Last weekend, the White Nights of St. Petersburg International Music Festival completed its spectacular three-day marathon. Over the course of three full days - 13, 14, and 15 June - the Ice Palace stage featured performances by contestants from 12 countries, as well as some of the brightest stars of the music world. For the seventh time, the Festival has proven that it is the only world-class musical event of its kind in Russia.
This year, a number of music legends came to Russia for the first time ever to appear at the White Nights of St. Petersburg, including Bob Geldof, The Jacksons, and Susan Boyle. The Festival reached new heights with performances from renowned artists such as Nelly, Mario, Zucchero, and Earth, Wind and Fire. Even in Europe, it is rare to see so many top-notch performers on one stage. In Russia, only the White Nights of St. Petersburg offers such a line-up!
In 2013, the Festival was more spectacular than ever and was shared with the whole country:
a broadcast on Channel One allowed a million Russians to enjoy the performances of top stars and to follow the intrigues of the competition. Contestants from around the world performed original songs, and showed their talent through their interpretations of international pop hits, often in unconventional and interesting arrangements.
In contrast with many other competitions, the winners were chosen by a competent and professional jury based not only on vocal abilities, but also on artistic sensibility and interpretation, whether performing original songs or international hits. The jury consisted of an all-star cast: Paula Abdul, Sarah Connor, and Loredana Bertè, headed up by 77-year-old Engelbert Humperdinck.
The Festival Grand Prize went to Peruvian hard rock band Contracorriente, while first place - along with the Audience Choice Award based on the results of text and Internet voting - went to Russian band Boycott. These acts have proved that it is not just pop music that wins the hearts of the audience, but passionate, heavy rock too! Second place went to Algerian singer Momo Djender, while third prize was awarded to the band Cosmo Soul (Portugal/Spain).
The Festival was hosted by Elena Sever, Julia Kovalchuk, UrKiss, and Dmitry Shepelev. UrKiss, who was the opening act at last year's Festival, brought some special celebrity guests to the Ice Palace stage this year. He had recently met his Canadian counterpart, popular teen idol Justin Bieber. As a host of the event and one of its organizers, the young singer from St. Petersburg invited Bieber to return to Russia for the White Nights festival. Bieber promised to think about it, but in the end was unable to make it due to his tightly packed tour schedule. Nonetheless, he passed on the enticing invitation to his friends, Nelly and Mario. So thanks to our own 'northern star', we were able to see live performances by these American artists at the White Nights of St. Petersburg festival.
At a press conference to mark the opening of the White Nights of St. Petersburg International Music Festival, headline acts Nelly, Mario, and UrKiss presented the Festival line-up and talked about the latest news and expectations. Among the key topics discussed in the meeting with reporters were the theme of fostering talent and the question of why the Americans had decided to get involved with this particular festival. UrKiss was asked a number of questions about his own musical career. "At this festival I will perform two songs: a new track called Armani, and my debut single, Zvon, which gets more popular every day", announced the singer.
The Festival's visual effects have set a precedent for dazzling spectators. During the Festival, the Ice Palace shines with all of the romance and exquisite beauty of St. Petersburg's white nights. On the spectacular stage, with its huge screens, stands an impressively large raised bridge: a symbol of our city during the most romantic time of the year. The sound and light effects were stunning enough to delight even the most sophisticated viewers.
The Festival continues to honour its traditions and to uphold its charitable mission. While tickets to the event were sold to the general public, students of St. Petersburg's music schools and children from the city's orphanages were able to attend for free. For the Festival's organizers, it is important to increase awareness among young people of the image of the city and the country as a capital of musical culture. It is for precisely this reason that the luminous festivities of sound, youth, and white nights have found their home in St. Petersburg.
Three star-filled evenings and an endless stream of music seduced the audience at the Ice Palace and captured the attention of a million viewers at home! Music lovers of all generations were delighted by the experience and are already looking forward to next year, and the next edition of the White Nights of St. Petersburg International Music Festival!