NoŽlle Mann presenting the Prokofiev 2003 Logo which is to unify celebrations around the world.
David Allenby and Muireann Smyth from Boosey & Hawkes.
Simon Crookall, Chief Executive of The Royal Scottish National Orchestra who is performing the complete Prokofiev Symphony Cycle over the 2002-03 season.
Sir Edward Downes and NoŽlle Mann in a rejoicing mood!
The reception was attended by several of the UK's leading critics (notably Hugh Canning and Hilary Finch), members of the Prokofiev family, Prokofiev experts and members of the Association. NoŽlle Mann outlined at some length the genesis of 'Prokofiev 2003' and what was planned for that year. 'Prokofiev 2003' had been suggested by the Serge Prokofiev Foundation two years before, she explained, when Sir Edward Downes volunteered the idea of performing all Prokofiev's works within that year.Initially such an audacious proposal was met with a stunned silence, but, as NoŽlle Mann pointed out, 'one has to aim high in order to achieve a lot'.
†††Soon after that momentous decision Prokofiev's publisher, Boosey & Hawkes, came on board as a partner. Since that year, she told her audience, B&H have been preparing new scores as well as revised editions of various of Prokofiev's works, and produced a handsomely printed calender of events for 2003, also available on their website.
†††The Association then decided to promote and organise a Festival which will take place in a 'wonderful city', namely Manchester. There the Association forged further partnerships with the BBC Philharmonic and the Royal Northern College of Music. The Manchester Symposium Weekend is to be launched on Friday 7 February with a keynote address by no less than Sir Peter Ustinov.
†††To mark the actual anniversary of Prokofiev's death on 5 March, there is to be a Gala Concert - promoted by the Association - at St John's, Smith Square in London, with the pianists Dmitri Alexeev and MikhaÔl Rudy, the cellist Alexander Ivashkin and the violinist Dmitry Sitkovetsky taking part.
†††NoŽlle Mann then talked about the recently reconstructed ballet, Trapeze, and extended particular praise to the English National Ballet for their 'adventurous' spirit in taking on the revival of this once forgotten ballet. The score, reconstructed by NoŽlle herself, is to be published by Boosey & Hawkes, and the ENB are to perform it on 8 April at Sadlers Wells, the first staging of the ballet since its original run of performances in Germany and Italy in 1925-26.
†††Other highlights NoŽlle mentioned in her whistle-stop tour of forthcoming events in the UK (not to mention the events taking place elsewhere in Europe and the USA!) were Ashkenazy's South Bank Festival taking place 7-21 March; a five-day Prokofiev piano and dance festival being held at the Chetham School of Music, Manchester on 16-20 March; and a film festival (still being planned) to be held at the Barbican. Further performances of Prokofiev's music were scheduled at the BBC Proms, the Brighton Festival, the Warwick Festival, and the Lichfield Festival.
†††On the publishing front, volume one of David Nice's long-awaited biography, 'From Russia to the West' -†covering Prokofiev's life up to 1935 - is to be published by Yale University Press. Another American publisher, Ashgate Publishing Company, is due to publish Stephen Press's 'Prokofiev's Ballets for Diaghilev'.
†††On the recording front, Chandos are due to issue more Prokofiev recordings, having already successfully reissued the Bolshoi's recording of Story of a Real Man earlier this year. NoŽlle praised Warner Classics in particular for being the only recording company to be planning the release of a Prokofiev anniversary edition, which she promised would include new and fully up-to-date notes by leading Prokofiev experts (Messrs David Nice and Daniel Jaffť take note!).
†††Well, how do you follow that?' asked Sir Edward Downes rhetorically after NoŽlle Mann's epic summary. He contented himself by mentioning a number of the major performances due to take place in 2003. He touched once again on Trapeze, and then mentioned what will probably be the first live performance in the UK of the First Cello Concerto, on 7 February in Manchester's Bridgewater Hall with Steven Isserlis and the BBC Philharmonic: the only previous performance Sir Edward was aware of had taken place in a studio for a recording. Then, at the Royal Northern College of Music, there is to be a performance of Egyptian Nights on 10 February. Sir Edward explained the background to the work's original production, recalling what a success it had been with a run of no less than 75 performances. However, the logistics of rehearsing and performing a piece involving 45 pieces of music and the several actors needed for the two plays (one by Shakespeare, the other by Bernard Shaw) were such that it has proved impossible to arrange a performance on the actual anniversary of Prokofiev's death. However, Sir Edward expressed the hope that the music might be recorded, and then perhaps actors added to the recording at a later date to complete the work.
†††Finally Sir Edward highlighted forthcoming performances of Prokofiev's official Soviet works in praise of Stalin. For many of us, he noted, the words set in such works as Zdravitsa were a stumbling block. But, Sir Edward argued, though one may not agree with the sentiments or ideology of the words, the music was of such quality that it could, perhaps should, win popularity. Mark Elder had already broken the ice with highly successful performances of Zdravitsa, and Sir Edward hoped that similar success would meet such works as On Guard for Peace: 'I hope you will all come to these performances,' he said in parting, 'because it's very much in your interests -†you'll love it!'