Batumi Music Fest: First Georgian Festival under UNESCO Patronage

Founded by famous Georgian pianist Elisso Bolkvadze, who became UNESCO’s Artist for Peace in 2015, the Batumi Music Fest, member of the European Festivals Association (EFA), will kick off on September 2, running till September 8 at the Batumi Music Center Concert Hall.

In its fifth year of existence, Batumi Music Fest promises to be one of the major cultural events this autumn.

Back in 2013, when Elisso Bolkvadze came up with the idea of creating a classical music festival, she thought its concept would be somewhat similar to other musical festivals that already existed, bringing international artists to Georgia. But when she received the UNESCO Artist for Peace status, she decided that with new responsibilities and functions added as UNESCO Ambassador, she would change the focus of the Batumi Music Fest.

“I knew that the Batumi Music Fest would be an excellent platform to promote the ideas of cultural diplomacy and the role of culture, and music in the peace building process. For Batumi Art Fest, being under UNESCO patronage is both prestigious and significant,” she told GEORGIA TODAY in an interview.

“I decided to bring more of an educational focus to the festival, paying particular attention to discovery, assistance and the promotion of emerging new musical talent,” she said.

Although the festival has already hosted a number of legendary pianists, for Elisso Bolkvadze, supporting those who are about to enter the scene is her number one priority. Add to that the fact that carrying UNESCO’s Artist for Peace status means she advocates UNESCO themes and values at the festival, one of them being helping children from conflict zones and those affected by war.

“Since we have the fifth anniversary of the Batumi Music Fest this year, I decided to add another original theme to it, and we’re going to have a contest, to be financed by the international SOS Talent Foundation, with its president Michael Sogny himself coming to the festival. It’s not a huge contest; we just want to find talented children of ages 7, 10 and 14 that we could possibly support in their future careers. The contestants will not be judged by how they play, rather we’ll be evaluating their potential, and Michel Sogny will be in the jury, together with two music pedagogues from Batumi and Giorgi Korkadze from Tbilisi with whom we actively cooperate.” Elisso says.

Apart from monetary prizes, which, according to Bolkvadze, will be quite high, winners of the contest will hold a concert at TBC Gallery, supporter of the master classes to be given to children during the Batumi Music Fest.

“TBC Bank has always been very supportive,” Bolkvadze says.

Yet another novelty of the Batumi Music Fest this year is that, with financial assistance from the Ministry of Education and Science, an art camp is to be organized, seeing almost 300 children from all the regions of Georgia able to attend master classes and trainings during the festival.

“Imagine, almost 300 children coming to Batumi from all the regions. The Ministry of Education and Science is fully covering their stay, in partnership with the Batumi Music Festival, and while in Batumi these children will have two trainings and will attend a concert. They are not musicians, though, and with the art camp like this one we attempt to raise their awareness and I’m deeply grateful to Aleksandre Jejelava for supporting this initiative of mine. For me, this is something really important and big; I think it’s the best I can do for my country, planting those tiny seeds in these children that will blossom some day in the future,” Bolkvadze told us.

“It takes a lot of energy, time and effort to be in charge of organizing such a massive event as Batumi Music Fest, and there were many challenges that needed thinking through from the beginning. But it brings so much to me personally; the new encounters with extraordinary people, the knowledge. It’s inspiring to know you’re doing something important and valuable for your country which brings you so much satisfaction. The most important thing is that our festival has huge potential for development in the future, and for keeping its word,” she concluded.

The festival Batumi Music Fest is organized with the financial support of Ministry of Culture of Georgia, and the Ministry of Culture of Adjara.

Elisso Bolkvadze also runs a charity foundation ‘Lyra,’ supporting aspiring young pianists.

For outstanding contribution to the development of culture and personal commitment to cultural exchanges between France and Georgia, Elisso Bolkvadze received the distinction of Chevalier des Arts et Lettres from the French Republic.

Nino Gugunishvili

10 August 2017 18:38