The novel structure of this year’s event has two parts: the 2019 Aurora Prize Ceremony itself and the charity concert of Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra’s conducted by Valery Gergiev. Valery Gergiev is a prominent Russian conductor and a respected representative of the St Petersburg conducting school, as well as the founder and director of several prestigious international festivals. In the early 1980s, Valery Gergiev worked in Armenia where he was the chief conductor of the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1988, Valery Gergiev was appointed Music Director of the Mariinsky Theatre, and in 1996 he became its Artistic and General Director. Since 2015, the maestro has also headed the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra.

“I am deeply grateful to Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra for their participation in this year’s Aurora Prize Ceremony, and delighted that on October 20, in Yerevan, we will honor not only the best of human courage and commitment, but also the splendor of musical genius,” said Aurora Forum Co-Founder Ruben Vardanyan.

The Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra is one of the oldest orchestras in Russia. It dates back to the St Petersburg Imperial Opera Orchestra that was created at the turn of the 19th century. Under Gergiev’s direction, the Orchestra has reached new heights, and its repertoire expanded significantly to include symphonic works, in addition to operas and ballet. In 2008, the Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra was ranked 14th out of 20 best symphony orchestras in the world, according to Gramophone magazine (UK). On May 6, 2016, the Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra conducted by Valery Gergiev, held a unique concert in Syria, entitled “Pray for Palmyra. Music Revives Ancient Ruins.” The event took place on the stage of historic amphitheater in Palmyra, one of the world’s most ancient centers of civilization, liberated from ISIS only a few days before the concert.

“To me, Armenia is a special country, and I whole-heartedly salute the diverse, interesting and valuable activity of the Aurora humanitarian award that takes place worldwide. I would like to encourage those who want their children and grandchildren to have a better life to take a more proactive approach to their ideas. What we need right now are people who tell the truth – they are the real heroes who can really make a difference. I urge you to help the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative become a success in any way you can,” said Valery Gergiev, Artistic and General Director of the Mariinsky Theatre.

Valery Gergiev is also a member of the Aurora Prize Selection Committee, which includes Nobel Laureates Oscar Arias, Shirin Ebadi and Leymah Gbowee; former president of Ireland Mary Robinson; human rights activist Hina Jilani; former foreign minister of Australia and President Emeritus of the International Crisis Group Gareth Evans; former president of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo; Médecins Sans Frontières co-founder and former foreign minister of France Bernard Kouchner; human rights activist and Founding Director of Enough Project John Prendergast; Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London Professor the Lord Ara Darzi; former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power; President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York Vartan Gregorian and Academy Award-winning actor and humanitarian George Clooney.

This year’s ceremony will take place during the inaugural Aurora Forum to be held in Armenia on October 14–21, 2019. The Forum will bring together the world’s leading authorities on social, scientific-technological, educational, and humanitarian innovation, marking the first program of its kind in the region. The weeklong series of activities will provide an opportunity for thought leaders to compare best practices, lessons learned and, in some cases, disruptive thinking around issues ranging from infrastructure challenges to healthcare breakthroughs to women’s empowerment. The Aurora Forum is powered by partner Armenian and international institutions with a shared vision to tackle some of the most pressing challenges facing humanity today.