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Carnegie Hall Voices: Clive Gillinson on Tchaikovsky and Gergiev

In 1891, Tchaikovsky made what—at that time—was a major journey, traveling from St. Petersburg to New York to perform at the opening of Andrew Carnegie's new Music Hall, a historic occasion that sealed Carnegie Hall's reputation from the start as the ultimate destination for aspirational musicians from around the world.

Throughout the month of October, we have been celebrating our Tchaikovsky connection as we launch a season-long celebration of the Hall's 120th anniversary, looking at our concert hall's early years as well as the fascinating world into which it was born. We kicked off our exploration earlier this month with five terrific concerts by Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra of St. Petersburg, including performances of six Tchaikovsky symphonies. I can't imagine a better way to start the season or more ideal musical guides!

Sitting in the Hall, listening to Valery conduct the Mariinsky's final concert this month, reminded me of when I first worked with him in my previous post as managing director of the London Symphony Orchestra, where he would eventually become principal conductor. In those early days, as we completed planning for his first set of LSO programs as guest conductor for what would also be his London debut, he told me that he wanted to bring three young soloists from Russia for the concerts. "No one will have heard of them yet—they are only teenagers—but please trust me, they are amazing!" he said. True to his word, audiences were captivated and enamored by these young unknown performers—Evgeny Kissin, Maxim Vengerov, and Vadim Repin—all still at the very start of what have become stellar careers.

I couldn't help reminisce and marvel at Valery's undiminished passion for collaborating with new talent when he welcomed the remarkably gifted 20-year-old pianist Daniil Trifonov, winner of this past summer's Tchaikovsky Competition, to the stage. Earlier this year, I had been captivated listening to him play at the finals of the competition in Moscow, where I spent a compelling 18 days as a member of the Tchaikovsky Cello Competition Jury, which runs in parallel with the Piano Competition (as well as those for violin and voice, which were happening in St. Petersburg)—quite an undertaking for the organizers! Collectively, Trifonov's was a remarkable performance, thoroughly enjoyed by concertgoers in the Hall and listeners around the world via our new Carnegie Hall Live radio broadcast series. The series is webcast and includes a live digital chat component, enabling the online audience to listen together, chat, and contribute comments. It was wonderful to hear the response in the Hall and also to hear what people had to say from around the world. It was definitely a night to remember.

Trifinov, Gergiev, Mariinsky (Steve J. Sherman)
Daniil Trifonov, piano, performs with the Mariinsky Orchestra conducted by Valery Gergiev. Photo by Steve J. Sherman. 

Looking ahead, we have so much music in store this season and so many opportunities to explore. We're excited to share more than 170 Carnegie Hall performances by some of the finest artists from around the globe this year, as well as personal insights from many of our artists and voices from behind-the-scenes on We hope you'll join us often.

With all best wishes,



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