Andrey Sakharov International Art Festivals "Russian Art and the World" have been held by Nizhny Novgorod Philharmonic Society since 1992. They present the principally new concept which is harmonious to the democratic changes in Russia within the last years. The authors and artistic directors of the Festival are Olga N. Tomina and Valentin A. Berlinsky. The moral guide of the concept are the ideas and moral position of one of the most distinguished humanist A. D. Sakharov who had warned that dissociation of the mankind could lead to the global catastrophe and that the world needs unity, mutual understanding and free information exchange. That is why the motto of the International Sakharov Art Festival is the idea of indissoluble integrity of domestic and the world culture.
The bright humanist conception of Andrey Sakharov International Art Festival attracts many famous musicians, artists and writers from Russia, Austria, France, Switzerland, Spain, the USA, Mexico, Israel, etc. The last seven festivals (held in 1992-2002) united such outstanding artists as Mstislav Rostropovich, Galina Vishnevskaya, Yuri Bashmet, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Jansug Kakhidze, Antonio de Almeida (France), Eliso Virsaladze, Natalia Gutman, Nikolai Petrov Dmitry Bashkirov, Victor Tretiakov, Sergei Stadler, Misha Maisky (Israel), Dora Schwarzberg (Austria), Daniel Pollack (USA), Elisabet Leonskaya (Austria), Vladimir Viardo (USA), Victoria Postnikova, Alexei Lubimov, Ivan Sokolov, Sergei Nakariakov, Daniel Kramer, Valery Afanasiev (France), Jean-Efflame Bavouzet (France), Ilia Grubert (Holland), Vagram Saradjan (USA), James Curby (Great Britain), Walter Delahunt (Canada), Stefan Metz (The Netherlands), Borodin State Quartet, Fine Arts Quartet (USA), Danelle Quartet (France), Churlenis Quartet (Lithuania), Chamber Orchestra headed by Saulus Sondetskis (Lithuania), Chamber Chorus headed by Vladimir Minin (Moscow, Russia), Philadelphia Boys Choir and Chorale, "Moscow trio", Early Music Ensemble "Hortus Musicus" (Estonia), Serguei Yursky, Natalia Teniakova, Tatiana Lavrova, Aleksey Batalov, Mikhail Kozakov, Valentin Nikulin (Israel), Carina and Ruzanna Lisitsian, singers: Nani Bregvadze (Georgia), Nikita Storozhev (Mexico), Francoise Pollet (France), Silvia Schluter (The Netherlands), Z.Edmund Toliver (USA-Germany), poets: Andrei Voznesensky, Evgeny Rein, Henry Sapgir and many others. Bright moments of the Festival history are also connected with the leading artists and groups from Nizhny Novgorod: Academic Symphony Orchestra, Chamber and boys choirs, Alexander Poznansky, Chamber Orchestra "Sophia", etc.
In 1999 the Andrey D. Sakharov International Art Festival the first out of all Russian festivals was adopted to the European Association of the Festivals (UNESCO) and highly appreciated for its performing and organizational level.
The VIII Andrey D. Sakharov International Art Festival bids fair to become an important event in the cultural life of Nizhny Novgorod and Russia as well. It is going to surpass the previous Festivals as to the number of premieres and new names. During the 16 days the Festival events will be held in the leading concert and exhibition halls and theatres of Nizhny Novgorod - The Kremlin Concert Hall and the Small Hall of the Philharmonic, The Conservatoire Concert Hall, The Drama and the Puppet Theatres, and the State Museum of Arts. The 20 musical programmes and plays starring about 350 performers from Russia, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Austria, Great Britain, Italy, and Argentina will feature a wide array of genres, epochs and styles. The programmes incorporate concerts of symphony, chamber, choral, and jazz music, ancient and modern arts, literature, ballet, theatre performances, and art exhibitions.
By tradition, separate days of the Festival are dedicated to the art of a European countries - The Netherlands, France, Great Britain, or Germany. This year, a most comprehensive presentation will be made of the modern art of Holland, whose cultural heritage - the glory of the country - will presented at the Festival. The Dutch Culture Days - a kind of a festival within the Sakharov Festival - will present the Dutch performers of the ancient, classical and modern music, dancers of the established school of the modern European ballet - the "Introdans" Modern-Ballet, as well as the renowned Dutch writer and musicologist E. Shoenberger - one of the authors (with famous Dutch composer Louis Andriessen) of "The Apollo's Watch" - a brilliant book describing the life and creativity of Igor Stravinsky. Simultaneously with the concerts, the Dutch masters of Arts will deliver lectures and workshops. In turn, young musicians from Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod will prepare to perform music of Dutch composers. Apart from that, the Nizhny Novgorod State Museum of Art will hold the "Dutch Arts" Exhibition exposing canvases from the Museum's funds. The exhibition has already aroused a genuine interest of our Dutch guests.
Among the most important events of the Festival are the premieres of the Galina Vishnevskaya Opera Centre and the S. Obraztsov Central Puppet Theatre, performances of Mstislav Rostropovich and the Grant Holders of his Charity Fund, Yuri Bashmet and the "Moscow Soloists", the Borodin State Quartet and the Saratov Theatre of Choral Music, concerts starring Maxim Shostakovich, Dora Schwarzberg, Jorge Bosso, Natalia Gutman, Victor Tretiakov, Marisa Tansini, Didier Lockwood (the world's first jazz violin) and Daniil Kramer and the new participants of the Festival - the internationally renowned drummer Colin Currie (the UK) and tenor Josef Protschka (Germany). The concert programmes develop the principal themes within the "Russian Art and the World" concept of the Festival. These are the mutual influence and artistic interaction between Russia and foreign countries, presentation of most significant classical and modern culture events, exploring new names and artistic trends. Along with the acknowledged masterpieces the Festival gives above 20 first performances, among them several European and even world's premieres. Another Festival's tradition - performance of D. Shostakovich's compositions - is successfully preserved. Addressing the ingenious composer's musical heritage and the way his symphonies are performed today will enable us to get a different view of our past.
The forthcoming Sakharov Festival constitutes another step in the search for the unity in diversity of cultures aimed at breaking the past stereotypes and establishing an atmosphere of confidence, harmony and concord in relations between countries and peoples.