Moscow’s a cappella festival gala concert – part of Moscow Seasons

As you may have already read, I was in Moscow recently for the second ‘Moscow Spring A Cappella‘ festival, an event put on by the Government of Moscow as ‘Moscow Seasons‘ to celebrate some of the best a cappella singers from around the world. And the grand finale for this 12-day singing extravaganza was a prestigious award ceremony held at the Ritz-Carlton, Moscow, which I was lucky enough to attend.

Inside, people were gathering over drinks, discussing performances and looking forward to the evening’s events, including a few singers I recognised from the previous day’s performances. This year’s festival saw 184 performers and groups take part from 16 countries, including the United Kingdom, Hungary, Germany, Georgia, Israel, India, Italy, Kazakhstan, China, Latvia, Portugal, Russia, the USA, Ukraine, France and South Korea.

Some were returning having taken part in last year’s event; among them were Opus Jam from France, last year’s winners of the Grand Prix. For entrants from Germany, Israel, India, China, Portugal and South Korea, it was their first time.

Whilst everyone was gathering over a drink, the final arrangements were being put in place in a neighbouring room. The stage was set…

…and camera crews were at the ready.

The crowd gathered to hear the announcement of the winners, as judged by a panel of Russian and foreign producers, performers, journalists and vocal teachers. In addition, performances could be scored by members of the public on the competition’s website and some 77,000 people voted online.

We met with Sergei Sobyanin, the Mayor of Moscow, just before the prize-giving ceremony was officially underway…

Russian TV presenter Julia Baranovskaya and actor Timur Soloviev were there to announce the winners.

And the winners of this year’s ‘Grand Prix’ – picking up 6.2 million roubles in prize money (around $100,000 / €84,000 euros / £80,000) – were the US group ‘Six Appeal’.

In the solo performance category, the first place was taken by Etnofreestyler (Russia, Surgut). Among the Small Vocal Groups, the first place was shared by The Alley Cats (USA) and Metro Vocal Group (USA/China). The first place in the Medium Vocal Group category also had two winners – Onair (Germany) and Fool Moon (Hungary) – as did the Large Vocal Group – The Buzztones (Great Britain) and Moscow Cossack Choir (Russia, Moscow).

10 vocal groups and sole participants received the Audience Award: Dmitry Nesterov (Russia, Moscow), Vladislav Goncharov (Russia, Moscow), Konstantin Grig (Russia, Moscow), Moscow Gospel Team (Russia, Moscow), student choir of the Crimean Engineering and Pedagogical University (Russia, Simferopol), Status (Russia, Krasnoyarsk), Uatsamongae – Chasha Nartov (Russia, Vladikavkaz), Wow Vocal Band (China), Acapella Band Raznye (Russia, Volgograd), A-cappella Apriori (Kazakhstan).

Following the prize-giving we ventured outside to enjoy the evening light. Nearby Red Square was not accessible as it was closed for Victory Day so we ambled around the outside walls of the Kremlin and were fortunate enough to see the changing of the guards.

The grounds around this area are beautifully maintained, with flowers in full bloom.

We walked by Saint Basil’s Cathedral, built in the 16th Century and one of the most iconic buildings in Moscow. It is in fact nine churches in one and is today recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Having walked right around the Kremlin and Red Square, we took a vantage point at the Four Seasons Hotel to capture a few images with the remaining light of the day. Although there was no amazing sunset, the light gave a magical glow over the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in the distance and the Historic State Museum in the foreground which served as a fitting end to a memorable evening.

Disclosure: My trip was sponsored by Moscow Seasons – a series of festivals held throughout the year in Moscow, with the support of the Government of Moscow.

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