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Preparations for the first ever Tsinandali International Festival of Classical Music are gathering pace. As spring arrives, anticipation is building amongst those involved, as they prepare to welcome an array of the world’s finest classical musicians. But I am particularly excited to see the inaugural Pan-Caucasian Youth Symphony Orchestra play, in an initiative which will put the region’s finest musicians centre stage.

Auditions are now well underway for the new youth orchestra, which will draw together musical talent from across Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Turkey and the Caucasus region. Last week saw the Kazakhstan leg of auditions, which proved to be the biggest yet. Budding musicians from across Kazakhstan, and even Russia, were in attendance.

More than sixty candidates, all aged between 18 and 28, auditioned in front of a remarkable panel of musical experts, including my friend and renowned Kazakh composer, Yerkesh Shakeyev, as well as Tsinandali’s assistant music director Claudio Vandelli and professors from the National Conservatory.

Both Yerkesh and Claudio have told me how impressed they were by the standard of musical talent on show. I do not envy the decision they have to make, but I wait with anticipation to see which musicians are awarded this opportunity.
I am grateful to Yerkesh and Claudio and all those at the Kazakh National Conservatory who helped to organise the Almaty audition. I am certain that in years to come we will look back at this new Pan-Caucasian Youth Symphony Orchestra as the moment when stars were born.