ODESSA PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA
Odessa, one of the most beautiful cities on the Black Sea Coast, can look back upon a remarkable cultural history. The home of a large port and a bustling city of 1.3 million people, Odessa is multinational to the core, with one of the broadest ethnic make-ups in the entire region. At the end of the nineteenth century, Odessa was a major cultural centre, visited by many outstanding musical personalities. Violin pedagogue Piotr Stoliarsky and his pupils David Oistrakh and Nathan Milstein are among Odessa’s best known musical “children”. The pianists Emil Gilels and Sviatoslav Richter also grew up in Odessa, as did Shura Cherkassky, who was born on Pushkin Street, one of the city’s most colourful avenues. From this proud musical tradition comes the Odessa Philharmonic Orchestra, founded in 1937 and performing regularly throughout the Soviet era with leading conductors and soloists, although not allowed to tour abroad. With the independence of Ukraine in 1991, the orchestra’s status rose; in January of 1993 the government of Ukraine formally awarded the Odessa Philharmonic Orchestra federal status. Since then, the orchestra has become the first from Ukraine to cross both the Atlantic Ocean and the equator, travelling with its music director Hobart Earle to fourteen different countries, performing in such major concert halls as the Musikverein in Vienna, the Philharmonie in Cologne, the Barbican Hall in London, the National Auditorium in Madrid, the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, Carnegie Hall in New York, the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, Orchestra Hall in Chicago and the General Assembly of the United Nations. In June 2002, the orchestra’s status was raised again, when the president of Ukraine, Leonid Kuchma, signed a decree granting national status to the Odessa Philharmonic Orchestra. The orchestra thus became the first organization in the performing arts in Ukraine outside of the nation’s capital, Kiev, to acquire national status. It is also the only performing arts organization in the entire country to go from regional status to national status since the independence of Ukraine in 1991.