“I suffer for all who were tortured, starved or shot to death, whether by Hitler or Stalin. I feel eternal pain for each of the victims. My symphonies are tombstones.”

Steven Neff
Conductor and musical director of the Kirov Orchestra Valery Gergiev. (COURTESY OF UMS)

For years, the words of Dmitri Shostakovich have been recognized as a reflection of the composer himself, a man who struggled internally as an entertainer and as a human being. As part of the Shostakovich Centennial Celebration, the Kirov Orchestra will honor the composer’s genius starting Friday and continuing through Sunday at Hill Auditorium.

Erika Nelson, marketing assistant for UMS, the concerts will be “a wonderful opportunity for students to experience a world-renowned orchestra in U of M’s ‘Other Big House,’ Hill Auditorium, and to discover one of the finest Soviet composers of the 20th century.”

In this weekend’s celebration of Shostakovich, the audience should expect to hear six of the composer’s 15 symphonies composed anywhere between 1905 and 1969. Much of Shostakovich’s repertoire has been influenced by Russian politics in the days of the Soviet regime. For instance, “Symphony No. 12” is a tribute to the Bolshevik revolution of 1917. “Symphony No. 11,” is recognized as a memorial to the revolution against the autocratic rule of Tsar Nicholas II in 1905. The chaos and hostility is communicated in the dramatic and haunting language of each composition. The cello, viola, violin, French horn and flute, to name a few, all contribute to the soft melody that transforms into a lively climax, a trademark in Shostakovich’s symphonies.

Founded in the 1700s, The Kirov Orchestra of the historic Mariinsky Theater is St. Petersburg’s leading symphony orchestra. Over the years, the theater has been a home to some of Europe’s most renowned composers, including Hans von Bulow, Otto Klemperer and Bruno Walter. “The Sleeping Beauty,” “The Nutcracker,” “Tristan und Isolde” and “Prince Igor” are only a few of the great masterpieces from ballet and opera history that were born on the stage of The Mariinsky Theater.

This weekend’s performance will mark yet another appearance by Valery Gergiev, music director and conductor of the Mariinsky Theater since 1988. Among Gergiev’s many awards, the director has won the Golden Mask Award and the People’s Artist of Russia Award.

Gergiev has crossed the Russia’s borders into forty-five other countries where he has toured with the group in Europe, South America, North America, Australia, China, Japan and Israel. In January 2007, Gergiev will become the Principal Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra.

When listening to Shostakovich’s work the listener may hear the tragedy of war and inevitable revolutions, or he may hear the cry of a man who wanted nothing more than to experience a better world. Whether his musical expression is a record of political history or simply a memoir of the soul within the composer, The Kirov Orchestra’s interpretation will be a reflection of some of Shostakovich’s most profound and timely works.

$10 student rush tickets are available the day of the performance at the Michigan League Ticket Office. Half-off tickets will be available at the door the night of the performance beginning 90 minutes before the event.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *