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

Friday 14th February 2020:

11.00–13.30 & 14.30–17.00: masterclass led by Mariinsky soloists Olga Trifonova & Andrei Slavniy, working on Russian and British song with advanced students from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov Memorial Museum-Apartment.

17.30: Philip Grange leads a workshop focusing on his songs, with professional Russian musicians

19.00: Chamber music concert in the Theatre Museum of Saint Petersburg.

Conference Schedule: Saturday 15th February 2020

10.30 Registration and coffee

[intellectual history and performance aesthetics]

10.45 
Keynote: Philip Bullock (UK)
‘Absent Albion?: English Poetry and Russian Song from Zhukovsky to Balmont/Shelley

11.25
Justin Vickers (USA)
Britten, Pears, and Pushkin: The Poet’s Echo in Translation— a lecture recital

11.50
Maria Razumovskaya (UK/Russia)
Confluences of Russian music and the English word in Pasternak’s Dr Zhivago

[reception, commission and staging]

12.15
Keynote: Olga Manulkina (Russia)
The Duenna by Sheridan — Prokofiev —Tcherniakov: Identifying the Genre

12.45
Yaroslava Kabalevskaya (Russia)
Modern Productions of Shakespeare’s Tempest in the Russian Theatre 

13.05
Michelle Assay & David Fanning (UK)
The Greatest Hamlet that Never Was

13.30
Irina Kozhenova (Russia)
Verdi’s Unfulfilled Intentions: The Conundrum of Embodying Shakespeare

13.55
Antonina Maximova (Russia)
London productions of V. Dukelsky in late 1920s: from ballet a la Russe to English thriller

14.20–15.00 BREAK

[contemporary collaborations]


15.00
Special Address: Philip Grange (UK)
Setting English in theory and practice: Philip Grange discusses his approach to text setting in recent song cycles

15.55
Patrick Friel (UK)
Summons: composing for ‘Russian’ voices, interpreting ‘British’ music – lecture recital

16.35 Yulia Kupriyanova (Russia)
Cooperation between the Moscow Conservatoire and the Royal College of Music in London

17.00 – 17.30 Book Presentation by Lidia Ader

Roundtable (followed by a concert of Russian and British song at 19.00)

Interactions between Britain, Russia, and beyond in words and music: ‘Words of Many Meanings.’
• the dynamics of source and (mis)translation in artistic work and pedagogy
• issues of language in the critique of composition, musical analysis and performance
• English-language musicology urgency of rethinking the canon in terms of attitudes to female composers/performers compared to Russia (i.e. whether the Soviet legacy of having women in authoritative positions, and the associated language/rhetoric, has had some sort of impact on this?; or Russian contemporary gender politics)
• talking about music within and beyond the conservatoire (audience engagement, development etc.)

Participating panelists without papers:
Karyl Carlson (USA)
Christina Guillaumier (UK)
Liudmila Kovnatskaya (Russia)

The conference gratefully acknowledges the support of:
British Embassy in Moscow and British Council through the UK-Russia Year of Music award
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)

Sunday 16th February 2020 at 17.00: Concert of songs by Rimsky-Korsakov, Rachmaninov, Medtner and Shostakovich in the Sheremetev Palace, Saint Petersburg. Performed by Mariinsky soloists Natalia Estafieva and Ekaterina Shimanovich, accompanied by Iain Burnside and Maria Razumovskaya.

Events in Moscow: solo piano recital by Maria Razumovskaya in the Scriabin Museum, Wednesday 12th February 19.00.


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 maria.razumovskaya@gsmd.ac.uk by 10 November 2019.

Please direct queries regarding logistics and travel to/in Russia to Lidia.Ader@artparking.org

Conference committee:
Dr Lidia Ader, Russian State Rimsky-Korsakov Museum, Saint Petersburg
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)