Plugging in your iPod and turning on music can be world-transforming. Muscovites on the eve of National Unity Day did not need headphones to be surrounded by sound, however, as Moscow's first Night of the Arts filled the city's streets, parks and museums with music.
Sunday's festival, focused around the theme of "Sounds and Voice of the Big City," combined a handful of preexisting festivals and brought most of Moscow's art scene players into one citywide night sponsored by the Culture Ministry. The Night of Music, Night in the Park, Night at the Theater and Library Night festivals have proved popular before, but Night of the Arts saw an increase in scale, with special bus services connecting more than 150 different institutions throughout the capital.
Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky began his night at the Russian State Library at 6 p.m. and said the ministry planned to hold the event annually at the beginning of November, Moskovsky Komsomolets reported.
A damp day led most Muscovites inside, where a host of museums and theaters allowed the public in free of charge. The Stanislavsky Nemirovich-Danchenko saw a line forming down Ulitsa Bolshaya Dmitrovka more than an hour before a pair of short concerts featuring the theater's soloists singing classic pop songs from the U.S. and Europe. The Flacon Design Center held an experimental music festival from the international independent music organization Un-Convention. Visual art institutions also kept in step with the auditory theme of the night, like the State Tretyakov Gallery on Krymsky Val, which accompanied its early-20th century exhibits of Natalia Goncharova and Piet Mondrian with jazz music.
But Sunday's sounds spilled out onto the streets as well. The bells of several churches drowned out the hum and clatter of nearby train stations with an extended performance at 8 p.m. while contemporary singers' and authors' voices sang the time every 15 minutes on Red Square. The event put in extra effort to be part of ordinary pedestrians' evenings, installing a series of trash bag-wrapped speakers at different points so passersby could hear the music of Vladimir Vysotsky near his monument on Strastnoi Bulvar or quotations from the first chapter of of Mikhail Bulgakov's "Master and Margarita" at Patriarch's Ponds.
Around midnight, however, the immersive sounds of Moscow's cultural night began fading into the normal rush of passing cars and drizzling rain, and Medinsky said he hoped those who stayed out to the evening's end could relax on Monday's day off.