By Lawrence Budmen

A week long residency by the Russian National Orchestra, perhaps Russia’s finest ensemble, will be the centerpiece of the Boca Raton Festival of the Arts. On March 1-11 the Center for the Arts at Mizner Park will resound with music making by some of the world’s most legendary artists. Lectures, art exhibits, and music films will also hold sway at the biggest cultural event in the history of Boca Raton. Produced by the City of Boca Raton in association with IMG Artists (one of the world’s largest artist management firms), the Festival follows up on the success of the Festival del Sol, presented in Tuscany, Italy and Napa Valley, California by IMG Artists.

Attorney and urban planner Charles Siemon (of Siemon and Larsen, P.A.), the Festival’s chairman, sees the event as a spring board to a new image for the city. “We wanted a festival model like Aspen that features great artists, helps give the downtown area greater significance, elevates the stature of Boca Raton, and includes an important educational component,” said Siemon. “Ultimately this Festival will rebrand Boca Raton as a cultural destination.” 

Most of the events will be presented at the Mizner Park Amphitheater. In the event of inclement weather, a portable tent covering will turn the amphitheater into an indoor pavilion. Siemon noted that the Festival “will reach out to several generations. We intend to connect (through masterclasses and student tickets) with students at Lynn University and Florida Atlantic University. This entire project is about our community’s cultural identity and character.” 

The Festival’s opening concert on March 2 features Teodor Currentzis leading the Russian National Orchestra with baritone Dimitri Hvorostovsky, one of the opera world’s greatest stars, as soloist. Hvorostovsky has emblazoned opera stages from New York’s Metropolitan Opera to La Scala, Covent Garden, the Vienna Staatsoper, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and St. Petersburg’s Kirov Opera.

On March 3 renowned playwright and multiple Tony Award winner Edward Albee makes an exclusive Florida lecture appearance.

The Russian National Orchestra returns on March 4 with its Principal Conductor Vladimir Jurowski on the podium. One of the world’s rising podium stars, Jurowski has recently been appointed to succeed Kurt Masur as Principal Conductor of the London Philharmonic. Virtuoso pianist Yefim Bronfman is guest soloist.

Best selling author and former New York Times columnist Anna Quindlen speaks on March 5.

A new art exhibition is scheduled to open at the Boca Raton Art Museum on March 6. That evening the distinguished flutist Sir James Galway and his wife and flute duo partner Lady Jeanne Galway will be joined by the Boca Raton Philharmonic Symphonia for an evening of Galway Gold. 

On March 7 Jurowski and the Moscow based ensemble return featuring not one but two stellar soloists – cellist Nina Kotova and pianist Helene Grimaud – both renowned for their best selling, award winning recordings.

On March 8 a change of pace heralds the red hot sounds of the Yellow Jackets Jazz Quartet. Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, this popular group has been a mainstay on the Heads-Up jazz label.

Jurowski and the Russian National Orchestra conclude their Festival residency on March 10 with one of classical music’s true superstars (and legends) – violinist Itzhak Perlman. 

The Festival concludes with an evening of swinging jazz with Miami’s own Arturo Sandoval and Tiempo Libre with the Boca Raton Philharmonic Symphonia. Dancing on the green at Mizner Park will bring the event to a joyous conclusion.

In addition, screenings of three films with music related themes are scheduled – The Pianist (March 6), The Cotton Club (March 8), and The Red Violin (March 9).

The Boca Raton Festival of the Arts promises to be one of the most exciting events of the South Florida cultural season and a boon to the arts in southern Palm Beach County. 

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