new music formed in the city
Published: February 6, 2004 (Issue # 941)
Sergey Grachev / The St. Petersburg Times
British composer Peter Dyson, cofounder of the New Music Initiative.
This Sunday's concert in the Herzen State University provides a sampling of contemporary compositions by foreign and Russian composers, the majority of whom live in the city. Its organizers promise that it is "audience friendly" and very diverse. There is in the program impressionism in the tradition of Debussy, pieces which draw on medieval music, and works which have as their frame of reference Ligeti, Shostakovich and Messiaen.
The highly respected Klassika orchestra under the baton of Roman Leontiev will be performing several pieces that either are being performed for the first time in St. Petersburg or are world premieres.
The concert opens with "Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten" by Estonian composer Arvo Part, dating from 1977. With a nod to minimalism there are 12-minute symphonic pieces such as "Fire" by Marcus Heachcock which dates originally from 1990, when it was commissioned by Greenpeace, and has been performed several times around the U.K. Sunday's performance is a revised version from 2003. The composer said it draws musical inspiration from Prokofiev's "Scythian Suite."
Given the time of year, it should be especially interesting to hear St. Petersburg-based British composer Peter Dyson's "After Winter there always comes Spring", which has its St. Petersburg premiere but was first performed, appropriately, in the northern Russian city of Murmansk. The composer describes the work as is his "Concerto Grosso" because there are solo parts for violin, viola, cello and a string orchestra. The composer's reflections on the first winter he spent in the city comprise the piece. It portrays "wintry violence" with abrasive contemporary harmonies.
The oldest composition in Sunday's performance is Boris Tchaikovsky's clarinet concerto, composed in 1957. The clarinet solo will be performed by Sergei Doroshev from the orchestra of the Mariinsky Theater.
One world premiere is NAS:TROE:SUR:NIE by young St. Petersburg composers Konstantin and Natalia Logvinov. As the name suggests the piece is about contrasting moods and emotions. The other world premiere is by Kirill Mikhalyov. His "Seasons Autumn and Winter-2002" is a symphonic piece for 13 instruments.
The concert has been organized by the New Music Initiative under the joint directorship of composers Marcus Heathcock and Peter Dyson and conductor Roman Leontiev. Heathcock and Dyson both came to St. Petersburg seven years ago. Since 2000 their mission has been to restore an more important tradition from St Petersburg's past.
"A hundred years ago St. Petersburg concert programs were full of first performances. Where have they gone? It is not as though the city is short of good composers and excellent musicians," Dyson said.
New Music Initiative Concert, Feb. 8, at the Kolonny Hall of the Herzen State University, 48 Naberezhnaya Reki Moika at 4.00 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the start of the concert priced 40 rubles ($1.30) each.