Barbara Hamilton, Artistic Director, Colorado Chamber Players, June 2016
In the 2016-17 season, the Colorado Chamber Players will continue to celebrate not only the music of the fascinating and enigmatic Dmitri Shostakovich, but also the music of his contemporaries in Russia–Mikhail Gnessin, Sergei Prokofiev, Mieczysław Weinberg, and Aram Khachaturian.
Every program in our upcoming 23rd season will feature either a work by Shostakovich; or by his fellow composers in Russia. We’ll also return to some of our other favorite composers: Johannes Brahms, Max Bruch, Darius Milhaud, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, J.S. Bach, Weber, Ravel, Debussy, and more.
The reaction over the CCP’s past season to the chamber music of Shostakovich has been extraordinary. Audiences from adult patrons to elementary school students, have felt the power, heartfelt expression, and excitement of his music. Performers and audiences alike have been fascinated by his life and circumstances, and have been deeply affected by his music.
Born under the last Russian Tsar, Shostakovich witnessed the Russian Revolution as a child and grew up in the shadow of the new Soviet Union. He learned to survive under Josef Stalin’s regime, falling in and out of favor with the dictator. Throughout his career, he knew the fear of punishment, imprisonment, poverty, and death. He and his family were constantly threatened; Shostakovich kept a small suitcase by his door all of his adult life, in case of sudden imprisonment. He and his contemporaries walked a tightrope, balancing between self-expression and complying with composing the type of proscribed music demanded by the Soviet authorities.
Shostakovich’s friends and peers in Russia were also under intense scrutiny. Prokofiev discovered that 20 years living abroad did not ensure his success – or his safety- when he returned to Russia in 1936. Prokofiev, Khachaturian and Shostakovich were all denounced for writing “inappropriate and formalist” music, and were coerced into joining the Communist Party. And yet- that very same music is what captures our attention in 2016.
Weinberg, a Polish Jew, emigrated to Russia during World War II. He was alternately harassed and finally imprisoned by the KGB, while Shostakovich and his wife Nina cared for Weinberg’s daughter, and helped to secure Weinberg’s release. Weinberg was Shostakovich’s closest friend, and the two men often consulted each other on musical matters. Weinberg’s music was suppressed in Russia during his lifetime, and is only now reaching a worldwide audience, with long overdue performances and recordings.
We are delighted to welcome back the brilliant young harpist Emily Levin to Colorado in April 2017. Levin is a Centennial native, and after tremendous success at the Juilliard School, Tanglewood and Aspen Festivals, she won the Dallas Symphony Principal Harp audition at age 25. Emily will be in residence with the CCP for a week, and will perform trios for flute, viola and harp by Ravel, Debussy and Weinberg, along with solo harp works by Salzedo and Granados.
Shostakovich knew the power of music as both a form of political resistance and an expression of hope. As American musicians, we treasure our freedom to perform just about any type of music. We appreciate our freedom even more, when we learn about the circumstances and lives of composers and musicians from previous decades, especially those who lived in cold war-era Russia.
We’re excited to share the chamber music of Shostakovich -and Beyond- with you this upcoming season! Click below to see our full calendar of performances.