UNESCO Highest Award - Mozart Medal - Conferred on Russian Composer Tikhon Khrennikov

The UNESCO highest award - the Mozart Medal - was conferred Monday on People's Artist of the USSR and Russia, composer Tikhon Khrennikov for his outstanding contribution to the development of world culture.

We have enthusiastically joined the celebration of the maitre of Russian music who has made an invaluable contribution to the development of musical art and education, said spokesman for the UNESCO Director General Teresa Brown, handing over the medal to the musician on behalf of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

"Any relation to the great name of Mozart is happiness for any creator," said Tikhon Khrennikov in his speech in reply. "This medal is awarded very rarely, and for me it is a priceless gift." The awarding of the live legend of Russian music was held at a special ceremony yesterday in Moscow devoted to the presentation of the joint programmes of the UNESCO and the Vivat Public Charity Foundation. The congratulatory message from Russian representative in the UNESCO Vladimir Kalamanov was read out on the occasion of the Foundation's entering the international level.

The celebration of the oldest composer of Russia, who heads his own charity fund, a co-founder of the Vivat Foundation, was joined by Khrennikov's fellow-townsmen, the inhabitants of Yelets. The head of the administration of the Lipetsk region (Central Russia), Oleg Korolyov, presented him an icon of Our Lady of Yelets, made of Yelets lace. Yelets is the birthplace of the composer. At the present time, there is a house-museum of Tikhon Khrennikov and an arts school named after him.

The Russian Vivat Public Charity Foundation for supporting musical and theatre art was founded in 1999 on the initiative of the Union of Theatre Workers of Russia, the Union of Film-Makers of Russia and a number of outstanding cultural and artistic figures. The chairman of the trusteeship council of the Foundation is the president of the Mosfilm concern, Karen Shakhnazarov. From 2002, the Foundation has been actively co-operating with UNESCO.

"As a matter of fact, culture does not need much," said Karen Shakhnazarov in a RIA Novosti interview. "The money spent on one high-precision bomb, which may soon be dropped on Baghdad, could provide access of thousands of people to art." The present decade - from 2001 to 2010 - has been proclaimed by the United Nations the International Decade for the Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children. Two children's creative groups - the Children's Musical Theatre of Young Actors and the Tikhon Khrennikov Art School (Yelets) have received the certificates of the Vivat Foundation.