It's All for Our Children

East site on Oktyabrsky Island

On February 17, representatives of local and city administrations and chief editors of Kaliningrad municipal newspapers visited the branches of the Moscow Central School of Music — Academy of Performing Arts “Baltiysky” and Moscow State Academy of Choreography in Kaliningrad, located on Oktyabrsky Island. The main aim was to introduce the best institutions that represent the brand of academic education in the field of music, performance and dance, and to make everyone in the region aware of the new training opportunities in the newspapers.

The meeting started a little bit later than planned as dense fog (10 m visibility) covered Kaliningrad. As the guests came from the region's districts, they simply could not navigate their way around the clues: overpass bridge, construction site and stadium were all engulfed by fog. Almost everyone recalled the famous Soviet cartoon about the hedgehog in the fog. Despite the short quest “Find 27 Solnechny Boulevard”, the guests were in high spirits and listened to the speakers with great interest.


Participants listen to the speakers


Participants in concert hall of the Baltic Branch of the Central School of Music — Academy of the Performing Arts 

Mikhail Viktorovich Kozlov, Technical Director of STG-Zapad, described the way it all started: “The need for four cultural and educational complexes in the cities of Vladivostok, Kemerovo, Kaliningrad and Sevastopol was outlined by Vladimir Putin, the President of the Russian Federation, in his 2018 Address to the Federal Assembly. The concept was later elaborated and established in the Decree “On National Objectives and Strategic Goals of the Development of the Russian Federation till 2024”. It is a unique project. Both in scale and in the issues it addresses. Cultural and educational complexes of this kind have never been built at the same time anywhere in the world. For the first time in Russian history, four opera houses will be opened almost simultaneously in different parts of the country."

Construction of the Cultural and Educational Complex in Kaliningrad is being carried out by Stroytransgaz Group as commissioned by the National Cultural Heritage Foundation for Social and Cultural Projects (Foundation donors: Mariinsky Theatre, State Hermitage Museum, Tretyakov Gallery, Bolshoi Theatre). GORKA Group, a local designer, is adapting the designs of the complexes to domestic codes and regulations on engineering.

The first building of the educational part of the complex on Oktyabrsky Island for the Baltic Branch of the Central School of Music — Academy of Performing Arts with a boarding school was commissioned in 2021. Building of the Branch of the Moscow State Academy of Choreography with a boarding school was commissioned in January 2022.

The complex was erected on a turnkey basis, i.e. not just the walls but also the entire finishing and furnishing. The children were provided with comfortable conditions both for studying at the highest level and for living in boarding schools.
The cluster has an elaborate infrastructure. The new buildings have custom design. They are interconnected by heated galleries. Students can move around the entire educational complex without going outside. All equipment in training and concert halls is top-class and manufactured by the leading global and Russian producers. Besides quality, great attention was also paid to safety, when selecting the equipment. Stage dressing, audience seat upholstery and wall finishing are made of non-combustible materials. The stage for future ballet dancers was assembled using special anti-slip flooring with damping underlay to avoid injury.
Comprehensive school with a swimming pool was commissioned together with the branch of the Central School of Music, so that children could receive both professional and general education at the same time. There are comfortable classrooms, laboratories, a medical centre, gym and fitness facilities, a swimming pool and a library for successful studies. The complex is fully compliant with the best international standards and in many respects even surpasses many renowned schools with similar profile.

During his speech, Mikhail Viktorovich spoke about construction of branches of the Tretyakov Gallery and the Bolshoi Theatre, as well as the Baltic Higher School of Music and Dramatic Arts at the West site of Oktyabrsky Island.
One of the questions journalists raised more than once concerned the island soils. Due to the boggy terrain, this area had never been considered for such large-scale development. Not only residents of Kaliningrad, but also those in the region's districts are concerned about durability of the buildings. Mikhail Kozlov assured that the complex is built on consolidated subsoil, so there are no risks or concerns about stability and safety of the structures.

Larisa Vladimirovna Volkova, the Head of the Baltic Branch of the Central School of Music — Academy of Performing Arts, spoke about it. The main aim of the branch is to foster top-class musicians. To achieve this objective, there is a procedure for the identification, competitive selection, early professional guidance and development of musically gifted children of Kaliningrad Region and other constituent entities of the Russian Federation. In total, 150 young musicians are expected to study at the Branch of the Central School of Music — Academy of Performing Arts.


Performance by students of the Branch of the Central School of Music — Academy of Performing Arts in the new concert hall

“We are particularly proud that Kaliningrad was the first to host the Branch of the Central School of Music — Academy of Performing Arts out of four educational complexes,- Larisa Vladimirovna said. -Today our children have been studying the performing arts in the new building for over a year, since November 2021. It should be noted that after receiving general secondary education, the graduates do not have to take Unified State Exam, as at the end of 11th grade they already receive Diploma of Secondary Professional Education and are eligible to play in orchestras and to teach in the art schools for children. In March 2022, the Branch of the Central School of Music — Academy of Performing Arts received a licence for educational activities as per higher education programme Art of Concert Performance with the following post-graduate qualifications: concert performer and teacher. Leading Moscow professors have rated our students at the highest level of excellence. It is not necessary for students and the committee to be in the same room. For example, for piano students, this is achieved through the technical platform and Yamaha pianos with pre-installed Disklavier system, which are located in Moscow and Kaliningrad Branch. The instruments equipped with this unique system, combined with visual remote technology, create the ideal conditions for performance analysis, test auditions, examinations, and even concerts, regardless of distances and barriers."

The main questions to Larisa Vladimirovna Volkova concerned organisational issues: What level of instrumental proficiency is required for school admission? Is it possible to study from grade 1? Do the children study on a state-financed basis?

While responding, Larisa Vladimirovna underlined that a child can have excellent skills even if no one in the family is involved in music. Competitive selection allows the tutors to see the child's potential at glance. Children can start their education (general and musical) at the Branch of the Central School of Music — Academy of Performing Arts from grade 1, and they can enrol in any grade, from grade 1 to grade 8. Education in the Branch of the Central School of Music — Academy of Performing Arts is state-financed. Parents pay only for meals of children in grades 5 to 11 - for those living in a boarding school the fee is for five meals a day. Currently, they are considering allowing children (grades 1-4) from other towns to stay with their parents or grandparents in the apartment block built as a part of the project and intended primarily for teachers and artists of the cultural and educational complex.

Artyom Mikhailovich Shpilevsky, a distinguished ballet dancer, who has long been a leading soloist at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow and now heads Kaliningrad Branch of the Moscow State Academy of Choreography, also spoke on the opportunities for children from the region to enrol and succeed in their studies.


Students of Kaliningrad Branch of the Moscow State Academy of Choreography

Two pre-professional programmes are offered for children. The first programme, Fundamentals of Choreography, is intended for children entering the first year of general upper secondary school and lasts four years. It includes special disciplines, including classical dance, rhythmics, dance sketches and a number of optional subjects. The programme is structured so that the children's development proceeds smoothly.
To prepare children aged 8-9 for potential entry into the nearly eight-year secondary professional education programme, there is the second additional programme, The Art of Ballet. It includes one year of general training.

It is certainly easier for children having completed the pre-professional programme to enrol in a professional training programme Art of Ballet, which is integrated with the programmes of basic general and secondary education and lasts in total for 7 years and 10 months.

The collegial panel, some of its members arrive in Kaliningrad from Moscow, reviews the children and impartially selects them by assigning grades based on various criteria. The best-performing children will be admitted to state-funded places. Depending on the programme, there are two or three stages of selection.

When asked by journalists whether Artyom Mikhailovich delivers the subjects personally, he replied: “My main task is to recognise a child's talents and assess his/her potential for success in school. We consider every application that we receive. But it is impossible to predict how talented a child is. If a child with strong profile starts in pre-professional training, we take him or her to reach the highest achievable level. The programmes we offer are based on many years of experience. We provide smooth development for the children. At first, the child's muscles and joints need to become as strong as possible. The body should be prepared for a later skill set. Our children have excellent teachers. All our teachers studied in Moscow or completed advanced courses there. We are now interested in finding appropriately qualified local specialists and raising the level of their educational expertise. I also think that our children have good prospects - Branch of the Bolshoi Theatre is under construction in Kaliningrad and the graduates of the Academy will undoubtedly be able to become its leading artists”.

The participants also received a tour around the educational complex, where they could see that everything was equipped at the highest level and in accordance with the latest requirements for educational institutions. The meeting concluded with a mini-concert by students of the Baltic Branch of the Central School of Music — Academy of the Performing Arts. The concert programme included works by Russian and foreign composers.

Elena Burova, Chair of the Association of Kaliningrad Region Municipal Newspapers“What we saw was a kind of art incubator. Where the small talent can grow and evolve into the great artist. And it is essential that here they benefit from everything: aesthetically pleasing surroundings, fine instruments, comfortable living conditions and professional teachers. And the great part is that now, gifted children, no matter where they live — in a small town or a village — they can get here. Here they can grow into real musicians and artists.”