Director of the Moscow Philharmonic Alexei Shalashov speaks on the state of the academic concert sphere


The academic concert industry in Russia has been actively developing in recent years, said Alexei Shalashov, Director of the Moscow Philharmonic in an interview with the ‘Izvestia’ newspaper. In particular, he drew attention to such trends as the strengthening of symphony orchestras, the building and reconstruction of concert halls, and the growth of sales of season tickets.

“But one must understand that the situation varies in Russian towns and cities. It all depends on musical traditions, the level of performing art, infrastructure and, of course, public demand for classical music. In general, in my opinion, the trend is positive,” he said.

Alexey Shalashov emphasized that in the current difficult situation associated with the pandemic, it is important to maintain the funding of regional organizations and groups in full.

“It is difficult to assemble a symphony orchestra, a choir, an academic folk group, but it’s easy to lose them, if people don’t have enough money for living, they will seek for other jobs. The main task now is to save the personnel, talents,” commented Shalashov.

According to him, European countries are going to resume concert activity in the fall, while in Russia it all depends on quarantine measures that will be undertaken in a particular region. “If there is an epidemiological threat, the halls can’t function,” he explained.

The Moscow Philharmonic has already scheduled a new season, starting in September every day there will be concerts with orchestras and soloists, said Shalashov. But whether the organization will be able to carry out full-fledged concert activity depends, first of all, on the course of the epidemic and successes in combating it. “If we feel confident, then maybe the audience will go to the halls,” said Alexey Shalashov.

Speaking about the monetization of various projects during the quarantine period, the Director of the Moscow Philharmonic noted that he is not considering this possibility at the moment.

“I believe it’s too early to think about it. Many people are in a difficult situation, and our task is to give them the opportunity to listen to academic music for free. Moreover, the Moscow Philharmonic has another important task – we provide content to a large network of Russian virtual concert halls,” he explained.

Alexey Shalashov emphasized that concert organizations are able to work, among other things, thanks to the support of the government: collectives continue to receive salaries in full, and organizations continue to receive the same financing as before the pandemic. However, in his opinion, freelance musicians who are not on staff and do not have a regular income are in the most difficult situation.

“And this is actually our entire golden fund of performers in the field of academic music. Among them there are very famous musicians, winners of many competitions, they have children, rented apartments, mortgages. They simultaneously lost concerts both in Russia and abroad. They need support,” said the Director of the Moscow Philharmonic.

Alexey Shalashov is convinced that all participants of the creative process – artists, philharmonic workers, the public – have a great desire to return to concert halls.

“Let’s hope that our concert life, which has been so interesting and filled in recent years, will be restored,” he concluded.