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Cherry Orchard Festival Announces 2017 Season

Since 2013 Cherry Orchard Festival has built a solid reputation for presenting moving and intriguing concerts and productions by International Artists and ensembles to New York City audiences. Tickets are now on sale for musical and theatrical performances as the festival returns for its fifth season this spring. There will be two Carnegie Hall concerts by two of Russia's leading ensembles, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Russia's oldest orchestra (March 4), and Moscow Virtuosi (June 7).

Those who love theater will get the rare chance to experience Chekhov's Uncle Vanya in the language in which he wrote it, as interpreted in a new non-naturalistic award-winning production by the great Vakhtangov State Academic Theatre of Russia, directed by Rimas Tuminas. There will be four performances only,June 15-18, at New York City Center by the legendary company, which was founded in 1921 by director and Stanislavsky scholar, Evgeny Vakhtangov.

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The festival begins on Saturday, March 4 when the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra led by Yuri Temirkanov, Artistic Director and Principal Conductor, perform with guest pianist Nikolai Lugansky. Founded in 1882, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra is the oldest orchestra in Russia, and has been under the direction of Maestro Temirkanov, who celebrates his 80th birthday this season, since 1988. The Orchestra performs Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5, which received its world premiere by the ensemble when it was known as the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra. Mr. Lugansky joins the orchestra to perform Brahms' Concerto No. 1.

The festival continues on Wednesday, June 7 when Moscow Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra, led by Vladimir Spivakov, come to Carnegie Hall, as part of their North American tour. They are joined by the soprano Hibla Gerzmava for a program of international opera hits and famous arias, as well as classical favorites performed by the orchestra. Ms. Gerzmava established herself since becoming the Grand Prix winner of the prestigious International Tchaikovsky Competition, and was featured in MET Opera productions of Don Giovanni, Otello, Turandot, and Les Contes D'Hoffman. She performed her debut recital at Carnegie Hall in October 2015.

At the 2014 Cherry Orchard Festival, Moscow Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra and Maestro Spivakov celebrated their 35th anniversary in an Avery Fisher Hall concert with soloists baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky, pianist Olga Kern, and Mr. Spivakov, violin.

Returning to the festival for its third time is the Vakhtangov State Theatre with its production of Chekhov's tragic comedy, Uncle Vanya, directed by Rimas Tuminas, which played a sold-out run in London's West End in 2012. There will be four performances at New York City Center, June 15-18. Uncle Vanya will be performed in Russian with English supertitles.

The production features a star-studded cast of Russia's most acclaimed actors: Sergey Makovetskiy, Liudmila Maksakova and Vladimir Simonov. The dreamlike and surreal production has no Chekhovian mansion, no cosy arm-chairs, no table laid for lunch with a lacy tablecloth and hot samovar; no feeling of 'home' where several generations have lived. Said the Lithuanian director, "I wanted to show the death of the culture that had existed for several centuries. I discovered Chekhov's drama when I was a third-year student at the Vilnus Conservatoire in Lithuania where productions of Chekhov were few and far between. Instantly I had that odd feeling that I was a pioneer who had discovered a brilliant, yet generally unknown playwright. My decision to become a director stemmed largely from the desire to stage Chekhov."

Uncle Vanya is a story of characters caught between tradition and transformation, personal isolation and communal action, the lure of love and the security of duty. By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Chekhov's masterpiece lays bare the characters' passions, hopes and desires with warmth and poignancy.

The production is the winner of Russia's Golden Mask award (equivalent to a Tony award), as well as a Crystal Turandot award and the International Stanislavsky Theatre award. The running time is three hours with one intermission.

The Cherry Orchard Festival presented Vakhtangov State Academic Theatre of Russia in 2014 with the U.S. premiere of its "arrestingly beautiful" (New York Times) production of Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin, directed by Rimas Tuminas, at City Center as well as at Cutler Majestic Theatre, Boston. The company returned to the festival in 2015 with Smile at Us, Oh Lord, based on two novels by Grigory Kanovich, directed by Rimas Tuminas, at City Center. The company previously performed at Lincoln Center Festival 2000 in the U.S. premiere of its production of Alexander Ostrovsky's Innocent as Charged, directed by Piotr Fomenko at Fordham University Theater.

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