Contemporary music news
English version ed. by Alisa Nasibulina
Vustin and Smirnov tribute concert
Alexander Vustin and Dmitry Smirnov passed away from COVID-19 this april. Studio for New Music ensemble under the baton of Sergei Akimov has given a tribute concert to pay homage to the two famous Russian composers. The concert has been held on 10 September at the Rachmaninoff Hall of Moscow conservatory.
The program has included three premieres. Two pieces were commissioned by Studio for New Music: Vustin’s “Post Scriptum” (2019) and Smirnov’s “Solstice” (2020). The first piece was to be performed in June at the Pierre Boulez Saal in Berlin but the premiere was postponed due to coronavirus. “Solstice” was to be premiered in June at the Small Hall of Moscow conservatory. It remains Smirnov's last major work. The ensemble has also premiered Elena Firsova’s new song cycle “Farewell songs” for voice, viola and harp. The lyrics were written by her spouse Dmitry Smirnov.
Alexander Vustin and Dmitry Smirnov were composers of the same generation. Together with Edison Denisov, Elena Firsova, Nikolai Korndorf, Viktor Yekimovsky, Faraj Karayev, Vladimir Tarnopolsky, Alexander Raskatov, Yuri Kasparov and others they form Russia’s New ACM (or ACM-2), the revival of soviet Association for Contemporary Music.
Shortlist announced for the “Russkaya Muzyka 2.0”
On 30 June Aksenov Family Foundation has launched an annual program “Russkaya muzyka 2.0” (“Russian music 2.0”) to support contemporary Russian composers. The winners have been chosen by an international expert group including composers Yannis Kyriakides, Sergei Nevsky and Chaya Czernowin. The composers on this year’s shortlist are Mark Buloshnikov, Dmitry Burtsev, Oleg Gudachev, Darya Zvezdina, Daniil Pilchen, Marina Poleukhina, Alexey Sysoev, Boris Filanovsky and Alexander Khubeev. Elena Rykova has also won the prize but she will fulfill the obligations next year due to busy schedule.
Composers have been commissioned new pieces that will be performed at the “Territory” festival on 16 October. The concerts will be given by Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble and Filipp Chizhevsky’s Questa Musica ensemble.
CDs featuring Russian music to be released by “Melodiya” Record Label
Union of Russian composers and “Melodiya” record label are launching a large project. “Melodiya” is to release a new set of CDs featuring Russian music from 1910s avant-garde to contemporary music.
The anthology will contain the most prominent Russian chamber pieces over the past 100 years. The tracklist will also include younger composers such as Dmitri Kourliandski, Vladimir Rannev, Kuzma Bodrov, Pavel Karmanov, Elmir Nizamov, Alexey Sioumak, Anton Safronov, Nikolay Khrust, Anton Svetlichny, Olga Bochikhina, Nastasya Khrushcheva, Arman Gushchyan, Oleg Gudachev, Aleksey Nadzharov, Alexander Khubeev, Alina Podzorova, Anna Pospelova, Natalia Prokopenko, Denis Khorov, Vladimir Gorlinsky, Nikolay Popov, Olga Rayeva, Alexey Sysoev, Mark Buloshnikov, Georgy Dorokhov.
The pieces will be recorded by Moscow contemporary music ensemble. MCME was founded in 1990 by Yuri Kasparov with assistance by Edison Denisov. MCME was the first ensemble to perform avant-garde music in Russia and to promote new Russian music abroad.
REMUSIK.ORG festival streamed online
The 7th St. Petersburg international new music festival reMusik.org has launched a digital live concert series. The events have been streamed from 3 to 9 July on the reMusik.org website. The artistic director of the festival is composer Mehdi Hosseini.
The 7-day online festival has presented a large program of world and Russian premieres. The concerts have been given by numerous ensembles and musicians such as Les Percussions de Strasbourg (France), Lemniscate (Switzerland), SÆITENWIND trio (Switzerland), Adapter (Germany), Moscow contemporary music ensemble (Russia) and cellist Yulia Migunova (Russia).
Festival events have been followed by online discussions, workshops and composer meet-and-greet. Special guests of the festival are masters of the reMusik.org Online Composition Course that took place earlier in June: Oscar Bianchi (Switzerland), Joanna Bailie (UK), Raphaël Cendo (France), Yuri Kasparov (Russia) and Dmitri Kourliandski (Russia).
Among the pieces premiered at the festival are those by reMusik.org Composition Course masters and participants, composers Vladimir Rannev, Alexandra Filonenko, Arman Gushchyan and others. The festival has ended with the IV International Sergei Slonimsky Composition Competition finale.
“Eurydice” by Dmitri Kourliandski to be premiered in Europe
Dmitri Kourliandski’s new opera “Eurydice” has been premiered in Italy at the “Aperto” festival on 18 October staged by Antoine Gindt. “Eurydice” is a chamber monodrama for soprano, piano and electronics with lyrics by Nastya Rodionova. The opera was commissioned by Théâtre et Musique company.
Dmitri Kourliandski: “The opera consists of seven monologues by modern Eurydice who is searching for lost connections between present and past, reality and imagination, inner life and city streets.
Stage director Antoine Gindt who specializes on contemporary music has added a new character to the opera, Orpheus, who will be performed by a famous dancer Dominique Mercy, Pina Bausch’s partner. Orpheus and Eurydice exist in two time dimensions simultaneously. They become memories or mere guesses of each other.
Earlier I have partnered with sound artist Oleg Makarov for a different project. Together we have created a real-time computer program that works with prerecorded files, divides them into fragments and scatters them in time and space. As a result Eurydice finds herself inside her own voice and text shattered into pieces and mixed in time. In this environment she tries to form scattered fragments into coherent narrative. Thus she dwells in two time dimensions: one is nonlinear where everything exists at once, another is linear where the story is being told.
I’d like the opera to be staged in Russia. I hope it will be possible someday”.
Eurydice, opera by Dmitri Kourliandski, staging Antoine Gindt
Conversations with Stravinsky.online: first online festival by Stravinsky.online
First online festival entitled “Conversations with Stravinsky.online” has been streamed on our website from 30 May to 26 June.
Stravinsky.online turned 1001 days in June. Igor Fyodorovich was called 1001 style composer. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental (crossed out). Any rules are out of the question. Any of the festival events couldn’t coexist at another festival. We miss conversations more than we miss Stravinsky. Enough with the genre self-isolation. Classical music is the most non-classical music in the world.
Evening talk show: First year results of the Sound Art and Sound Design profile at the HSE Art and Design School
The profile is the first sound art academic program in Russia. It was opened by Higher School of Economics Art and Design School. HSE is one of Russia’s top universities.
Media-opera: Dmitri Kourliandski’s “Letters of Happiness”. VI and VII acts premiere
The opera was composed by Dmitri Kourliandski during the lockdown. The music, the lyrics and the video were mostly automatically generated by computer. Stravinsky.online has broadcasted the two final acts of the opera.
Youtube book presentation: Levon Hakobian “The great outsiders of the 20th century music: Edgard Varèse, Roberto Gerhard, Giacinto Scelsi and Jean Barraqué” (The State Institute for Art Studies, 2019)
Levon Hakobian is a Russian musicologist. His works include “Music of the Soviet Era, 1917–1991” (London and New York, 2017), “The Phenomenon of Dmitry Shostakovich” (St. Petersburg, 2018) and the 20th century music encyclopedia (Moscow, 2010).
The staff’s flashback: discussing Stockhausen’s “Licht” and its staging by Pierre Audi at the Holland Festival in 2019
A comic about Igor Stravinsky made by composer and illustrator Daniil Eremin. Posted on Stravinsky’s birthday.
“Let’s make a soviet opera: Stanislavsky’s opera studio and Nemirovich-Danchenko’s studio” — a lecture by Nataliya Surnina
Nataliya Surnina is a Russian musicologist and music critic. The lecture is a part of Stravinsky.online and Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Academic Music Theatre collaboration.
Zoom party featuring staff and guests: Stravinsky 1001 days online
A reissue of Nikolai Karetnikov’s “Themes and Variations”
A reissue of Nikolai Karetnikov’s book entitled “Themes and variations” has been released by Ivan Limbakh Publishing House. The book comprises two memoirs by Karetnikov: “Themes and variations” (“Temy s variatsiyami”, 1990) and “Readiness to exist” (“Gotovnost' k bytiyu”, 1992). The work is framed as a series of short stories related to Maria Yudina, Vissarion Shebalin, Heinrich Neuhaus, Yakov Zeldovich, Alexander Galich, Dmitri Shostakovich, Andrei Sakharov, Alexander Men and others.
Nikolai Karetnikov (1930-1994) was a notable Russian composer. Most of his pieces were composed in the twelve-tone technique. His unconventional music was rarely performed in the Soviet Union. During his lifetime he was mostly famous for his film scores such as “The Ugly Story” (“Skvernyy anekdot”), “The Flight” (“Beg”), etc.
In 2020 Karetnikov would have turned 90. To celebrate the anniversary, “Melodiya” record label has released a recording of Karetnikov's Fourth Symphony. It's the first release of Karetnikov's music in Russia since his death in 1994.
Support fund launched to help Russian musicians during the pandemic
Yuri Bashmet and Russian concert agency have launched a fund to help Russian musicians affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund is designed to support the musicians whose concerts were cancelled due to the lockdown.
The expert jury is to choose 10 musicians who will be invited to perform at concerts and festivals organized by Yuri Bashmet and Russian concert agency in 2020/2021. The fund provides transportation, accommodation and fee. 50 musicians selected by the jury will receive a grant.
The jury has also chosen 5 composers who will be commissioned new pieces. The winners are Kirill Arkhipov, Oleg Krokhalev, Aleksey Chernakov, Daniil Posazhennikov and Elsana Gabaraeva. The new pieces will be performed at concerts organized by Yuri Bashmet and Russian concert agency in 2020/2021.
Room Music Project organized by Gnesin Contemporary Music Week
In april 2020 Gnesin Contemporary Music Week festival launched a composer flashmob entitled “Room music”. An open call was announced for composers to write lockdown-related chamber pieces with the use of household items. The staff selected five pieces by young composers Dmitriy Efremov, Antonina Shashkina, Alexander Perov, Sergey Shestakov and Dmitry Remezov. The new pieces were performed online in real time by Reheard ensemble. The performances were followed by discussions involving composers and musicians.
Gnesin Contemporary Music Week is a contemporary music festival taking place at the Gnesins Russian Academy of Music. The festival was organized by academy students and graduates. It is centered on contemporary music and young composers.
Studio for New Music master-classes streaming now
Fourteen online master-classes by Studio for New Music ensemble soloists are available on the ensemble website. The master-classes are devoted to extended techniques in contemporary music. The lessons are a part of “STUDIO | education” project launched during the lockdown. The ensemble has published a series of lectures, master-classes and online presentations followed by a live-stream concert to an empty concert hall.
Studio for New Music is a prominent Russian contemporary music ensemble founded by composer Vladimir Tarnopolski and conductor Igor Dronov in 1993. It is the ensemble-in-residence at the Moscow conservatory and the main ensemble of the Moscow Forum festival.