British-Russian Crossroads: Cultural and Historical Exchanges of Words and Music

15 February 2020

Venue: Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov Memorial Museum-Apartment (Saint Petersburg State Museum of Theatre and Music), Zagorodniy Prospekt, 28, Sankt-Peterburg, Russia, 191002.

Part of the Russia-UK Year of Music project: 

A Voice between Nations: forming lasting bilateral Russia-UK collaborative partnerships through word and music’ (14 February – 16 February 2020)

Conference languages will be English and Russian with simultaneous translation.

Held within Russia-UK Year of Music, this conference celebrates the longstanding fascination the two countries have for each other’s cultures through word and music by rediscovering the intersection of their cultures and identities.  It takes place as part of a festival of art song that focuses on the distinct nineteenth-century Russian-British synthesis of Saint Petersburg’s cosmopolitanism and London’s liberalism which crystallised in the unique sound world of Rimsky-Korsakov’s and the ‘Mighty Handful’s’ romances, and the legacy that this set for on-going intercultural exchange through words and music.

Bringing together performers, musicologists, composers, and cultural historians – and building a community across national boundaries – the conference seeks to encourage an interdisciplinary dialogue that looks at topics relating to the intersection of Russian and British culture through words and music both specifically through art song, as well as in a wider sense, including:

  • Russian songs, opera and musicals set to British texts, either in the vernacular or in translation
  • British songs, opera and musicals set to Russian texts, either in the vernacular or in translation
  • Formation of performer identities, practices and audience reception in the engagement with Russian and/or British art song internationally
  • Words and music through the artistry of Russian-British performers and Russian-British composers
  • Performance and reception of Russian art song, opera and musicals in Britain
  • Performance and reception of British art song, opera and musicals in Russia
  • Representation of Russian music or music-making in British literature or film
  • Representation of British music or music-making in Russian literature or film
  • Historic and current Russian-British collaborations in performance, and the composition of song, opera and musicals.
  • Intersection of Russian-British artistic synthesis of words and music with other countries, cultures or languages

Keynote speakers and panels:

Professor Philip Ross Bullock, University of Oxford

Olga Manulkina, Saint Petersburg State University

Professor Liudmila Kovnatskaya, Saint Petersburg Conservatory, & Russian Institute of Fine Arts History in St Petersburg

Special sessions will be dedicated to:

  • Performer perspectives session and panel discussion with Professor Iain Burnside (Guildhall School of Music & Drama) and soloists from the Mariinsky Opera
  • Contemporary composition perspective session with Russian composers in conversation with Professor Philip Grange (University of Manchester)

As part of the event participants are cordially invited to:

  • Concert of Russian and British art song and piano music (14th February 2020)
  • Song Masterclasses with singers from the Mariinsky Opera (14th February 2020)
  • Concert of Russian-British art song by advanced students of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, and the State Saint Petersburg Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory at the Theatre Museum (15th February 2020) 
  • Concert in Sheremetev Palace by singers from the Mariinsky Opera accompanied by Iain Burnside and Maria Razumovskaya (16th February 2020)

Plans are being made to publish selected papers in an edited volume of proceedings.

Please submit abstracts of 250 words for 20 minute papers or 30 minute performance lecture-recitals to by 10 November 2019.

Please direct queries regarding logistics and travel to/in Russia to

Conference committee:
Dr Lidia Ader, Russian State Rimsky-Korsakov Museum, Saint Petersburg
Dr Paul Archbold, School of Advanced Studies, University of London
Dr Maria Razumovskaya, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London

Supported by:

British Embassy in Moscow

State Rimsky-Korsakov Museum, Saint Petersburg

Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London

Institute of Modern Languages Research, School of Advanced Studies

Open World Research Initiative, Cross Language Dynamics (AHRC)