofia Kiprskaya very generously joining our strength.

Masterclass conductors in mikkeli music festival 2016

Before saying goodbyes there was one more project, culminating in the final orchestra concert of the festival, and that was my 9th international conducting masterclass. Just like two years ago, we worked in the morning with St Michel Strings and in the afternoons and evenings we enjoyed the amazing sound of the Mariinsky Orchestra in rehearsals and concerts. Five talented conductors from around the world took part, and we had really great time as always. All of them did really well in the final concert, congratulations! In my farewell speech to the orchestra and the Mikkeli audience I expressed the wish to continue the popular tradition of masterclasses in Mikkeli. I sincerely hope that wish will come true, since several students have already asked me about the dates. I hope to have some news about that soon!

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With Daniil Kharitonov and Valery Gergiev backstage at Mikaeli