On November 30 the Armenian premiere of the Symphony No.13 “Babi Yar” by Dmitri Shostakovich took place within the framework of the 5th Khachaturian International Festival. The State Youth Orchestra of Armenia, headed by conductor Sergey Smbatyan, presented this composition. The orchestra was joined by the soloist of the Hamburg State Opera Vladimir Baykov (bass) and Choir of Khachaturian International Festival (choirmaster: Radik Melikyan).
The bases of the text of the “Babi Yar” were the five works by the poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko: “Babi Yar”, “Humour”, “In the store”, “Fears”, “Career”.
This symphony written for soloist, bass choir and orchestra in 1962 was a real reflection of the era: the composition was concentrated on the sad pages of those times, humorous and everyday chores, and all this is conveyed with a unique and high quality musical expression.
The composer was inspired by Yevtushenko’s poem written on Babi Yar’s tragedy. In 1941 fascist troops captured Kiev, gathering all the Jews in the ravine of Baby Yar, under the pretext of evacuation, and about 30,000 people were shot dead in just one day. The great artists Yevtushenko and Shostakovich responded to this tragedy, and “Babi Yar” Symphony was written to commemorate all victims.
Vladimir Baykov noted that he had only presented excerpts from this symphony. In Armenia, he performed the whole composition for the first time. By the way, this was Baykov’s second performance in Yerevan, he performed here for the first time 15 years ago, presenting Symphony No.14 by Dmitri Shostakovich with Araks Davtyan.
Baykov noted that he first felt some inconvenience presenting “Babi Yar”. From the beginning it was perceived not as just music, but as a fact. But he gradually began to feel the connection between music, Yevtushenko and Shostakovich. He said there are many contradictions in the symphony. There is a tragedy and humor here.
The Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the State Youth Orchestra of Armenia Sergey Smbatyan highlighted the content of the symphony. He hoped that they were able to convey to the audience all the messages that Shostakovich and Yevtushenko summed up the ideological content of their creations.
The Khachaturian International Festival is coming to an end. Over the months, the audience was provided with beautiful, high-quality music. President of the Armenian Music Society David Ghazaryan considered the Khachaturian Festival as an important event in our musical life.
“The festival includes interesting concert programs, renowned guests from abroad and involvement of our musicians and collectives! This year’s program is very full and original. I highly appreciate the Khachaturian Festival, following it with pleasure and often attending concert evenings,”- David Ghazaryan said.
Yerevan is hosting The 5th Khachaturian International Festival, which is held under the high patronage of the President of RA Serzh Sargsyan. It is implemented thanks to the joint efforts of the State Youth Orchestra of Armenia (General Partner of the Orchestra – VivaCell-MTS), with the support of the Ministry of Culture of RA, the “Khachaturian” Foundation, European Foundation for Support of Culture.