I want to congratulate everyone on the New Year and merry Christmas! For me, these celebrations this year were especially touching, because I for the first time in 21 years, celebrated them at home in Irkutsk. Christmas meetings were warm in all respects.
For the first time on 31 December Irkutsk hosted a concert, especially the concert of such high level, with participation of stars of the Bolshoi ballet. Many of them arrived in Irkutsk literally for a day and a half to dance the most famous performances of «Swan Lake», «Don Quixote» and then immediately go on a European tour.
In the second part there was an unusual jazz concert. There were the famous musicians and young talents as well - absolutely unique team of Big-band of Irkutsk oblast children's school of arts. I also graduated from this school and played in this jazz band for a year. In 1988, being quite a young man, I together with this team for the first time went on tour abroad, to Bulgaria. The team is managed by a wonderful devotee of jazz art of Irkutsk Vladimir Romanenko. Musicians are children of 11-12 years-old. When I first heard them, they surprised me with a fantastic performance and teamwork. And now, after some time, it is safe to say that in Irkutsk grew a brilliant original children's orchestra. We will invite them to participate in our concerts and musical projects.
In short, it was a stunning musical evening, after which we traditionally celebrated and warmly welcomed the New year. And I, personally, again according to tradition, dipped in Baikal after the Siberian Banya those artists, who came to Irkutsk to take part in the concert for the first time.
In Irkutsk in addition to concerts Publishing house "Music"-"P. Jurgenson together with Banking group ZENIT continued the project, which we did in Novosibirsk before, they brought to Irkutsk a lot of printed music, as someone meticulous calculated, 1.5 tons of musical literature, for schools, colleges, libraries. This is the perfect gift for Christmas!
Then there were Christmas concerts, including my recital with the programme, that this month will be performed in many parts of the world, including Khabarovsk, Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Vladivostok, then Europe, and at the concert in Carnegie Hall, crowning the January tour.
I would like to say a few words about the action that's going on right now.
Flood in the Far East in the summer of 2013 was a terrible tragedy for the whole country. The tragedy that was impossible to foresee, to predict and prevent. A huge number of people were left homeless, the consequences of the disaster are still being felt. There is no Russian citizen, who remained indifferent to what happened.
Right now I am in the train «Khabarovsk - Komsomolsk-on-Amur» and wish to share my impressions from the first concert, the meetings with people, the meeting with the Governor, who told me about what happened here during the flood and after the flood during elimination of its consequences, how the inhabitants of the region faced of a common trouble. I think that the most important thing is that during the tragedy and after it, no one died, this is unbelievable, given the scale of the catastrophe and the element of surprise. And this is a big achievement of operative actions of the MOE and the united efforts of the local population.
I am impressed by the deed of the President, who came to the Far East on the eve of the New year to talk to the people here and check on the progress of restoration of the destroyed, and then spoke with a new year address to the country not from Moscow as usually, but from the Far East. This is a great deed.
People here are awesome, I talked to many of them after the concert, which became part of a whole series of charity performances in the Far East. I had only 4 days when I could just relax at home in Irkutsk, but I realized that this was the only chance for me to come here this year because of the very tight concert schedule. Moreover, Khabarovsk is relatively not far from Irkutsk. And so I decided to go. Now, after the concert in Khabarovsk, I'm heading to the Komsomolsk-on-Amur, where I was 20 years ago for the last time.
I think you remember that this autumn in Moscow I gave a charity concert «Help, Primorsky Krai». Then I remembered that my first tour there was exactly 20 years ago^ I visited Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Khabarovsk, Vladivostok, Magadan, and others. Then I came to the Far East again, but I have not been to Komsomolsk-on-Amur for 20 years. I'm looking forward to this meeting, because I got letters from people who remembered my first visit and performance in this city. That is very touching indeed.
The management of the company Bosco, knowing that I had planned these concerts, also decided to join the campaign: now I am carrying Olympic sport uniforms for the flood victims. And later another party will be delivered, too.
I am deeply convinced that classical music soothes, comforts and heals. And this is my contribution to our common task to overcome the difficult situation we face in the Far East. People, living in a state of permanent stress, under the pressure of terrible news, inside the tragedy, need distraction, positive emotions and good energy, which classical music gives. So I'm extremely happy that I managed to get there.
And now we are on the train, the frost on the street is -35, but kindness, sincerity and friendliness with which we are met in the Far East, warm and inspire.
Tomorrow I have a concert in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, then in Vladivostok, in the newly-built theatre. Anxiously wait for it!
I congratulate all on the New Year and wish you a Merry Christmas!