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by Dr Natalia Kolosova

The Jubilee Charity Ball of the Eurolog UK Association and the London School of Russian Language and Literature took place on Saturday, 1 July 2017 at the stunning Drapers’ Hall in the City of London. The ball was dedicated to the twentieth anniversary of the first Russian school in the United Kingdom, which has influenced the lives of several generations of children who have been given the opportunity to study not only the Russian language but also to learn about the history and culture of the great country.

The historic venue with its elaborate interiors opened its doors to the best representatives of Russian and British circles in the UK, which included artists, musicians, actors, and businessmen. Apart from famous people, such as Archbishop Elisey of Surozh, the royal portrait painter Sergey Pavlenko, People’s Artist of Russia Elena Shcherbakova - the Artistic Director of Igor Moiseyev Ballet group, and the Deputy Mayor of Kensington and Chelsea Gerard Hargreaves, the parents and teachers at the school were among the most prominent guests at the ball.

Upon entering, the guests were welcomed with a glass of champagne and enjoyed an exhibition of works by the talented young artist Philip Firsov held in the foyer. After spending time in the reception room with its fine examples of painting, including a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, everyone was invited to admire the art of some wonderful musicians, accompanied by the British Imperial Orchestra under its conductor, Dr Graham Jones.

The concert opened with the orchestra’s playing of Christopher Arkhill’s “Ballet Russe Overture”, which gave the evening a magnificent start. Evgeniy Kungurov, a bariton and star host of the Russian Culture TV channel and the soprano Yilia Snezhina acted as comperes for the first part of the concert and also sang in it. Kungurov’s expressive and passionate performance of the Toreador’s Couplets from Bizet’s Carmen was among the favourites with the audience. One of the most impressive singers at the ball was soprano Maria Veretenina, the winner of the Grand Prix at the International Russian Song Festival. She sang Olympia’s Doll Aria from Offenbach’s opera, “The Tales of Hoffman”, with great vocal technique and artistry. She performed like a real doll with its jerky, mechanical movements, and Dr Jones joined in the humour of her rendition.

Other performances included Musetta’s Aria by Puccini, sung by soprano Olga Adamovich, and Giuditta’s Aria by Lehar, sung by soprano Irina Tutt, both to the accompaniment of the pianist and tutor Victoria Savelyeva. The concert was well-balanced in its content, and all the singers showed great professionalism. The famous actress Regina Myannik performed a passionate poem by the celebrated Russian poet Alexander Blok. At the end of the first part the orchestra performed “Farewell of Slavyanka”, in memory of the deceased members of the Alexandrov Choir and their director Valery Khalilov, as the audience rose to their feet.

During the dinner which followed, the company Lots4Charity held a “silent auction” in aid of the charity Eurolog UK.

The second part of the concert was compered by the English actor and model Tommy Viles. There was further singing from the soprano Maria Veretenina and baritone Evgeniy Kungurov, as well as from the tenor Alexander Naumenko. The audience was truly touched by the emotional duet of the tenor Evgeniy Yuzhin and soprano Yulia Snezhina, who performed “Eternal Love” (“Une Vie d’Amour”) by Charles Aznavour.

Later in the evening the guests moved to the ballroom, where they enjoyed a performance by the Moiseyev Ballet Group. The Argentinian dance Gaucho, performed by Evgeniy Chernishkov, Andrey Artamonov and Alexander Tikhonov, gave a fiery start to the dance part of the evening. They were followed by a vigorous Argentinian tango, performed by Anastasiya Sorokina and Kiril Kochubey. The mime from St. Petersburg Igor Lamba presented an intense and philosophical pantomime, “The Hunt”.

The guests then joined in dancing to the music of the orchestra led by the wonderful Dr Graham Jones, which performed Strauss’s most famous waltzes. Later on the dance master of the Imperial Ball, Stuart Marsden, led the guests in the quadrille.

Throughout the evening people were warmly socialising, exchanging contacts and making new friends. The ball proved to serve the main purpose of the London School of Russian Language and Literature and the Eurolog UK Association: to unite Russian and British society and to promote Russian language and culture.

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