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Russian Rhapsody, the annual charity gala in London, lit up the Russia Investment Roadshow in a blaze of Russian art on Monday 21 April – and once again became the cultural high point of the Roadshow week.

This time round in the seven year history of this magnificent social occasion, the event turned one of London’s largest ballrooms in a huge showcase for Russian art: visual, musical – and edible. Following a pre-dinner reception of Veuve Clicquot Champagne and Hennessy (which was literally injected into one’s glass with an outsized pipette from a huge Mathusalem of Hennessy X.O cognac), guests were treated to a lavish four-course dinner devised and created by Julia Vysotskaya, actress, TV cook and wife of award-winning film director Andrei Konchalovsky. Dinner was accompanied by the exquisite sound of the world famous London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by the celebrated Russian maestro, Vladimir Jurowski, who performed Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings in the presence of their Patron, HRH The Duke of Kent, who was Guest of Honour at this year’s event.

Later in the evening, the baritone Sergei Leiferkus and soprano Marina Poplavskaya – both veterans of the Bolshoi Theatre and other great international opera houses, took to the stage, against a rolling backdrop of great Russian masterpieces from film and visual art, projected onto giant screens.

Russian Rhapsody gala dinner was first launched in 2002 as a dramatic curtain raiser to the Russian Economic Forum, which has brought thousands of delegates to London to explore the growing impact of Russian business on the world economy. While providing an essential social networking platform for Forum speakers and high-profile participants, Russian Rhapsody has evolved and has become a well-known and respected cultural event in its own right. Russian Rhapsody is now firmly established as an extraordinary evening of culture, charity, music and fine dining. Presenting outstanding musical talent in London’s most prestigious venues, Russian Rhapsody has become a key date in London’s social calendar – and at the same time has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity. This year, our nominated charity was the Russian Orthodox Church in London, and the auction and raffle held during the evening raised a significant amount to benefit this very worthy cause.

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