"LADY IN RED" by Natalia VyatkinaIn 1999 Conductor Lygia O’Riordan decided to bring her orchestra, Ensemble XXI Moscow back to her homeland after a 6 year absence. And thus began the festival “Russian Music Days in Dublin”.

Support from all sections of Irish society ensured that this was indeed an event in the annual Irish cultural calendar. Patron Alan Dukes, T.D. former Justice Minister and member of Ensemble XXI’s board hosted the concert in Dublin Castle that opened the festival. As always the orchestra looked forward to its Irish experience although merriment on the flight was checked by the fact that the first concert would take place that evening.

On arrival at Dublin airport all went smoothly until someone opened one of the minivan’s back doors and the cello of the deputy bass group concertmaster went flying onto the tarmac. Conductor Lygia O’Riordan’s barrister brother, a veteran of Ensemble XXI Moscow disasters was dispatched in high gear to a cellist friend of Lygia’s in Dun Laoighre for an instrument to save the opening concert. As the public queued outside for tickets the instrument was whisked by them for a last minute emergency rehearsal

As luck had it the instrument was excellent and the show went on without further ado. The programme included Vivaldi’s concerto in g, excerpts from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet Ballet Suite arranged by Barshai, Stravinsky’s Apollo Ballet and Khachaturian’s waltz after Lermontov’s Maskarade...