Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Taste of Perm Culture - the Museum and the Symphony

Train station built in the 1700s
The real start of the "cultural revolution" of Perm was the opening of the Museum of Modern Art. Housed in what was once a harbor station on the Kama river, the Museum and its visionary founder have come to symbolize the new Perm, in much the way the museum at Bilbao in Spain re-defined that region.  They are currently having an exhibition of video art, with cutting edge artists from all over the world.  We are invited to come check out the exhibit, and the museum staff agrees to keep the galleries open late so that we have enough time to view the entire exhibit.  The band and our posse take the long walk to the waterfront together, passing through an old park with a statue of Lenin, and the original Opera House.  The weather has been unseasonably warm since we arrived here, and it's a great night for a walk. 
 The "Eternal" posse walking through Perm

Perm Museum of Modern Art

All roads lead to art museums

The most distant one is MOCA in LA

What's the Russian word for "tourist"?

Video Galleries inside the museum

 Sayan becoming one with the art

Tanja performs with the video art

Radik, Carmen and Alexi outside the museum

After viewing he exhibits, we take a walk by the river, where there are outdoor bars and improvised discos full of young people enjoying the unexpected summer weather.  One thing that has amazed us since we arrived is that every night we see lots of people walking down the street with open bottles of beer in their hands.  In Perm it is legal to drink beer this way, but not vodka or harder alcohol.  Everywhere we go we see men and women of all ages carrying open beers.  It is not an unusual sight to see 4 beautiful young women walking arm in arm "Sex In The City" style, each with a liter of beer in their hands.
Outdoor bar by the river

Enjoying walking with a beer - it's what you do in Perm

The Kama river in Perm

Joe & Celeste by the Kama river
The following evening, the ladies in the string quartet suggest we go to see an exceptional concert at the Opera House. Our ever-present guardian angel Tatiana uses her contacts at the Opera house to get us amazing seats for only 100 rubles each (about $3.50). It is a famous conductor from Moscow, along with the Moscow Symphony performing a violin concerto by Tchaikovsky and then Shostakoc's 5th Symphony.  The soloist for the concerto is a 27 year old wonder, who is originally from Perm, and his performance is incredible.  But the real revelation is the Shoshtakoic.  One of my favorite symphonic pieces, (and one of the great sources of much film music, including Herrmann and Williams), I have heard it performed in LA, Boston and San Francisco.  But I have never heard it performed like this.  Hearing a Russian orchestra with a great Russian conductor perform on of their countrymen's masterpieces made me haer the work in a completely new way.  The brilliant orchestration and haunting melodies were never so stunning as this evening in Perm.
The Opera House in Perm
A statue of Lenin in the park

Tanja & Sayan 

Inside the Opera House

The stage was specially converted for the symphony event


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