A series of events featuring silenced Russian artists of the Stalinist era
with Special Guest M. T. Anderson
Last summer, using our usual approach of performing music our players are excited to bring to our CCP audience, I put requested works of Tchaikovsky, Stravinski, and Shostakovich together on one program. This repertoire spanned 63 years of non-stop seismic political chaos in Russia. Hearing these 3 artists’ voices in this context offered a visceral comprehension of the enormity of the shift in the realities of life experienced by the Russian people during these years.
Last summer I also had the pleasure of meeting author M.T. Anderson after one of our concerts. In addition to being an awarding winning novelist, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of classical music and writes on the subject. In 2015 he released his book Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad. It is a detailed and deeply human telling of the horrors endured by Russian citizens as the great city of St. Petersburg was decimated first by national politics then foreign aggression. A generation of Russian experimental art disappeared. Through it all a very passionate Dmitri Shostakovich somehow found the strength to keep creating, eventually composing his great 7th Symphony of 1941. This piece was a beacon of hope to his countrymen and eventually helped marshal aid from the West. You need to read the book!
I was aware of this history but had no real understanding of the scope of the atrocities endured and the generation of artists silenced. When I finished reading Tobin’s book, the first thing I wanted to do was locate scores and play music by these “lost” Russian composers, diving deeper into the musical timeline we had performed in August. These were musicians whose work, in the rewriting of history that was the practice of the Stalinists, apparently had never existed. With the fall of the USSR some of these forgotten works are emerging and we now have the opportunity to rediscover voices previously silenced.
For our spring pre-season concert this year Tobin Anderson is partnering with us to curate a concert of this forgotten music. In addition many area libraries will be individually hosting book clubs in the months leading up to our concert. And Tobin Anderson will appear reading from his book in separate gatherings in both the Northeast Kingdom and the Greater Burlington area.
We invite you to join us for any or all of the events delving more deeply into this history.
There is no admission charge for these concerts but donations to support our concert series will be gratefully received.
Highland Center for the Arts
2875 Hardwick Street
Greensboro, Vermont 05841
First Baptist Church
81 St. Paul Street
Burlington, Vermont 05401