After President Putin’s shocking decision to hold the 2012 APEC in Vladivostok in 2006, the Moscow government finally took developing the Russian Far East seriously. Well, that time has come and gone and while there have been significant infrastructure changes, such as the construction of the Zolotoy Rog Bridge and the Russky Bridge, the biggest and most significant addition was the construction of the state-of-the-art higher education institution, the Far Eastern Federal University on Russky Island.
Unfortunately, in 2014, they are still constructing it. Вот Россия. But that was good for me (and you)! The old building that still holds the Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU) Department of Academic Arts happens to be two bus stops away from SRAS’ courses at VSUES (you could even walk there if you so desired). The department holds seasonal performances to show off their students’ skills and expertise in the various art forms they learn. I happened to catch the chamber assembly section of the concert series.
The concert hall where the musicians perform is tucked away inside the FEFU Art building. You’ll enter through the front doors and have to ask for permission for entrance at the gate (as you don’t have a FEFU student card). After entering, you’ll have the option of checking your coat into the coat room located on your left. Then you will walk up four flights of stairs to the fourth floor (which in itself is a journey). The Art Department has a wonderful collection of expertly painted pieces of art that range from small realist portraitures to gigantic impressionist scenery. Since I got there early, I waited in the most nifty waiting room I’ve ever been in. It was the combination of an art gallery and a ballet studio. Huge paintings and ballet bars around the room with one side facing the Zolotoy Rog Bridge. FEFU has prime real estate for some nice photography angles.
Once the doors opened, people filled the hall. Don’t expect the doors to open on time, they will open at the time the concert is advertised to begin, then you will wait about fifteen minutes before the concert will be announced and another five for tuning of the instruments. The crowd was not bit, but not shabby either. The primary demographic was older women, but there were a couple of girls who looked around eighteen. Men were definitely lacking (I don’t know what that says about Russia). I was not allowed to photograph during the performance, but I got a couple of shots after to show the size of the performance hall.
The actual performances were held in five sections. All of the performances involved a violinist and a pianist. Sometimes a singer would accompany as well. All of the students were very skilled and played a series of famous pieces, including some from Schumann, Rossini, Rubinstein, Debussy, Gretchaninov, and Taneyev. In total, the concert lasted an hour and a half.
Notable moments include the music director looking like she was straight out of High School Musical (she had that booming dramatic voice that is a qualification for becoming a music director) and the various facial gestures of concentration that the students made. But the greatest aspect of this performance was the idea that I could lack a lot of communication skills and not even understand what was being said; that I don’t know the verbs to describe how I felt about the performance in Russian to the people around me, but I was still able to appreciate it with the Russian comrades around me. Music is a universal language; some of the pieces span over hundreds of years, but everyone can still understand them today. That is a really potent thought.
FEFU Chamber Assembly Concert /
ДВФУ Камерные Ассамблеи
Ul. Perta Velikogo 3/ Ул. Перта Великого 3
March 15, 2014
Free and open to the public
About the Contributor:
Ian Blair hails from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon where he is majoring in Religious Studies and minoring in Russian. He is currently enrolled in SRAS’s Far Eastern Studies Program, hosted at Vladivostok State University of Economics and Service (VSUES). When he isn’t conjugating verbs or memorizing cases, he enjoys photographing the natural and built environment of Vladivostok and being impressed with Russian smoothies. After he returns from Russia, he looks forward to completing his undergraduate thesis and possibly applying to graduate school.