The Belfast Festival is the ideal context for events which we would be unlikely to experience at any other time of the year.
Over the next two weeks there are a number of classical music events and tonight’s opening concert is the most exciting of them all.
In Northern Ireland, we can scarcely afford an orchestra of our own; spending money on visiting orchestras is usually unthinkable. Tonight the festival brings us the famous Mariinksy Orchestra from St Petersburg, formerly the Kirov Orchestra (the name changed in 1991 after the communists fell from power, reverting back to the original 19th century appellation).
To hear this orchestra in Belfast playing one of the most iconic symphonies of the 20th century — Shostakovich’s Seventh — and one so inextricably linked to the city of St Petersburg/Leningrad is a unique opportunity which should not be easily passed over.
To have Valery Gergiev , one of the world’s top conductors, here and conducting his own orchestra should make this opening concert totally unmissable.
If you consider yourself a classical music aficionado, you will have to be at the Waterfront Hall tonight at 8pm.