Music and Vision homepage Jenna Orkin: Writer Wannabe Seeks Brush With Death - From the heights of greatness (the Juilliard School; musicians Rosalyn Tureck and Nadia Boulanger) via way-ward paths to the depths of wickedness these reminiscences will entertain and enlighten.


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First impressions of this competition were how professionally and faultlessly it was organised. Putting a contest of this sort together is never easy. But this second Uralsk Competition was truly visionary. As for the music -- I expected a high standard among contestants and was not a bit surprised at how good they were.

Yet another lasting impression was the wonderful calibre of the international jury; I was especially impressed with the hugely informed contributions of Mark Malkovich, British record producer, Chris Craker, and Professor at Tbilisi State Conservatoire, Manana Doidjashvili. How fortunate Uralsk was to have exemplary, self-effacing John Lenehan as accompanist. Journalist, Martin Anderson (UK), Japanese violinist/conductor Kasuki Sawa and jury chairman Bisengaliev also brought their expertise to the adjudication panel.

Mark Malkovich (left) with Marat Bisengaliev. Photo © 2004 Howard Smith
Mark Malkovich (left) with Marat Bisengaliev. Photo © 2004 Howard Smith

Bisengaliev formed the Uralsk Philharmonic and became its artistic director at the bidding of former Regional Akim, Western Kazakhstan, Mr K Kusherbayev; and the ensemble which, while still very much in its infancy, already ranks alongside several similar, long-established groups.

The miracle was that this body of players had achieved such a remarkable standard since it was first convened on 30 May 2003. The UPO is astonishingly capable for an ensemble that has been in existence so short a time. From the outset the orchestra's capabilities were clearly apparent and the Uralsk 'guest audience' heard a bracing, decisively-etched account of Karl Jenkins' architecturally-inspired Palladio followed by exhilarating readings of Holst's St Paul's Suite and the first movement of Mozart's 29th Symphony. As time goes on I have no doubt the Uralsk Philharmonic (Chamber) Orchestra is assured of a great future.

The Uralsk Philharmonic in performance. Photo © 2004 Howard Smith
The Uralsk Philharmonic in performance. Photo © 2004 Howard Smith

For the contest, more than thirty would-be contestants had applied to participate; seventeen were selected and each one featured in the exemplary competition catalogue, however for reasons beyond Uralsk's control, just ten eventually arrived to take part.

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


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