It is common to see street musicians in St Petersburg. Here is one we see often playing in a number of areas of the city center over the last 10-12 years. This is Uncle Misha (Dyadya Misha). I spotted him most recently as a slight snow was beginning to fall, on Nevsky Prospect, the main street of the city, with Kazan Cathedral in the background. Two things you would notice first, he plays a trumpet and he always finds a high perch or raised spot to stand allowing him to project great distances. He plays a wide range of music from popular hits, classics jazz, and claims to know all the national anthems of countries of those visiting. He has an interesting history, having played in a number of countries including USA, France, Italy, Germany, Norway, Sweden and others, claims to know 11,000 songs, and speaks English, Russian, French and Finnish, and is a bit of a showman who enjoys interacting with crowds that gather. On this day few people were on the sidewalk and it was just below freezing temperatures. As a fixture in the street scene, he is greeted by kids and adults with handshakes and well wishes. Recognize any of the melodies?
I often answer questions on Trip Advisor as there first and now only Destination Expert for St Petersburg and a frequent question is where there is anything to do in the city besides museums, I wrote that “yes, there is”.
Combining that frequent question with a current FB thread on St Petersburg Insider page, In a thread about concert and opera theaters, I figured I would combine topics with about to write on music venues and vocal performance venues. There are many popular classical and general music theaters but one that seldom is talked about by visitors is Mariinsky Concert All. The original ornate Mariinsky Theater and the modern next door neighbor gigantic music and opera theater, and productions, training, and media center, the 2000 seat Mariinsky II are well known. Mariinsky II is probably the largest acoustically tuned/optimized venue in the world, with 2200 regular seating and 3000 in some configurations. The building is a small city of performing arts and 2000 staff members. Mariinsky original is smaller but late 18th century ornate and palatial, it is hard not to feel like royalty in any seat. It is someplace where you feel uncomfortable dressing too casually knowing the royalty and nobles who sat in your seat in the past. But little is mentioned about the lesser known Mariinsky Concert Hall.
The 3rd venue in the Mariinsky ensemble the Concert Hall started out as a warehouse where sets were stored and constructed but had a fire that partially destroyed it.