This Weekend in St. Petersburg: January 26-27
Predominating this weekend’s program is the 75th anniversary of the lifting of the Siege of Leningrad, with a lot of events commemorating the big day. Here are some of them, with a couple of extras thrown in for good measure.
75th anniversary of the end of the Siege of Leningrad
Lasting for 872 days of devastation and horror (and, at the same time, of human bravery, compassion, and valor), the Siege of Leningrad is one of the longest and most destructive sieges in history, and a hardship our city will never forget. Commemorations are held every year, 2019 being no exception, with a range of events planned for January 27, the day when the siege finally ended. Here are some of them.
From January 25 to January 27, Italyanskaya and Malaya Sadovaya streets and Manezhnaya Square will turn into a full-scale reproduction of besieged Leningrad. The project is called ‘The Street of Life’ and will feature military equipment of the era. Ground-floor windows of buildings will be boarded up, walls will abound with maps, photographs and information posters, and the streets will be rife with sandbags, camouflage nets and anti-tank barriers, as per the custom of the time. Two big screens, set up especially for the project, will show wartime newsreels. Admission is free.
On the eve of the big day, January 26, there will be a ‘Remembering the Feat’ event hosted in the Park of the 300th Anniversary of St. Petersburg. Participants will light 900 candles, each paying tribute to one day endured under the siege, and observe a minute of silence honoring the women and men that kept the city, and the country, going. This will be part of a larger program that also includes a music concert and a recital of war-time poems.
At 10am on January 27, a special military parade will commence from the Palace Square, as part of which 2,500 soldiers will march through the city center wearing WWII uniforms. The parade will also feature wartime military equipment and artillery. After its conclusion, Palace Square will be filled with sounds of an orchestra playing wartime songs, and there will be a field kitchen offering WWII meals.
7pm will mark the start of a multimedia show with the General Staff building serving as a main screen. The interactive performance will feature a bespoke musical score glued together from archive recordings of the Radio House, which include wartime chronicles, announcements by a famous newscaster Yury Levitan, speeches and poems by an eminent poet Olga Bergholz, an iconic performance of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7 in C major (Leningrad Symphony), and sounds of the city at the moment of the historic January 27, 1944 fireworks.
January 27, 2019 will also end with celebratory fireworks, starting at 9pm and launched from the Peter and Paul Fortress walls.
Doing their bit to commemorate the event, St. Petersburg’s movie theaters will screen WWII-themed films. Saving Leningrad (Спасти Лениград), a recent work by Alexey Kozlov, will be screened at the Aurora movie theater on January 27, starting from 10am, 12.20pm, and 3.40 pm, with tickets costing 100 rubles. The Rodina movie theater will offer free screenings of A Route to Immortality (Коридор бессмертия, starting at 5pm on January 26), and A Scream of Silence (Крик тишины, starting at 3pm on January 27). A range of St. Petersburg museums will put on special exhibitions. The Museum of Bread’s ‘Bread of Besieged City’ will run until March 2 (tickets cost 200 rubles), the Bolshoi State Circus’s ‘Through the Veil of Time’ will be a one-day event looking back at the life of the circus and its artists during the war years (free admission), and the House of Culture’s interactive exhibition ‘900 Days of Bravery’ will run until February 15 (free admission).
Finally, the incomparable St. Petersburg Concert Choir will present a special concert program at the St. Isaac’s Cathedral (by the way, you can learn more about this epitome of the Empire architectural style in this article by our knowledgeable ITMO.NEWS architecture expert). The concert will start at 7pm on January 27 and include musical pieces by Robert Schumann, Rodion Shchedrin, Vladimir Vysotsky, and Vasily Solovyov-Sedoi. These will be accompanied by poems by Anna Akhmatova, Olga Bergholz, and Boris Pasternak, recited by a distinguished actor Vitaly Gordienko. Free admission.
Held in Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace, another architectural masterpiece masterfully decoded here, on January 27 will be another in a series of musical concerts aimed at presenting a snapshot of a specific time and place in the musical history. This time, renowned Russian musicians and singers will revisit chef-d’oeuvres of the Russian composition school. The concert starts at 6pm, tickets cost 650 rubles and can be purchased here.
January 27 will also be the closing day of the exhibition dedicated to the grand library of the State Hermitage Museum. The many noteworthy items on display include over 180 books that trace back to the library’s post-1917 history, including the persecution of the library staff and even the purging of books themselves, the difficult wartime years, the Khrushchev Thaw and the tumultuous 1990s. Tickets start at 300 rubles.