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Highlights from Night Serenades — Classical Music Festival: Interview with Artistic Director Giorgi Issakadze

By Mariam Chanishvili
Wednesday, December 1

With the support of the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Youth of Georgia and Tbilisi City Hall, the final concert of the Batumi–Tbilisi XIII International Festival Night Serenades took place at the Tbilisi V. Sarajishvili Conservatoire Grand Hall on November 21.

The concert program featured Sandro Nebieridze – premiere of Fantasy on Zakaria Paliashvili Opera Themes (piece dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the composer), Vakhtang Matchavariani – Dedication to Ludwig Van B for Strings, Timpani and Piano - premiere - (based on themes of Beethoven’s nine symphonies), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Clarinet Concerto for Strings in A Major, K. 622.

The annual festival featured orchestras and musical artists performing shows, including Orchestra Georgian Virtuosi conductor Vakhtang Matchavariani, Sabine Grofmeier – clarinet (Germany), Sandro Nebieridze – piano.

The clarinetist Sabine Grofmeier is one of the most outstanding and diverse artists of her generation. Her warm tone, her gripping musicality, and expressiveness, her confident mastery of the technical means inspire every audience. Sabine Grofmeier is the recipient of numerous sponsorship awards and grants.

The festival was founded by the great Georgian violinist and conductor Liana Isakadze in 1982 in Bichvinta, Abkhazia, Georgia. Back then, the festival was held in the wonderful nature of Bichvinta, accompanied by the organ in the Bichvinta church – all of this created a special mood and atmosphere.

The Messenger had a chance to interview the artistic director of the festival, Giorgi Issakadze, who thanked the sponsors and supporters of the festival.

The festival is supported by the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Youth of Georgia; Tbilisi City Hall; Batumi City Hall; the Ministry of Education, Sport, and Culture of Adjara; The Embassies of Italy and Germany in Georgia;

The festival was organized by the company - Art Alliance, officially insured by Ardi.

Giorgi Issakadze founded Isakadze Music School (Musikschule Issakadze) in 1999. Liana Isakadze is the Honorary Artistic Director. In 2006, he also funded the Academy of Music and Dance in Ingolstadt (Musik- und Tanzakademie Issakadze & Lukashevich). In 2017 Academy of Music and Ballet (Musik- und Ballettakademie Issakadze & Bejuashvili) opened in Munich.

The idea of the Music & Dance Academy with a wide range of events arose above all from the endeavor to give children (but also their parents) a wide range of opportunities for self-development.

- Tell us about this year’s festival and the challenges you've encountered.

-This year’s festival has been a great success. Even though we had a lot of trouble inviting the artists from different countries and taking into consideration all the COVID regulations, we managed to finalize the festival successfully. We had to postpone and change dates twice of the concert taking place in Tbilisi.

Last year, we conducted the festival online and more than 20 000 people saw the live broadcast, including international and Georgian people. I am very thrilled that this traditional festival continues its successful existence.

As you know, the festival was founded in Bichvinta (Abkhazia) in 1982. Liana’s major desire was to bring back the festival to its initial location – to Bichvinta. We hope to be able to do so.

I am very thankful for our supporters and sponsors. At the end of the concert, with the initiative of the German Ambassador to Georgia Hubert Knirsch, I had a chance to have a talk with him about a very painful topic of Abkhazia and the festival’s future. Hubert Knirsch noted that this issue is of utmost importance for our German partners.

- It is well-known to us, that various pieces have been created for the festival throughout the years. Which pieces premiered in 2021?

- Indeed, several compositions and pieces have been created for the festival throughout the years (by Giorgi Shaverzashvili, Sandro Nebieridze, and others).

This year, the premiere of Sandro Nebieridze’s - Fantasy on Zakaria Paliashvili Opera Themes took place on November 21. The theme was created especially for the festival, by my request.

Great composer and conductor, Vakhtang Matchavariani’s - Dedication to Ludwig Van B for String was performed for the 1st time. It can be considered as a kaleidoscope of Beethoven’s all nine symphonies, a modern conversation with Beethoven.

Maestro Nikoloz Rachveli’s piece was premiered live in Batumi, performed by Mario Stefano Pietrodarchi. The concert was finalized by this piece, dedicated to the Italian people and Mario Stefano Pietrodarchi. Singer Sopho Khalvashi also performed at the concert held in Batumi.

Nikoloz Rachveli highlighted that regardless of the tough pandemic reality, this year’s festival was held successfully. He mentioned that this festival is very special to him because it is connected to Abkhazia.

-As you mentioned, due to COVID-19, it has been difficult to invite international artists, but you still managed to. Tell us about these artists.

- Sabine Grofmeier, one of the world’s famous and amazing clarinetists, performed in Tbilisi. She performed Mozart’s concert and other interesting pieces. As soon as one hears her playing, one can recognize the European sound. The Western school of woodwind instruments is very different from the Russian school, which is connected to Georgia as well. The Western traditional sound is refined, exquisite, and subtle.

Mario Stefano Pietrodarchi is a phenomenal Italian accordion and bandoneon player. Pietrodarchi has given concerts all over the world, including across Europe as well as in Canada, China, and Korea. He was also a guest at festivals such as the 2006 Montreal Jazz Festival and 2008 the Sanremo Festival. As mentioned above, Mario Stefano Pietrodarchi performed along with Nikoloz Rachveli; as usual, he astonished the audience, as if his sounds were from another universe.

-What were the festival’s innovations and special activities in 2021?

- This year, we have expanded our activities, by offering Georgian students and schoolchildren a vast educational program.

A master class was held on November 2, where artist-designer Nino Mirianashvili visited the children with disabilities (18-25). Bridge beneficiaries were taught collage techniques.

On November 10, a master class of the wind instrument orchestra was held by Giorgi Shaverzashvili, Professor of Tbilisi State Conservatory and the Chairman of the Composers' Union.

Masterclasses were led by Vakhtang Matchavariani, Sabine Grofmeier, Mario Stefano Pietrodarchi, Giorgi Shaverzashvili, and Nino Khutsishvili.