It was particularly challenging to organize the 6th Odessa Classics Festival; in addition to global pandemic due to COVID19, great woe came upon the organizers. Shortly before the opening, the Odessa Classics president Alexey Botvinov lost his father, People’s Artist of Ukraine, Doctor of Music, and Arts Tutor Anatoliy Duda.
“My dad dedicated his whole life to worshipping the Arts. To selfless and idealistic worshipping the Music. He was longing to have Odessa Classics held this summer. I know that the only right choice for me will be to hold our festival as planned. Over the last months, my dad and I kept talking about the situation with culture during epidemic outbreak. His fervent desire was to have our festival held despite the unprecedented challenges. This festival is my tribute to my Dad”
That’s the fate of an artist: no matter how down you feel, you have to appear on stage. The air was full of sadness, and… and even adagio by Mozart sounded like requiem. But, as Alexey Botvinov said, “The arts heal!”.
The close and ongoing collaboration of Odessa pianist and Swiss choreographer started back in the last century. After his participation in Clara Schumann Piano Competition in Düsseldorf, Alexey Botvinov was asked by choreographer Heinz Spoerli to perform with the ballet productions, but not as an accompanist, he was to perform piano solo music in the long series of ballets to Bach’s “Goldberg-Variations” and Schumann’s “Kinderszenen”. Alexey thought he was leaving forever, but after halfway through the year began to be depressed, become nostalgic. But as Heinz Spoerli moved to the north of Switzerland, Alexey Botvinov was able to work parallel in two countries, to come to dozens of concerts. Since then, he couldn’t help thinking about possibility to bring the ballet masterpiece to native Odessa.
Dance Maker, as Spoerli calls himself, has always been a lover of piano music; he prefers new live music for his ballet productions, piano solo rather than orchestra. His dance pieces cover a wide variety of choreographic styles.
At Odessa Opera House the favorite prima ballerina of the Zurich ballet, Yen Han, presented her own ballet company. Together with Filipe Portugal and other artists they performed ballet pieces to music by Chopin, Mozart, and Bach as well as presented the world premiere of “Orpheus and Eurydice” by Gluck and Glass, accompanied by the Canadian actress who recited poems.
Yen Han has obviously inherited the style of great dance maker. Modern neoclassical style combined with superb ballet skills and technical excellence filled the audience with admiration, and the evening ended with tremendous applauses by the standing audience.
Such ballet productions are especially valuable due to the fact that a pianist is not an accompanist but a full-fledged participant. One of the ballet presentations by Yen Han was an intriguing response to the pandemic outbreak of COVID-19. The choreography strikingly told us about the lockdown daily routine and self isolation. But the emotionally experienced performance of the J.S. Bach’s suite did bring the hope that sooner or later it would come to an end.
As organizers announced, the concert was held in strict accordance with the official instructions of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine. Seating was arranged in a chessboard pattern, and wearing face masks was mandatory.