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Khazak police on the beat at the
second Uralsk International Violin Competition.
HOWARD SMITH tells the story ...


Who would believe it? A motorcade of minivans preceded by a police escort, its lights flashing, winding down snow-covered city and country roads. Such a 'welcome home' for a triumphant national soccer team or space shuttle crew has ample precedents. But could this be real? Police accompanying a classical music competition jury, budding concert violinists, assorted orchestra players and two incredulous visiting journalists. Hardly likely!

Follow the leader: Kazakh police lead the motorcade. Photo © 2004 Howard Smith
Follow the leader: Kazakh police lead the motorcade. Photo © 2004 Howard Smith

The fact is, the high-profile attention for a cultural event could, and did occur. A continuous police presence seemed symptomatic of an eye for detail plus intense Kazakhstan media and public interest, all of which typified the second Uralsk International Violin Competition, created by virtuoso Marat Bisengaliev and first held in 2003.

Indeed Uralsk, south of the Russian border and north-east of the Caspian Sea, is the perfect locale for an event involving cross cultural performances. An illuminated obelisk marks the boundary between Asia and eastern Europe. Separating the two; a steel bridge spans the frozen River Ural. Uralsk Airport is in Asia and the city itself (Population: 220,000) in Europe.

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Copyright © 7 March 2004 Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand


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