This season at New England Conservatory, 30+ concerts demonstrate just how vital music is to human struggle, and what revolution in artistic expression sounds like. Programs range from roots music to Beethoven, fight songs to anti-war anthems. Join our year-long exploration of how music speaks truth to power!
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To the Victims of
Fascism and War
As part of NEC's Music: Truth to Power festival, the conductorless NEC Chamber Orchestra, coached by Donald Palma, performs Shostakovich's Chamber Symphony, Op. 118a, based on the String Quartet No. 10 as transcribed by conductor Rudolf Barshai.
Having already dedicated his String Quartet No. 8 to the "victims of fascism and war," Shostakovich extended that theme in his dedication of the String Quartet No. 10 (1964) to his friend, Mieczyslaw Vainberg. A Polish-born Jew of great compositional gifts and prolific output, Vainberg remains almost completely unknown even today. He lost most of his family in the Holocaust and escaped himself by taking refuge in the Soviet Union in 1939. However, once established in Russia, his music was entirely ignored by the Soviet musical establishment and for many years he could only support himself by composing for the theatre and the circus. Worse, he too was arrested in the early 1950s on charges of "Jewish bourgeois nationalism" in connection with the arrest of his father-in-law as part of the infamous "Doctors' Plot." This episode is widely considered one of the worst examples of antisemitism by the Soviet regime and had to do with the suspicion that a group of Moscow doctors, mostly Jews, were conspiring to assassinate Soviet leaders. Only the death of Stalin in 1953 saved the accused—the case against them falling apart after a new regime took over. Shostakovich's dedication certainly "spoke turth to power" in his public support of his friend.
Composed in 2005, Emmanuel Séjourné's Concerto for Marimba and String Orchestra has been described by Canadian percussionist Anne-Julie Caron as "unique because it is one of the rare pieces to put the marimba in a romantic context. One of this concerto’s strengths is to demonstrate the marimba’s expressive potential and ability to phrase like a piano.” Written for the Austrian marimbist Bogdan Bacanu, it reflects "his love of the romanticism and lyricism in Rachmaninoff. As a result, the first movement of the concerto is slow, solemn, with long lyrical solo passages, sometimes flighty, sometimes laconic, at a point exuberant, then again melancholic. The fast, aggressive and rhythmical second movement is influenced by two styles that we find often in Séjourné’s music: the jazz rock and flamenco."
Tsz-Ho Samuel Chan, the soloist in tonight's performance, was chosen by competition and is a third-year undergraduate studying with former BSO percussionist Frank Epstein.
Haydn Symphony No. 52 in C Minor
Séjourné Concerto for Marimba and String Orchestra with Tsz-Ho Samuel Chan
Shostakovich Chamber Symphony, Op. 118a